“Which arthritis do I have?”
- Arthritis simply means inflammation of the joints. There are
numerous kinds, some of which include:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): chronic systemic inflammatory
disease with secondary degeneration of cartilage, bone, tendons
and ligaments. RA tends to present symmetrically, in the hands
at the first 2 knuckles of the fingers, and the limbs, with
tenderness, warmth, and a crinkling noise at times; there are
periods of exacerbation and remission; there is stiffness upon
waking or inactivity for more than an hour; systemic symptoms
include weakness, fatigue, weight loss and a low fever.
- Reactive Arthritis: from some kind of infectious agent
(uro-genital, respiratory, or GI tract); Rheumatic fever is
- Enteropathic Arthritis: Joint pain secondary to inflammatory
bowel disease like Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease.
- Psoriatic Arthritis: Joint pain secondary to psoriasis.
- Osteoarthritis: the most common form.
- Osteoarthritis (OA), aka “Wear and Tear” arthritis:
this disease process is a progressive loss of articular cartilage
resulting from inflammation caused by attempts of bone to remold
itself creating osteophytes, or spurs. It presents in the knees,
hips, hands (the 2nd and third knuckles of each finger), cervical
& lumbar vertebrae, wrists and at any injured joint. It
is non-symmetrical and may only present in one joint. The degeneration
may begin in your 20s or 30s, but not show any symptoms until
your 60s. With OA, you might feel stiffness for only 5-10 minutes
in the morning or after inactivity; there are no systemic symptoms;
the affected joint may be hardened and is seldom warm or red.
The most distinguishing long-term sign is the appearance of
nodes in the knuckles along with joint crepitus-- a popping
or clicking sound.
- As we age, we all show joint degeneration on X-Ray, but whether
we have any pain or discomfort and warrant the OA diagnosis
depends very much on your overall health.
- Are you physically active on a regular basis? Or are you largely
- Are you overweight, thereby placing undo stress and strain
on your weight-bearing joints?
- How’s your digestion? Any bloating or indigestion?
- Do you get sick often?
- Any family history?
Bi Syndrome: Painful Obstruction Syndrome
- In Chinese Medicine, arthritis is seen as an attack of an
external pathogenic factor (EPF) in the form of Wind-Cold-Damp
that invades the body and the joints obstructing the circulation
of Qi, or energy, and Blood causing pain, stiffness and possible
inflammation. Our Defensive Qi, our immune system, may be healthy
but simply overwhelmed by the EPF or it may be compromised and
attacked by a relatively strong EPF.
- Bi can come from changes in weather and an inability to adapt
to them, sitting on cold cement, swimming in the ocean, running
in the rain; it can come from excessive exercise or work and
repetitive use; an underlying Blood or Yin deficiency not nourishing
your joints and muscles (especially common in the elderly);
injuries that don’t completely heal leaving behind Qi
& Blood stagnation or compromised circulation, which can
invite further pathogen to enter; and emotional problems that
either stagnate your Qi and Blood or deplete them.
- The individual patterns are all based on Wind-Cold-Damp but
with one part being the predominant EPF:
- Wind Bi: pain & soreness moves from joint to joint,
decreased Range of Motion (ROM);
- Cold Bi: severe pain, often unilateral with decreased
ROM, worse with cold weather;
- Damp Bi: pain, soreness, and swelling, heaviness and
numbness that is fixed in place and is worse with Damp weather;
- Damp-Heat Bi: if the WCD Bi gets unresolved and lingers
and there is an underlying deficiency, it can transform through
stagnation into Heat presenting with pain, swelling and inflammation
which can be hot to the touch, decreased ROM. There can also
be thirst and a fever with an acute exacerbation.
- Bone Bi: this chronic persistent obstruction that overtime
has obstructed body fluid circulation producing Phlegm--along
with Damp produced from digestive weakness-- and Blood stagnation
which further impairs circulation leading to muscle atrophy,
swelling and deformity. Here we can see spurs and nodes forming
in the joint spaces.
"What can I do about my arthritis?"
- Acupuncture and Chinese Medicinal Herbs: One of the conditions
most often researched and proven to be extremely effective is
in the treatment of OA with acupuncture. When you add the ability
to prescribe medicinal herbal formulas that can not only be
specific to your areas of pain, but also treat the underlying
issues, you have one of the most effective treatment methods
- ZERO coffee, decaf and regular, linked to rheumatoid arthritis and joint deterioration.
- ZERO dairy, also linked to inflammatory joint disorders and osteoporosis
- Lifestyle: balancing moderate exercise with rest; use of
ice only 24 hours after anexacerbating activity and then the use
of heat (except for RA), weight reduction, and physical therapy
to strengthen surrounding musculature.
- Avoid: animal protein consumption, sugar, wheat an dglutinous grains if you are sensitive or gluten intolerant, and night shade veggies (peppers, eggplant,
tomatoes, and white potatoes).
© Jordan Hoffman, L.Ac., Dipl. OM, 2007. All
The information presented here is not medical
advice, is not intended as medical advice, and is intended to
provide only general, non-specific information related to Chinese
Medicine and Acupuncture and is not intended to cover all the
issues related to the topic discussed. You should consult a licensed
health practitioner before using any of this information.
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