May – Arthritis Awareness Month

Wow, one out of every three people are affected with arthritis according to eh CDC!  That is a new one on me.  There are many forms of it, the most common being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.  Lets start with the definition of a Joint:  it is where two or more bones come together and they are covered by cartilage which cushions the joint.  This cushion is present to allow movement of the joint without pain.  There is also a lining called the synovium, which produces synovial fluid, that nourishes the joint and keeps down friction.  There are also the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that support the joint as well. Back to arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form occurring when the cartilage covering the ends of the bones starts to deteriorate.
Without the cartilage, the bones start to rub on each other and that leads to a cascade effect of pain and swelling.  It can occur in any joint and is most common in the weight bearing ones, often occurring as time passes (aka with “age”).  Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disease that can happen at any age and can be long lasting.  It can affect any joint, but is most common in the hands, wrist, and knees.  The immune system (our defense system) attacks itself (I know, bizarre), and causes an inflammation in the joint lining (the synovium).  The inflammation spreads and can reek havoc on the surrounding cartilage and bones. The most common symptoms of arthritis are pain, swelling, stiffness, redness, and warmth of the joint.  Causes are vast, but age, gender (women over men), obesity, environment and work (repetitive stress, lifting), and diet.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at “arthritis” as bi (bone) syndrome, and occurs when there is a blockage of the normal flow of qi (energy) in the body.  It looks at the cause and how it manifests.  For example, is the joint hot and swollen (that would be more of a damp heat bi syndrome), or is it worse when it is cold/damp and raining out (that would be cold damp bi syndrome).  TCM will look at all the factors of your life, work, diet, exercise, how your body is working together, stress, emotions, and any history of trauma and come up with a pattern differentiation (diagnosis) and work with you on the best treatment protocol.  It will often include acupuncture, Chinese herbs, exercise, bodywork, moxibustion, and dietary recommendations.  It takes time to treat, because of course it took time to get to the point of it occurring in the body, but TCM can be a fantastic alternative to the more conventional Western treatments which often include medicines which can be harsh on your body.  So if you, or someone you know has this disharmony occurring, do not think you have to “live with it”, or “its just part of getting old,”  seek out a licensed practitioner and start living life a pain free!

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May 23rd, 2007

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I had severe back and hip pain from a work related injury and the pain completely resolved within a couple of months. Whenever you are having a bad day, come see Stephanie and she will definately brightn it!

- Zandrea, Portland, OR

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