Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints. When this happens the distance between the bones reduces and the protective cartilage starts to wear away. When the bones no longer slide freely on each other the result is pain, creaking, stiffness and restriction of movement.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease resulting in swelling and pain. It is thought to be in the category of auto-immune diseases.
Osteoarthritis which results from normal wear and tear, overuse or follows previous injury.
Gout. Abnormal metabolism of uric acid resulting in the deposit of uric acid crystals in the joints.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) calls arthritis “painful obstruction”. It occurs when the normal flow of Qi and Blood is blocked and when the body’s natural healing and protection is weakened then external pathogens can enter and set up in the body. So we see that a combination of pre-existing potential in the body plus invasion of external factors is necessary for the arthritis to take hold.
Different pathogens result is different symptoms:-
Wind causes pain that moves from joint to joint
Damp causes fixed pain, numbness and heaviness
Cold causes severe pain but no redness
Heat causes red, hot, swollen joints
Without proper treatment these pathogens will lodge in the joints and remain for years until the structural damage gradually worsens.
TCM doesn’t use drugs that suppress the inflammation but uses herbs to express the pathogen eg. cold herbs to treat heat and hot herbs to treat cold. The herbs also address the original weakness that allowed the whole process to get started in the first place. Acupuncture and massage clear the blockage of Qi and Blood and allow the body’s natural healing mechanism to begin to work. Pain is relieved automatically when the Qi begins to flow so the need for painkillers gradually reduces.
As with all TCM treatments it takes time. Remember it took many years to get to this point. Often when treatment starts there can be a worsening of the condition for a short time but then improvement will be gradual but sustained. Usually some diet and lifestyle changes will help you to get moving again sooner.