By: John Alderman, L.Ac.

Are you one of the millions of Americans suffering daily pain when you perform simple mundane tasks such as turning a key, getting up from a chair, reaching to grasp something, holding an object, throwing a ball to your grandchildren, writing a note or letter to a dear friend or loved one, or just trying to move without constant sharp, throbbing, gnawing aches? More than 20% of all Americans report excruciating inflamed joint pain that hinders their recreational activities and productivity at work, and many lose their jobs because their pain affects decision making and causes absenteeism. Fatigue, sleep disruption, and depression are side effects that affect relationships with friends and family. Sometimes even the best of marriages cannot withstand the crippling affects of physical and emotional decline caused by this devastating progressive disease.

Arthritis is not just an older person’s disease, either. Nearly two thirds of people with arthritis are younger than age 65, and are affected by over 100 types of arthritis, rheumatic diseases, and related conditions. Two of the most common forms are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. These two forms have very different causes, risk factors, and effects on the body, yet they often share a common symptom–persistent joint pain.

Although osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis affect the majority of Americans, infectious arthritis, chemically-induced arthritis, temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ), juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and gout have a major impact on our health as well and tend to be statistically increasing.

Why suffer? Eliminate your pain and inflammation and increase your mobility. Acupuncture and TCM have treated thousands of patients with arthritic conditions having dramatic positive and life changing results.

Acupuncture Gains Recognition for Success with Arthritis

Traditional Oriental Medicine and Acupunctures effective and time tested medical care concepts and theories currently find great scientific support. More and more scientifically-designed clinical studies support the use of acupuncture for arthritis. One study examined the effects of acupuncture on 32 osteoarthritis patients waiting for knee replacement surgery. After nine weeks, patients receiving acupuncture treatments reported a decrease in pain, while pain increased in untreated patients. The patients with acupuncture treatments were able to walk farther and faster, compared with the untreated group.

Another study at the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine found that 12 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee improved significantly after acupuncture treatments. These results encouraged the researchers to do a larger study which is currently under way.

Western medical science is embracing Acupuncture administered by highly qualified Doctors of Oriental Medicine and licensed practitioners. The National Arthritis Foundation medical director, Dr. John Klippel, vigorously supports acupuncture therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee. This endorsement followed another dramatic research study of patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee. This study involved 570 patients in Maryland and New York who had moderate to severe pain despite treatment with pain medicine. Researchers randomly assigned patients to get acupuncture, sham acupuncture, or education in addition to their pain pills. Those who got the acupuncture indicated a 40 percent reduction in pain and a nearly 40 percent improvement in function by the 14th week, which lasted through week 26.

A recent Scandinavian study showed it relieves osteoarthritis symptoms – so well, that 25 percent of patients previously scheduled for knee surgery canceled their plans. That same study showed booster treatments once a month sustained the pain relief.

Studies show that acupuncture can stimulate the production of endorphins (natural pain-killing hormones in the brain), and the anti-inflammatory hormone adrenalcorticotropin. Acupuncture triggers the body to heal itself by producing hormones that reduce pain and inflammation. Acupuncture can then be used on an ongoing basis to prevent re-occurrence of arthritis once it has been successfully cured.

Arthritis Treatments: What Works and What’s Dangerous

“Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) account for more deaths in the United States than AIDS or Cervical Cancer.”  The pain and inflammation of arthritis is crippling America, but our pharmaceutical companies are killing the uninformed consumer. This double-edged sword of pain and death is unchecked in our modern Western medical model. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) account for 20% of NSAID patients experiencing dyspepsia and NSAID-associated upper gastrointestinal adverse events are estimated to result in 103,000 hospitalizations and 16,500 deaths per year in the United States, and represent 43% of drug-related emergency visits. These drugs cause more deaths in the US than AIDS or cervical cancer. Small intestine problems can be easily undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, thus it is important to be aware of the risks associated with long term NSAID use.

In Traditional Oriental Medicine, the condition that is congruent with arthritis is called “Bi syndrome.” Bi syndrome manifests as pain, soreness, or numbness of muscles, tendons and joints, and is the result of the body being “invaded” by the external climatological factors of Wind, Cold, Heat, and/or Dampness. The symptoms manifested by the individual depend on which external pathogenic factor is strongest. These pathogenic factors lodge in the body’s meridians (energy pathways) and obstruct the free flow of Qi (energy) and blood in those meridians. When blood and energy are not able to flow naturally, they stagnate, causing pain, heat, and other symptoms. Acupuncture and herbal therapy help to open the blockage, balance the energy, and harmonize Qi and blood, eliminating pain, inflammation and greatly increasing mobility and range of motion in the joints.