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Does Acupuncture Help Arthritis?

Does Acupuncture Help Arthritis?

Author: Best Acupuncture Near Me Staff

Arthritis, also known as Bi-syndromes in Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), is joint inflammation, and is often a misunderstood condition. While it may be labeled with one name, it is not a single disease. There are around 200 various types of arthritis that affect the joints and other related conditions. It is usually a condition that happens in people 65 and older, however, people of every age, gender, and race are affected by it. If we are looking at numbers, more than 54 million adults and 300,000 children suffer from some type of arthritis according to arthritis.org. We will take a look the different types of arthritis as well as the ways acupuncture and herbal formulas can help this condition.

Western Medicine Symptoms and Common Types

Joint symptoms can happen quickly or appear gradually over time. There are common symptoms that patients show across all forms of arthritis, but can affect different parts of the body.

Common symptoms of arthritis include:

  • Pain
  • Aching
  • Stiffness
  • Poor range of motion
  • Redness
  • Swelling

Symptoms will vary and are important to know when going to your acupuncture appointment. Your acupuncturist will be able to identify what acupuncture points would best suit your particular condition and symptoms. The most common forms of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis, affecting 6.5 million people in the U.S. alone; and osteoarthritis in which one in seven Americans are affected.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis – The most severe and well-known type of joint disease. It is an auto-immune disorder that causes inflammation in the joints, and the body’s immune system, which usually protects itself by attacking bacteria and viruses, incorrectly attacks the joints. This results in painful damage to the joints and the surrounding soft tissue usually affecting and deforming joints of the hands, arms, feet, and legs.
  • Osteoarthritis – Sometimes referred to as degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis, the pain in this type is primarily due to gradual degeneration of cartilage and the underlying bone. The protective cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones so that they don’t rub against each other wears down, commonly affecting the joints in the hands, knees, hips, and spine. Most typically onset from middle age onward.

Other types of arthritis include infectious arthritis, temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ), juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and gout. In Western medicine, anti-inflammatory drugs are most commonly prescribed for patients to ease the painful symptoms. Long-term use of these types of medicines, and over the counter anti-inflammatory medicines like Ibuprofen and Aspirin, can produce some potentially harmful side-effects like gastritis and ulcers.

Acupuncture and Arthritis

In Eastern medicine, arthritis is known as Bi-syndrome also known as the obstruction of blood and qi (energy). The main cause is usually environmental including Wind, Cold, and Dampness which penetrate the body’s protection and anchor themselves in the joints. An obstruction develops, which ultimately causes pain and other symptoms of arthritis. Having chronic Bi syndrome for a long stretch of time untreated can lead to qi and blood stagnation causing joint deformation and swelling which is far more difficult to treat.

The main categories of Bi Syndrome are:

  • Painful Bi Syndrome – Cold– presents itself with sharp stabbing pain in the joint, joints not able to flexed or extended, pain is worse at night and better during the day, and the pain is intense but short lived.
  • Wandering Bi Syndrome – Wind– presents itself with pain in joints such as fingers, knees, elbows, wrists, shoulders, upper back, and neck. Many of these joints will be affected at the same time.
  • Fixed Bi – Damp– presents itself with pain is usually stationary, soreness and fixed pain of joints, stiffness or numbness in muscles or skin, limited movement, and edema
  • Febrile Bi – Heat– presents itself with redness and heat with swelling and agonizing pain, knee swelling, movement limitation, dry mouth, and irritability.

There are also secondary bi syndromes which affect the organs including everything from the skin to the lungs and heart. There is also is deficiency bi which includes yin, yang, and qi/blood deficiencies. Eastern medicine shows a lot more in-depth and individualized treatment classifications which allow for a better healing process for the individual.

How Can Acupuncture and Herbs Help?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), there are many natural treatments that have been evaluated in the care for arthritis. Each specific type of arthritis calls for a new potential herbal remedy, and specific acupuncture points to treat each separate condition/pain-type which is best for creating a one-of-a-kind experience.

The goal of TCM is to find the underlying factors which contribute to the painful symptoms of arthritis. When you go to your acupuncturist, they will determine the TCM diagnostic pattern (how your ailments came to be), which will be essential in your acupuncture and herbal treatment.

In TCM, unlike in Western medicine, it is not the symptom that is treated, but the cause.

The goal of acupuncture is to relieve pain and pressure in the mind and body by increasing blood flow, therefore healing the affected area. Acupuncture will also boost the body’s natural pain killers to allow for natural healing.

