Arthritis is persistent joint pain, which comes with movement restrictions and trouble sleeping due to the pain and inflammation. It isn’t one disease but is one of two very different disease processes called osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis being caused from wear and tear of a joint and rheumatoid being caused by autoimmune reactions occurring in the joint.
As we age degeneration of joints, inflammation and arthritis pain often occur, especially in those over 50. Osteoarthritis is typical inte the fingers, knees, hips and spine. Other joints can be affected especially if there is a history of injury, or repetitive use of that joint.
Great news is that osteoarthritis pain and movement restrictions can be managed very well with Acupuncture!
Acupuncture for Arthritis:
An acupuncture practitioner will take your unique medical history, examine you and come up with a diagnosis and treatment plan. This treatment plan will include a customized set of acupuncture points selected just for you.
Diagnosis for acupuncture is different than saying ‘you have arthritis’. In oriental medicine, using the meridians and different language your diagnosis could include Qi (energy) stagnation, damp-heat, excess or deficiency. Most often with arthritis there is Qi blockage leading to pain, soreness, numbness and stiffness. This diagnosis is based off of not just your arthritis symptoms but other indicators of your body function as well like sleep habits, eating habits, energy levels, mood and emotions.
There have been many studies done with supportive findings of acupunctures efficacy with arthritis and related autoimmune diseases:
- A major clinical trial found that acupuncture can reduce pain and improve mobility in arthritis patients by 40%.
- Less pain and stiffness, improved joint function and better quality of life was found in a German study of 3,500 people who had osteoarthritis of the hip and/or knee. This was after 15 sessions in combination with their usual care.
- In a Scandinavian study, 25% of arthritis patients cancelled their surgery appointments after receiving acupuncture.
- When acupuncture was added to elderly patients treatment plans the University of Maryland School of Medicine study found a decrease in pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis is different in that the inflammation of the joint lining leads to warmth and redness as well as pain and stiffness. Over time the joint can lose it’s shape leading to restrictions in normal movements. It may also affect other parts of the body like blood vessels, lungs and heart; as well as appearing in flares (worsening of symptoms) and remissions (less or no symptoms). This form of arthritis benefits from removing substances that trigger flares and taking substances that decrease the autoimmune inflammation.
Diet and Herbal therapies for Arthritis:
An anti-inflammatory whole foods diet that includes eliminating any foods that are specifically inflammatory for you is the approach taken with rheumatoid arthritis. Anti-inflammatory whole foods include green leafy veggies, berries, and fish along with many other delicious items. Common herbal therapies may include using castor oil or capsaicin topically or taking turmeric/curcumin and boswellia internally. The target of these two therapies is to decrease the amount of inflammation happening in the body and joint, thus a decrease pain and other symptoms will happen. Both of these therapies compliment acupuncture treatments very well.
For more information you can call us at 604-336-2844 and book a free 15 minute meet the practitioner appointment, mention this blog post and we will direct you to meet either our Acupuncturist or one of our Naturopathic doctors.