Arthritis isn’t curable but acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine may help manage the degree of pain and discomfort. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) foresees the condition of arthritis as a blockage of blood and Qi (energy). The external environment plays a major role impacting the flow of Qi and blood through the joints of the body. The wind, humidity and cold penetrate through the body affecting joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles. In TCM, arthritic pain falls under four main groups:
dampness affecting the joints: environments which are humid, tropical and wet cause joints to feel heavy, swell and become painful. An analogy can be made about how dampness affects the joints, with a wet cloth. If a cloth is wet it is heavy and full. To eliminate the heaviness and wetness the cloth needs to be strained. Once strained and dried the cloth is ready to be used again. When joints feel like a wet cloth, drying herbs and acupuncture points are used may manage the fluid retention causing the obstruction, swelling, heaviness and pain.
heat affecting the joints: hot weather causes the joints to inflame, feel hot to touch and appear red. Here acupuncture points and herbs which are cool in nature are used to clear the heat in the joints possibly reducing the inflammation and pain.
cold affecting the joints: the cold weather may cause ligaments, tendons and joints to stiffen and become painful. An analogy to explain this can be; as a cold night approaches the frame work of a house tightens and vice versa when the sun rises and heats up a house, the frame work expands. Much like how the sun warms a house, warming herbs, acupuncture combine with moxa, wheat bags and infra-red heat lamps may warm the joints, circulating blood and Qi and in turn may keep the pain at bay.
Cold affecting the joints can also be managed with ginger moxibustion (moxa). Ginger moxa involves directly placing thin slices of ginger on specific acupuncture points and burning moxa (mugwort herb) on top of the ginger. The ginger and moxa contain warming properties which penetrate into the points which is used in in TCM used to dispersing the cold in the joints.
wind affecting the joints: when wind blows it can be sudden and forceful, it can be reckless and blow things around. If arthritic pain moves from joint to joint we say the wind is yang in nature forever has migrating and moving. One day the arthritic pain is in the hip joint, the next day the wind has blown and the pain has migrated to the knee joint. Acupuncture points and Chinese herbal medicine may be used to stop the wind from blowing the arthritic pain to other joints.