Beneficial herbs for arthritis pain include*:

  • Ginger – this is one that may already be in your pantry and is an essential one in eastern medicine herbal remedies. It has strong anti-inflammatory properties. It is used to increase blood circulation allowing the affected area to better heal.
  • Green Tea – a popular drink everyone has heard of gaining popularity for its weightloss benefits, it is also used to reduce inflammation.
  • Turmeric – used in the form of yellow powder from a flowering plant and is packed with major anti-inflammatory properties. Research suggests that taking turmeric in capsule form to fight the joint pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis being as effective as over the counter anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen making the use of this herb very promising.
  • Eucalyptus – what can’t this herb do? We all know and love eucalyptus and it is most certainly widely available in U.S. markets. It is used orally or topically to treat a wide variety of conditions, not least of which being arthritis pain. The topical form is used for arthritis, because the leaves contain tannins which reduce pain and swelling. Using this herb with heat only amplifies its benefits.
  • Frankincense – also known as Boswellia, like the herbs above, also is known for its anti-inflammatory capabilities. It is thought to block substances that attack healthy joints.
  • Aloe Vera – last, but certainly not least we have one of the most commonly used herbs in eastern medicine. We all keep some in the house during the summer in case of sunburn, but that is is just the tip of the iceberg as to what this herb is capable of. It is usually applied topically to soothe painful joints and is available in the form of gel, cream, orally, or the entire plant itself. In the case of arthritis, the topical version of any variety is the way to go.
  • Acupuncture as an Effective Treatment for Arthritis
  • When you go to your acupuncture appointment, your acupuncturist, depending on your TCM diagnosis, may recommend you a customized herbal formula to help your condition. Acupuncture along with its herbal remedies could be the new frontier of arthritic remedies.
  • According to a systemic review study done in 2018, the results show acupuncture used alone or combined with other treatments to be effective in treating the conditions of Rheumatoid Arthritis, which, as we remember is one of the most common types. It also showed in its participants an improved quality of life and function day to day.
  • There are promising results coming from the research world in favor of both acupuncture and herbal formulas for arthritis.
  • Connect with an acupuncturist near you today with Best Acupuncture Near Me to learn more about how acupuncture and oriental medicine may help with your health.

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Customer Reviews

Acupuncture & Holistic Care

Customer Reviews

Donald Walter 2/1/2017

I had slipped and fallen all most a year ago. My MRI and X-rays revealed three herniated disks in my neck. C3-4 C4-5 and C5-6. I had been treated in many different ways. Ultra sound, physical therapy, massage therapy, medicines, the TENS therapy and even traction. I was told that it appeared as thought the only other option was surgery. I did not feel as though this was a good option for me as I had little or no confidence in this prognosis. I have friends that have had some success with acupuncture so I decided to try it. You came with a recommendation from a very close family friend. Without this recommendation I may have gone elsewhere and may or may not still be having the same symptoms. The treatment that I received from Dr. Peng was extremely helpful. Office visits were done in a very comfortable environment and to my surprise there was little or no discomfort or pain. As I said, I had been getting traditional treatment for this for nearly a year and was still not able to work at 100% or even close. I think that the most frustrating part was that the things that I could do before, mow the grass, exercise, work normally, all were made difficult. After only 4 (four) treatments over a two week period, things had improved greatly. I am at a point now where I may only go visit Dr. Peng once a week, and it is my feelings that very soon I will only have to see the Doctor on an as needed basis. It is hard for me to believe that I could have such astounding results in such a short time. I wish that I had tried Dr. Peng’s acupunture/accupressure therapy long before now. It is hard for me to understand with all the achievements in modern medicine that I had to spend all most a full year in pain. Also that none of my traditional treating doctors would recommend something of this nature. Perhaps all medical insurance carriers should look into acupuncture/acupressure as a means of helping more patients as an effective and cost reducing option. It has been nothing short of amazing the results that I have received and I have been recommending Dr. Peng and her practice to anyone that is having difficulty getting the results they may need to move forward after an injury. Dr. Peng, my family and I would like to thank you for allowing all of us to return to a pain-free normal life.

