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Symptoms of osteoarthritis may include joint pain and progressive stiffness that develops gradually. Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may include painful swelling, inflammation, and stiffness in the fingers, arms, legs, and wrists occurring in the same joints on both sides of the body, especially upon awakening.
TCM has a threefold strategy for treating Bone Bi syndrome: Resolve the Bi syndrome and expel the Wind, Cold, Damp, and Heat. Treat any underlying factors contributing to the development of Bi. Provide symptomatic relief by stopping pain.
This comprehensive strategy addresses the symptoms of arthritis and the nderlying causes.
The three modalities provide a powerful treatment option for individuals diagnosed with arthritis and all three are commonly employed simultaneously. Each may also be used alone.Acupuncture is most useful for treating the pain syndromes that accompany arthritis; herbal medicine for treating the Wind, Cold, Damp, or Heat Bi factors and underlying imbalances in the body; and Qi Gong for treating contributing psychological or emotional factors and for providing gentle exercise.
TCM may be particularly effective when used with conventional treatments and may be used alone when conventional treatments are ineffective or produce severe side effects.
Arthritis & Acupuncture
Bi and other pain syndromes account for more than half of all acupuncture treatments in the United States each year. Arthritis patients frequently use acupuncture to control pain once or twice a week, which is an effective complementary treatment.
As a type of Bone Bi, arthritis is treated with a combination of acupuncture and moxibustion. Three different kinds of points are used:
Local points are needled in areas of tenderness and pain. For example, pain in the knee might be needled with points such as Stomach 35 (Du Bi) and Gallbladder 34 (Yang Ling Quan), while pain in the elbow might be needled with points such as Large Intestine 11 (Qu Chi) and Lung 5 (Qi Ze). Because of the inflammation, acupuncture needles are commonly used for Heat Bi; for other types of Bone Bi, moxibustion, electrical stimulation, if appropriate, diathermy (heat lamp), and Tui Na applied to specific acupuncture points or joints may prove useful.
Specific acupuncture points are associated with the type of Bi syndrome diagnosed. Patients with a predominance of Wind Bi may have Urinary Bladder 17 (Ge Shu) and Spleen 10 (Xue Hai) needled; with Cold Bi, points such as Urinary Bladder 23 Shen Shu) and Ren 4 (Guan Yuan); and with Damp Bi, Stomach 36 (Zu San Li) and Spleen 5 (Shang Qiu). Heat Bi may require the addition of Du 14 (Da Zui) and Large Intestine 11 (Qu Chi).
If other underlying factors are contributing to the development of Bi, these are treated as well. Liver Qi Stagnation might be treated by adding Liver 3 (Hun Men), Kidney and Spleen Deficiency might indicate the use of Stomach 36 (Zu San Li) and Spleen 6 (San Yin Jiao). Blood Stasis may be treated by adding Spleen 10 (Xue Hai), and Phlegm by adding Stomach 40 (Feng Long). Any treatment for Bone Bi, regardless of the cause, may be strengthened by adding points such as Urinary Bladder 11 (Da Zhu) and Gallbladder 39 (Xuan Zhong).