By October 24, 2022
Oh arthritis. There was a time when even yours truly thought it was an inevitable part of aging. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way.
Yup! Let’s start with a review of what arthritis is, then we can get into the nitty gritty of addressing the symptoms and underlying causes.
Arthritis is a general term for swelling and pain in the joints, and unfortunately it’s super common. In fact, it’s the leading cause of disability in the United States. Arthritis actually encompasses hundreds of conditions that cause this joint pain (which can definitely make it trickier to treat). We’re mostly going to focus on osteoarthritis – which happens when the cushioning (cartilage) between two bones wears thin, and rheumatoid arthritis – which is an autoimmune disorder that results in the immune system attacking the synovial fluid (which acts as lubricant between the joints.
Don’t worry though, the same treatments we’re about to discuss can help with other kinds of arthritis as well. It’s important to get an evaluation by your Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner to make sure that the treatment they offer is the most effective for your particular ailment.
How do I know if I have arthritis?
Arthritis can be pretty hard to miss, especially once it really sets in. Symptoms can include:
- Pain in your joints
- Swelling in your joints
- Reduced range of motion
- And fatigue
Depending on your particular arthritis, there can be other symptoms as well. For instance, if your arthritis is caused by an autoimmune disorder (such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or psoriatic arthritis), there could be other symptoms like weight loss, weakness, or even fever.
Ouch. Sounds terrible. What can we do about it?
Western medicine doesn’t have a lot of treatment options outside of medication or surgery. And most of the medications that treat the symptoms of arthritis come with a long list of side effects. For instance, acetaminophen (tylenol) can wreak havoc on your gut and liver. Luckily, Traditional Chinese Medicine has alternative treatments to offer:
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, arthritis (like so many conditions) is often caused by a qi blockage. If you’re not getting enough qi or blood to your joints, it can cause pain and stiffness. Or, if the qi is blocked and stagnating in your joint, you could end up with swelling and pain.
One of our first lines of defense when it comes to freeing up your qi and getting it moving again is acupuncture. And there are tons of studies backing up acupuncture’s effectiveness against arthritis. It does wonders to relieve pain and swelling in joints, and helps to strengthen and regulate your immune system (meaning it works particularly well for rheumatoid arthritis).
Cupping and acupuncture often go hand-in-hand when it comes to treating musculoskeletal ailments (that is, issues with your soft tissues, muscles, and joints). It can work in much the same way as acupuncture, except instead of using needles to affect how your qi flows, you’re applying suction to lift the skin and allow blood and lymph to start flowing. This can help to increase healing in those damaged joints and removes the toxins or damaged cells that may have been contributing to your pain.
Unfortunately, with arthritis your bones are not the only thing to suffer. We also have nerves that run along those joints and may experience extra pressure or pinching when the bones rub against one another or because of the swelling in the joint. This is where B12 injections come in. Recent studies indicate that B12 can help your body regenerate nerves and brain cells to repair damage and reduce symptoms. This is especially helpful with autoimmune diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, and Multiple Sclerosis.
Needless to say, arthritis is not a new condition. Traditional Chinese Medicine has been treating the causes and symptoms of it for hundreds of years, so you know they’ve got some good herbal remedies. Some particularly effective options include:
- Phellodendron Tree Bark – works as an anti-inflammatory and is a traditional treatment for rheumatoid arthritis
- Atractylodis rhizoma – this is the dried rootstalk of a Chinese plant that works to treat “damp heat conditions” such as aching and swollen joints
- Coix seed – this is the seed of a perennial herbal plant which promotes fluid redistribution and expels dampness (goodbye swelling!)
- Ox Knee – this strengthens the sinews and bones, while also unblocking qi and improving blood flow
Altitude Acupuncture has found and used a supplement for the past several years that aims to reduce oxidative stress – a leading cause to arthritis and many other health related ailments. This supplement consists of five herbal ingredients, is taken once a day and the feedback from patients who are being treated for arthritis in our clinic has been nothing short of amazing.
What kind of Coloradan would I be if I left CBD off the list?!? Only teasing, but it is true that CBD has a place in Traditional Chinese Medicine. I’ve seen some amazing results when it comes to treating arthritis pain and stiffness. The key is that you have to get a quality product. We recommend True Science by LifeVantage – which comes in a body rub, balm, or body butter, or Mercy CBD Salve by Colorado Hemp Solutions. Both of these are available at our office.
We recommend that you use your CBD topical of choice daily on the affected area. For even better results, place a heating pad over the top of it for 5-10 minutes.
Sounds like there are a lot of options. What about on my end? Anything I can do to help ease my symptoms?
Of course! While you may not be in control of whether or not you develop arthritis in your life (thank you, genetics), there are definitely steps you can take to lessen the effects:
- Manage your weight. Unfortunate but true – carrying extra weight around can increase the pressure on your joints and worsen the symptoms of arthritis.
- Mix up your exercise. If you find yourself doing the same exercises over and over, week after week, it can actually cause increased wear on certain joints, as well as leading to muscular imbalances that can cause joint problems as well. Change up the exercises you do, or even the types of exercises you do.
- Drink more water. I’ll put it bluntly – your blood and lymph can’t flow properly if you aren’t drinking enough fluids. When it doesn’t flow properly, it doesn’t keep your joints healthy. Help the acupuncture and cupping do its job by staying hydrated.
- Eat healthy fats. Not only are Omega-3s great for your brain, they’re also great for your joints! Try to eat things like fish, almonds, and dark leafy greens daily (or get a high quality supplement).
- Dress for the weather. Cold weather definitely takes a toll on your joints, and doubly so for joints with arthritis. Try to keep them covered and warm while you’re outside, and don’t stay in cold, damp conditions for too long.
If you’re ready to get your arthritis symptoms under control and get back to your life, give us a call today! We can’t wait to get you feeling better.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or illness. Please consult your healthcare provider prior to the use of this product if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medications or have a medical condition. Individual results may vary.