Amanda Rapp 2/1/2018

The nature of my condition was that I had pulled a muscle in my lower back, and I could hardly move. Before this situation occurred, I had used traditional Chinese medicine for other conditions in the past, specifically herbal treatment for allergies, and I knew that it worked for many other ailments as well. Dr. Linda Peng was very helpful and knowledgeable. She explained everything she was doing and did a great job. It’s always hard finding a good doctor you like who makes you feel comfortable, and Dr. Peng was very good. The clinic, procedures and doctor’s manner was very professional. Even though I’ve been treated using herbal medicine many times before, I was a little nervous because this was my first time actually having acupuncture. It was not painful at all. There was not much sensation when the needles were being put in my back, it was much less than having your finger pricked. The treatment was very relaxing and helpful. It didn’t help right away but the next day my back felt so much better. The pain from the pulled muscle finally went away after three treatments. It took a few days for the muscle to feel completely back to normal, but it helped tremendously. The day following each treatment was when it was very helpful. Overall it took about 2 weeks for the problem to go away. I would definitely recommend this treatment to others.

Helen Hawkins 2/3/2003

I had sciatica about 25 years ago in Florida, and I expected to be able to receive pain relief. However, I chose on acupuncturist who misdiagnosed my problem and made it much worse. It was the worst pain I have ever have had in my 86 years. I could not walk and the pain was constant from shoulder blades to toenails. Sleep was impossible except with medication. Dr. Peng began acupuncture treatments (early 2003) and recommended herbal pills and patches. After the third needling the p ain was almost gone. I was pain-free after the sixth treatment. My mental attitude became upbeat and I joined friends for church, eating out, and entertained my bridge club 3 weeks after I met Dr. Peng. She is caring and very professional as well as friendly and compassionate. She was as happy as I when the pain lessened and now is totally gone. I have now recommended Dr. Peng to several of my friends at the retirement center where I live. Acupuncture is the best pain reliever I know.

Danley Wolfe 01/01/2020

I developed peripheral neuropathy over ~ the past 5-7 years. Peripheral neuropathy is a non-specific disease indicated by functional disturbance or pathological changes in the peripheral nervous system. The condition is manifest by gradual loss of sensory perception in the extremities, with the soles and toes of the feet generally the first to be affected. Symptoms include “Numb Soles and Aching Toes,” which is also the title of a recent book on the subject of “living with your peripheral neuropathy.” The condition is often associated with changes in (degeneration of) the myelin coating surrounding nerve bundles, and a result of immune disease, often a side effect of diabetes and other conditions. During earlier stages, the affected person begins to notice numbness and tingling in the toes and soles of the feet. There are no specific cures to the condition, and treatments are aimed at identifying and removing the causes of the symptoms, and helping patients manage or live with their pain, which varies from uncomfortable to unbearable. EMG tests done in 1999 revealed my condition to be relatively advanced. I met with a well-known western neurologist at St. Luke’s Hospital (Houston Medical Complex) without any positive result or further understanding. Extensive testing ruled out all of the common causes of the condition. The doctor recommended taking tricyclics similar to nerve blockers used by epileptics and these were effective at reducing the pain. I brought up the idea of trying Traditional Chinese Medicine and the doctor strongly encouraged this as the next step (his next step was a spinal tap). Dr. Peng initially gave me a thorough examination paying special attention to my pulse (depth and strength, in addition to the usual measurement of rate of heart beat). I received acupuncture and herbal medicine, which together were targeted to balancing my system and improving circulation in the lower extremities. The herbal medicine (a cocktail of 7-8 imported Chinese herbs) had immediate effect – my hands and feet really warmed up and turned red within a few minutes. The acupuncture treatments extended more than 6 months. The acupuncture treatment was not unpleasant once I got used to it — the idea of being needled is much scarier than the actual fact, and Dr. Peng always communicated very well about the procedure. The treatments resulted in short-term relief and some longer-term improvement. I recommend TCM as an alternative treatment for this type of neurological disorder.

Rebecca Fan 01/01/2017

I have had knee pains for quite a while. Soon after that, my knee joints were swollen and my left heel also was painful. I visited several doctors, but none of them could remove these pains 100%. So, my friend referred me to see Dr.Peng for Chinese acupuncture. When I went to Dr Peng’s office and saw these tiny needles, honestly speaking, I suspected whether they could relieve my pain. I just thought to make a try. Can you believe that my pain was gone 50% after this simple try! That was a real miracle! I was so happy that my pains were totally removed 100% after 5 acupuncture treatments and the swollen joints were back to normal status. This is why I am posting and sharing my treatment experiences with you. If you have same problems like mine, don’t hesitate to ask Dr Peng’s help. She is not only excels at acupuncture skills but also very nice to each patient.

