Arthritis is a condition characterized by painful inflammation and stiffness in the joints. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 52.5 million U.S. adults suffer from either arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, fibromyalgia, or lupus. (source). If you have arthritis, you should try the following tips to alleviate your symptoms. Click the AcuNews link above for a printable version of this article.
#1) Maintain a Healthy Weight
The first step in reducing the pain and inflammation of arthritis is to manage your weight. Individuals who are overweight will experience more arthritis flareups, and with worsening symptoms. The excess weight places pressure against the already inflamed joints, causing additional pain and stiffness.
#2) Take a Joint Supplement
Whether your arthritis is minor or severe, you should get into the habit of taking a daily joint supplement. Glucosamine and chondroitin are powerful compounds which have been proven to alleviate the symptoms of arthritis. These two compounds are building blocks of cartilage, and taking a supplement containing them will protect strengthen your own body's cartilage while subsequently protecting your joints.
As a Licensed Acupuncturist with a degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture treatment is a central focus of my practice. One of the most common questions a new patient asks beyond “does acupuncture hurt?” and “what can acupuncture treat?” is “how can acupuncture help me?”
This question is so common that today I’m going to do my best to answer it for some of the more common complaints I see in the treatment room.
Its important first to realize that 3,000+ years ago, acupuncture and Chinese medicine were the only medical options available in China, and therefore they were used (and still have protocols today) to treat everything from colds to acute infections, back pain, and more. With the advent of modern medicine, it is clear that some things - especially anything that would warrant a trip to the ER - are best suited to Western medical treatment while other things are treated very successfully and naturally by Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Here is a short list of some of the ailments best suited to acupuncture treatment:
There’s quite a bit more, but these are most common ailments I see in my clinic. The top two complaints I see are Pain - especially Neck, Back, Knee and Auto Accident Recovery - and Women’s Health Issues.
How Can Acupuncture Help My Pain?
The benefits of acupuncture for pain treatment have been widely researched and show that acupuncture can cause the body to release pain-relieving endorphins and cause the brain to change the way it perceives pain by changing opiate receptor sites. Neither of these completely explain all the benefits of acupuncture, but acupuncture has received endorsement from the National Institute of Health for pain treatment.
Acupuncture uses hair-thin needles strategically placed along meridians and around the site of pain or injury to balance the meridians. When we balance the energetic body, the physical body follows suit finding a physical state of balance to match the energetic one and in so doing returning the body to a pain free state.
Even when meridians, or energetic channels, are treated locally, the whole meridian from its branches connecting internal organs all the way to the skin layer are affected.
This means that the benefits of acupuncture are widespread - not only will acupuncture treat and resolve the pain, but it will also balance the body on a deeper level in order to maintain the pain free state. Many other things are improved as a by-product of acupuncture treatment such as enhanced immunity and stress reduction - two of the most common acupuncture side effects.
This is true for any type of pain, but is especially successful in treating auto accident recovery. After even a minor car accident, your body is in a state of distress - whiplash, rib subluxation, back spasm. You can also suffer from high stress associated with dealing with the aftermath of an auto accident such as managing multiple appointments and dealing with insurance claims.
Acupuncture will treat the physical pain - relaxing muscles, moving stagnation, decreasing inflammation - and also the stress and physical effects of the trauma such as insomnia and anxiety.
How Can Acupuncture Benefit Women's Health Issues?
The same is true in the treatment of Women’s Health Issues such as PMS, menopause and infertility. Not only can acupuncture balance hormones and reduce cramping, irritability, insomnia, hot flashes etc., but it can also help reduce the stress and anxiety associated with difficult or irregular menstrual cycles.
Indeed, I’ve seen patients with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome who haven’t had a regular cycle or unmedicated period in a decade return to normal cycles in as little as 3 months using acupuncture and herbal treatment alone.
How Can Acupuncture Help Me?
So the short answer to the original question, “How Can Acupuncture Help Me?” is that it can help you by balancing your meridians. This resolves both physical and energetic imbalances which can relieve pain and hormone irregularities. Common acupuncture byproducts include stress reduction and immune enhancement so acupuncture can benefit you on many levels, even ones you may not be actively seeking assistance with. Once balanced, acupuncture can help you maintain a healthy state for years to come.
If you have questions or want to know more please don’t hesitate to contact me or book a free consult anytime!
Its National Psoriasis Awareness Month, hooray! And I've definitely found that people don't often realize that acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can be an effective treatment for this condition. Did you know?
The video above doesn't get into the details of diagnosis and treatment, but it is a nice little into to what the beginnings of an acupuncture treatment for this condition might look like, and a good reminder about that hallmark of Chinese Medicine - syndrome differentiation. Namely, that everyone presents with their own unique set of signs and symptoms associated with any given condition and that each individual will therefore be treated individually and uniquely. There may be some general guidelines or points that are commonly recommended for any given illness, but since different people with the same illness will have different tongue and pulse pictures and other associated symptoms, their energetic diagnosis and treatment will therefore be unique.
But enough about that - Psoriasis is our topic of the day!
In Chinese Medicine all skin conditions have a connection to the Lung meridian, so they often go hand in hand with things like asthma, allergies and acne and thanks to the magic of energetic medicine, these things can therefore be treated concurrently. The Lungs also receive their energy from the Spleen (read "digestion") so digestive issues are also commonly seen in combination with psoriasis and other skin conditions. This means that diet and lifestyle are important factors to look at as part of an overall treatment plan.
Blood heat is also a common underlying energetic cause or factor, and when you add in the Spleen/digestive connection, hot and spicy foods are often found to be aggravating. Avoidance of these foods is recommended during a flare up in particular.
Also associated with psoriasis can be joint pain in the case of psoriatic arthritis and I have to say that this is a place where acupuncture really shines as a treatment. Electro acupuncture in particular has been well researched for the treatment of joint pain, especially knee pain, and when you combine the western scientifically verified endorphin and anti-inflammatory release associated with electro acupuncture, with the energetic benefits of meridian balancing associated with all acupuncture, the effect can be pretty amazing over time.
A course of treatment is recommended - as a natural method of health care acupuncture and Chinese Medicine work with the body's natural rhythms so it can take time to create change - but an average course of treatment in my clinic is 6 treatments over a 6 week period. Generally noticeable results begin to be seen after 2 treatments, if not immediately, but creating lasting change takes time. The longer you have suffered from a condition, the longer it can take to treat as well, so if you have suffered for many years you can expect several months of treatment before it is recommended to reassess success and re-evaluate your treatment plan. If your condition is chronic you may also want to plan regular acupuncture tune ups into your wellness plan every 4 to 6 weeks once your symptoms are under control to keep flare ups at bay.
I also always recommend topical castor oil to all of my patients with psoriasis and eczema. With the soothing emollients and the natural anti-inflammatory effect inherent to this compound, it is an excellent topical treatment for these kinds of skin conditions. Its a little sticky, so I generally recommend using it at night and letting it soak in while you sleep. After a couple weeks of daily use, the effect can be drastic from this alone.
If you're interested in learning more please don't hesitate to contact me or book an appointment or consultation online any time. Chinese Medicine has over 3,000 years of experience behind it in treating a variety of conditions, including many things you might not think of when you hear the word "acupuncture" so if you aren't sure what may or may not be helped by this natural, gentle and effective medicine, please don't hesitate to drop me a line and ask!
Until next time,
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.