Chinese Medicine Treatment for Arthritis


From the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine, arthritis and joint pain are considered as blockage in the flow of qi and blood throughout pathways in the body. In TCM theory, there are six external forces invade the human body to cause diseases. They are called the six external pathogens, namely wind, heat, dampness, fire, dryness and cold. The blockage can be caused by wind, cold, dampness and heat invade the body and enter into the joints.

Qi deficiency in internal organs such as heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, and spleen can make your body weak. Weather changes can induce the invasion of external pathogens. It is why people with arthritis sometimes claim they can predict rainfall due to the level of pain in their joints.

In Western medicine, arthritis is considered as an inflammatory condition of one or more joints. The most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In Chinese medicine, there are many patterns of arthritis in TCM terms. The most common patterns are wind, cold and dampness, which are why arthritis tends to aggravate in cold and wet weather.

TCM practitioners will treat the root cause of arthritis with acupuncture treatment combined with herbal formula. TCM treatment for arthritis aims to unblock the pathways whether the blockage is affecting the bones, blood vessels, tendons or muscles. Chinese medicine may be able to cure arthritis with mild symptoms. With severe symptoms, acupuncture can be used to relieve arthritis pain.

Chinese Herbs for Arthritis

1) For wind pattern, there is joint soreness and pain which moves from joint to joint. Movement of joints is limited, and there is often fever. TCM practitioners often prescribe an herbal formula which contains Ma Huang and Fang Feng.

2) For cold pattern, there is severe pain in a joint or muscle. This pain has a fixed location. Movement of joints is limited. TCM practitioners often prescribe an herbal formula which contains Ma Huang and Wu Tou.

3) For dampness pattern, there is pain, soreness and swelling in muscles and joints, with a feeling of heaviness and numbness in the limbs. The pain has a fixed location. TCM practitioners often prescribe an herbal formula which contains Yi Yi Ren and Cang Zhu. Before you decide to visit a TCM practitioner, somethings you can try on your own to relieve arthritis pain are Jiang Huang and Zheng Gu Shui.

Jiang Huang (Turmeric) has been traditionally used to reduce joint pain in Chinese medicine. Studies suggest that the natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of turmeric may help to ease the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis (1).

Where to buy: Turmeric

How to use: Turmeric can be used in the forms of powder and capsules.

Zheng Gu Shui is a liquid herbal formula has been used by martial artists in China. It is a famous Chinese herbal liniment for the temporary relief of minor aches and pains of muscles and joints.

Where to buy: Zheng Gu Shui for Pain Relief

How to use: You can soak cotton balls with the solution and apply to the affected area. You should keep the affected area moist with the Zheng Gu Shui, and wrap the soaked cotton balls around the affected area with gauze or plastic wrap. If there is a wound on the affected area, you can apply the Zheng Gu Shui to surrounding area to help speed up the healing process.

Acupuncture Treatment for Arthritis

The relief of arthritis pain using acupuncture has been studied by researchers from all over the world. Acupuncture points to ease arthritis pain are located all over the body, not just over the affected area. TCM practitioners believe that the use of acupuncture can be an effective form of pain management.

According to the World Health Organization, acupuncture has been proved through controlled trials, to be an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (2). Many studies indicate that acupuncture has a positive effect on the cells that contribute to chronic inflammation and joint destruction associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Acupuncture may help decrease your pain, reduce morning stiffness, and abate inflammation. Acupuncture is also effective for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis pain and joint dysfunction. Other TCM techniques may also be used such as cupping therapy and moxibustion to control arthritis pain.

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