Marilyn Robinson 01/01/2018

I am a 2x breast cancer survivor, and underwent 10 months of chemotherapy. The treatment caused bone loss and resulted in an early menopause. As a side effect I have developed osteoarthritis. My husband had bone cancer, and felt relief only from acupuncture, which was recommended by his doctors. He also took herbal medicine for strength throughout his battle. His experience convinced me that alternative medicine and acupuncture for pain is very successful.Dr. Peng’s treatment has been painless with a few tiny needles placed inside my ear. There have been no side effects only a small sensation of pressure. This treatment has given me almost complete relief. I danced around the house with my 5-year grandchild and felt fine.You have been very caring and have listened carefully to my health needs. I highly recommend your services to other cancer patients and anyone who needs pain relief.Thank you, we need more doctors like you who care about their patients.

Courtney 01/01/2019

The nature of my condition was that I felt very tired all the time, and it was affecting my school work and social activities. It affected my family primarily because I was never able to function properly at home. Another condition I experienced was a lot of stress due to the amount of school work I received and, therefore, I became very tense. For a period of time I had a high degree of unhappiness most of the time. I was never happy at home, and I couldn’t explain why. There was no definite reason to this state of unhappiness either. My western doctor led me to try Traditional Chinese Medicine. I went to the western doctor initially with my fatigue condition because it was beginning to interfere with my schoolwork. I was checked for anemia as well as all other types of blood problems such as diabetes; however, each test came out negative to any kind of medical problem. My western doctor recommended trying acupuncture. She did not go into a lot of detail on how acupuncture or herbal medicine worked, but I already knew. My experience in receiving the treatment from Dr. Peng was phenomenal. I had never experienced anything like it. The first time I went, I was very apprehensive and tense about the procedure. I went into the clinic thinking it was going to feel like multiple shots over my body, but it wasn’t like that. For someone who can’t stand shots, I was very calm and soothed by the tiny needles. Dr. Linda seemed to know exactly what she was doing from the very start. I had gone to a different acupuncture doctor a week prior to starting Dr. Linda’s treatment, but I felt uneasy with that doctor’s method of treatment, the treatment was rushed and without ease and there was little explanation. Soon after as I experience my first treatment of acupuncture by Dr. Linda, I was so thrilled and could see a dramatic comparison between her and the doctor I had gone to before. Dr. Linda proved to be a much better doctor and friend. As I continuously went for treatments, I noticed it to be less painful each time and more relaxing. She talks to her patients, which is really important because it gains the patient’s trust. Her massages were also very, very good and relaxing. It felt so good and eased every muscle in my body.
The condition definitely improved. I could see results appearing within the first session. It was remarkable and fantastic. My mom was very happy and said I had become the same happy daughter she knew before. I would most certainly recommend this type of treatment to others because it is like no other. Western medical doctors can prescribe antibiotics and perform surgeries, but Chinese medicine seems to make the entire person feel relaxed and at ease.

Charlotte Pendergraft 02/02/2020

I came to Dr. Linda Peng’s Acupuncture clinic specifically for treatment of migraines, associated difficulties with sleeping — lots of dreams leaving me very tired in the mornings, and digestion problems. While I had heard of Acupuncture, I had never considered trying it. I decided to try it after talking to my Dad who had used acupuncture to help with a back problem he had and that it had helped him a lot. I have been treated for migraines for about 8 years and while I have medications to treat the migraine attack, I haven’t been successful in the prevention of migraines. After a discussion of my prior medical history and current medicines I was taking, Rx and over-the counter, Dr Peng discussed with me how acupuncture worked and also started me on a herbal medicine program. Initially, my treatments were twice weekly for a month, but I now go once weekly. I have been seeing Dr. Peng for two months. I have found the treatments to be relaxing and Dr. Peng’s manner to be sensitive. For the most part, the treatments are not painful other than slight sensation when the needles enter the skin. Dr. Peng is careful to monitor the electric stimulation of the needles so that she is able to avoid pain if the stimulation is too high. The massages that are included in the treatment are very helpful with stress reduction. Generally, when I leave the sessions, I am very calm and relaxed. So far, I have improved my sleeping and I am not as tired in the morning as I have been I have been successful in reducing my migraines from 10-15 months to about 4-6 months.I would and have recommended this treatment to others.
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