In the past couple of years, studies have shown that 22% of the American population suffers from arthritis–that’s 1 in 5 people! The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, a condition that occurs when the cartilage between the joints breaks down. It usually affects the hips, hands, knees, lower back or neck.
In addition to genetic predisposition, being overweight, putting stress on joints through repetitive motion, and aging are common risk factors for arthritis. With an aging and increasingly obese U.S. population, a million new cases are being diagnosed each year. Not only is arthritis the most common cause of disability, it’s also quite expensive, costing in excess of $128 billion annually.
Western treatment options for arthritis generally focus on relieving pain and preventing further joint damage by way of anti-inflammatory drugs and other medications. In some cases, physical therapy or surgery is recommended.
Traditional Chinese Medicine offers a safe, natural way to control joint pain and other symptoms. In 2004, the Annals of Internal Medicine published a study which showed that patients who suffer from osteoarthritis of the knee experienced a 40% decrease in pain and a 40% increase in function following a series of acupuncture treatments.
Because acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine take a holistic approach, the goal is to balance all of the energy pathways (meridians) in the body. Strategically placing fine, sterile needles along the body’s major meridians unblocks any obstructions and allows Qi (the vital energy that animates the body and protects it from illness) to flow freely. Chinese herbs, massage, and stretching can also help to reduce pain and promote improved function.
Many arthritis sufferers prefer acupuncture to other methods of arthritic treatment because it is a drug-free, safe, and natural method for eliminating symptoms and providing relief. Here are some other tips that can help you minimize the adverse effects of arthritis:
- Stick to a healthy diet that includes anti-inflammatory foods such as green tea, salmon, broccoli, papaya, blueberries, sweet potatoes and tumeric.
- Lower your stress via breathing exercises, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, meditation, or yoga.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise to improve flexibility, strengthen muscles, and maintain a healthy weight.
- Schedule regular acupuncture appointments to keep your organs strong and your Qi flowing.