Approximately 27 million Americans suffer from the pains of arthritis, making it one of the most common causes of physical disability among adults. Although it becomes more common as one ages, arthritis can affect adults of all ages.
Symptoms of arthritis include joint or muscle pain in any joint area including the spine, hips, and fingers. Other symptoms include morning muscle/joint stiffness, loss of appetite, low-grade fever and loss of energy. Joints may become swollen when inflamed and even turn red.
Osteoarthritis vs. Rheumatoid arthritis
The most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common, affecting an estimated 21 million adults in the US. It begins with the breakdown of joint cartilage, resulting in pain and stiffness in the fingers, knees, hips, and spine. Repetitive injuries and physical trauma may contribute to the deterioration of osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis can affect the joints and in some cases, may affect the blood, lungs, or the heart. Inflammation is the main cause of the pain, stiffness, and swelling. People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis are familiar with “flares” or active symptoms and “remissions” when the symptoms dissipate for a period of time. This ebb and flow of symptoms can go on for years or a lifetime.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Arthritis with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
According to Chinese medical theory, arthritis occurs when the Qi (energy, life-force) in the body becomes blocked. Unique acupuncture points will be determined after a careful evaluation of the patient’s medical history and once the licensed practitioner pinpoints the root cause of the patient’s Qi blockage. The practitioner will also likely prescribe Chinese herbs and make lifestyle and/or dietary recommendations.
In a study by the National Institutes of Health/National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, acupuncture was shown to reduce the pain and functional impairment of osteoarthritis of the knee. Participants had a 40% decrease in pain and improvement of joint function from baseline evaluation after only 14 weeks of treatments.
Lifestyle and Dietary Recommendations
Lifestyle and diet can make a huge impact on quality of life for people who suffer from arthritis. A healthy diet can ease arthritis pain and help keep your joints healthy. Chinese medicine nutritional therapy would recommend avoiding “damp” foods such as greasy and spicy foods, as well as dairy products.
Here are some other foods to consider adding to your diet:
Ginger - A natural anti-inflammatory. Take according to supplement label or make a tea with half a teaspoon of grated ginger root and eight ounces of boiling water. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
Pineapple - Bromelain, an enzyme in pineapple, reduces inflammation.
Cherries - Cherries are an excellent source of nutrients that may help to reduce joint pain and inflammation related to arthritis.
Fish - Cold-water fish such as salmon and mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce pain and swelling as well as keep joints healthy.
Turmeric - A natural anti-inflammatory. Take according to supplement label and use as a cooking spice whenever possible.
 Acupuncture Relieves Pain and Improves Function in Knee Osteoarthritis. http://nccam.nih.gov/news/2004/acu-osteo/pressrelease.htm
 Acupuncture for Arthritis by Diane Joswick. https://www.acufinder.com/Acupuncture+Information/Detail/Acupuncture+for+Arthritis