Arthritis is one of the most common joint ailments, affecting over 54 million adults in the United States. Caused by a swelling of the joints, it can range from bothersome to extremely painful and can be a hindrance to everyday activities. Arthritis, along with other types of joint health issues, can be one of the most life-altering conditions to live with—because it can hinder everything from one’s ability to get regular exercise to how much someone can go to work.
Thankfully, applications of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture can be amazingly helpful as arthritis treatments and general joint health maintenance protocol.
Within the theory of TCM and acupuncture, our essential life energy or qi (pronounced “chee”) flows along the meridians of the body. When the flow is constricted or imbalanced, we may experience illness or pain. The needles used in acupuncture are carefully placed along points connected to the meridians, stimulating those places to correct and encourage the flow of energy.
In TCM, the entire body is understood as a multifaceted mechanism whose parts function in concert—not silo-ed sections to be treated in isolation.
Various studies, including one by the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, found that patients felt significantly less pain and had an easier time walking after receiving legitimate acupuncture treatments.
Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis
There are many different types of arthritis, some with very few treatment options as dictated by Western Medicine.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one variety that can be hugely disruptive to sufferers’ lives. RA is a chronic systemic autoimmune disease that’s linked with progressive joint damage, resulting in severe chronic pain and long-term mobility issues.
Western medicine comes up short when trying to treat RA. Yet many clinical trials have shown that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has advantages in the treatment of RA.
Osteoarthritis & Preventing Knee Replacement
Another common and very detrimental type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, particular in the knee joints, and especially affecting older adults. When knee osteoarthritis gets severe enough, total knee replacement is the final treatment option.
A wide-ranging study of over 34,000 patients in Taiwan showed that TCM treatments reduced risk of total knee replacement in patients with knee osteoarthritis, and that enhanced benefits results from long-term treatment. The longer a patient used TCM, the less likely they were to need a knee replacement.
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.