by Nicole Murray, L.Ac.

At Beach Community Acupuncture, we treat arthritis every day. Acupuncture is proven safe and effective in reducing inflammation and pain. Our recommendation for how often to come in will depend on how long you have had the condition, and how severe it is. With very painful arthritis that impedes daily living, we often advise people to come daily for at least 3-5 days to start, then we can space the treatments out a bit. For moderate, long-term conditions, we often see people twice a week for a few months.

If you are dealing with joint pain, come in; we can help!

About Arthritis

Arthritis is inflammation in one or more joints, and is characterized by pain and stiffness.
Arthritis affects an estimated 70 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Arthritis is a “complex family of musculoskeletal disorders consisting of more than 100 different diseases or conditions that can affect people of all ages, races and genders” (Arthritis Foundation).

▪ The two main types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Other arthritic diseases include gout, lupus, lyme disease, juvenile arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis in the United States, affecting an estimated 21 million adults. It’s a joint disease affecting mostly cartilage (the tissue covering the ends of the bones that form a joint). Cartilage allows the bones to glide smoothly, and absorbs shock from movement. With osteoarthritis, the top layer of cartilage begins to break down, allowing bones to rub together. Symptoms begin gradually, and become more severe over time.

There are several risk factors of osteoarthritis, including: age, weight, joint injury, and stresses on the joints from certain jobs or sports.

The most common signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis are:

▪ Joint soreness after periods of overuse or inactivity.
▪ Stiffness after periods of rest that goes away quickly when activity resumes.
▪ Morning stiffness, which usually lasts no more than 30 minutes.
▪ Pain caused by the weakening of muscles surrounding the joint due to inactivity.
▪ Joint pain is usually less in the morning and worse in the evening after a day’s activity.
▪ Deterioration of coordination, posture and walking due to pain and stiffness.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder. With RA, the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues, specifically the synovium, a thin membrane lining the joints. As a result of the attack, fluid builds up in the joints. Joints become very painful, hot and swollen. RA affects almost 1% of the US adult population, with an estimated 1.3 million people affected. This condition can also affect internal organs and the blood. Women are three times more likely than men to be affected.

Arthritis Treatment

We may needle close to the painful joints, in effective distal points to open the channels, or both.

Treatment of arthritis includes: weight control, rest, pain medication, stretches, and sometimes surgery. Acupuncture is frequently used as an alternative or complement to the western approach.

A Traditional Chinese Medicine saying is: “Where there is no free flow there is pain; where there is pain, there is no free flow.” In other words, it is crucial to free circulation of blood and “qi” in areas of the body that are inflamed and painful. Blockage in the meridians is classified as “painful obstruction” or “bi” syndrome, with four subsets: “wind” bi, marked by pain that moves; “hot” bi, which feels hot and with a lot of swelling; “cold” bi, which improves with heat and is worse in cold weather; and “damp” bi, with a sense of heaviness, and possible numbness, worse in damp weather. We can quickly assess the nature of the pain, and treat accordingly.