Arthritis - Acupuncture can help

      Home page
Millwoods Acupuncture Center
102, 2603 Hewes Way
Edmonton AB,   Canada

Phone: (780) 466-8683



TCM treatment of arthritis


I. Arthritis – Conventional Medicine

Arthritis is a term used by conventional medicine to describe a clinic phenomenon, in which patients feel pain on joints, swelling, stiffness, or numbness. Patients may also feel fever or cold on the joints. The reasons for arthritis are listed more than twenty whereas the treatment is hardly satisfied. The pain can be reduced with pain killer, or with aspirin-kind of anti-inflammation drugs, for a short time. Whereas the gastric side effects of such drugs make patients hardly to have them for long time. Later doctors may have to apply cortisone injection into the joints and the release of pain again can only last for about months. Basically, the treatment of arthritis in the internal medicine as a whole, is not a

promising process. In clinic, we found that many people have had surgical treatment for their arthritis on the hip joints or on the knee. It may be good for some patients. But, if it failed, the later treatment becomes difficult with the same surgery or with the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as well, since the structure of the joints have been changed.

II. Arthritis – Traditional Chinese Medicine

(1). Common Diagnosis system

In the TCM system, the clinic manifest of pain, swelling, stiffness, disformation in joints, is called Bi syndrome. It is not a unique disease identity either. It is believed to be an accumulation of disease-causing factors, such as Fire, Cold, Wetness, Wind, alone or in combination, in the joints. Depending on the reason of the Bi syndrome, the patient’s feeling on the joints is also different.

Here are examples:

(a). Re Bi. Re here means Hot in Chinese. person with the Re Bi feels hot in the affected joints. The skin on the affected joints turns red or touch hot. He likes cold on the joints, since cold patch or ice patch could release the pain for a short time. He does not like touch on the joints. The joint movement is limited, mostly because the pain. If the pain is released, the movement is restored. Most of acute rhomatoid arthritis shows this type of Re Bi.

(b). Xin Bi. Xin means Wind, means moving in Chinese. The pain feels in this joint today, but it may move to other joints next day. Joints feel stiff and the joint movement is limited. Xin Be is caused mostly by Wind. You see, the wind is moving, not stays in a fixed location. For this type of Bi, release of pain may not restore the movement of joints completely.

(c). Tong Bi. Tong means pain in Chinese. It means that the Bi syndrome is very painful compare with other kind of Bi syndrome. Patients like warm and hot on the joints. The

pain spot is fixed location, as the “ice” fixed on the joints. The skin on the affected joints is not red, but even pale and touched cold.

(d). Zhe Bi. Zhe means stiff in Chinese here. It means that the joints feel heavy, sour, or swelling. The skin feel numbness, and the hands or feet feel heavy.

(e). Tan Bi. Tan means phlegm here in Chinese. You know the phlegm out of your lung when you cough. It is a narrow concept of the Phlegm. In the TCM, Phlegm can stay and move in all of the body, causing various problem. For example, if the Phlegm moves and stays in the brain, it causes stroke. If it is in the heart, it causes the coronary heart disease. If it moves to the ovary, it causes the ovary cysts. Here it causes joint pain and heavy feeling. The treatment will be somehow hard with this kind of Bi syndrome.

The above diagnosis is only one diagnosis system in the TCM. In clinic, it is usually not so easy to make the diagnosis, since the clinic picture could be too simple as that patient only feels slight pain or ache and there is nothing more that allows the doctor to make a clear diagnosis. Sometime, and quite often, the ache in the joints is only a part of some other severe problems in the body. Diagnosis on the joint pain is not so important and the conventional TCM effort for the joint pain treatment is neither so satisfied.

(2). Alternative TCM Diagnosis system

We usually adapt another TCM diagnosis system. It is the syndrome diagnosis system. It regards the feeling on the joints as only a part of the body and a diagnosis needs the data collection from the whole body. This diagnosis system derived from a very famous TCM bible, the <<Shan Han Lun>>. It is also called the Liu Jin Bianzhen. Liu means number six, and the Jin, the meridian. Bianzhen means diagnosis. So it means six-meridian diagnosis systems. In this diagnosis system, there is no position of the Lung, one of the five organs (e.g. Heart, Spleen, Liver, Kidney and the Lung). This might be due to the fact that, the Lung is like a bell, that can be beaten to ring by factor out and inside of the body. To solve problem in the Lung, such as cough, phlegm, chest pain, one has to pay much attention where the disease-causing factors come from. From out side, such as the Fire, Wetness, Wind, Cold, Dryness, or from the inside of the body, such as phlegm, Qi deficiency, Blood stagnation, etc.. Since the functions of the large intestine, skin, and the joints are all linked more to the Lung, disorders in the skin (such as skin rash, allergic reaction, psoriasis), in the large intestine (such as constipation, diarrhea), or the joints (arthritis) have to seek the reasons from other systems and out and inside of the body too. This is unique in the Lung system in this diagnosis system.

Based on the syndrome diagnosis system, the herbs used for the treatment are not the commonly used for the joint problem, whereas according to our clinic experience, the healing effect is marvelous. For example, one may have fever, sweat, little chilling, plugged nose, little sour throat, and ache in the joints for some days. The herbs we are applying could work within 20 minutes for all of these symptoms, whereas in the herbal formula, there are no any herb ingredients that belong to the one that is usually used for joint pain.

If you are not familiar with the TCM diagnosis, you may not be interested to know all of the above in detail. However, what you need to know is that each TCM doctor is different in many aspect. You need not surprise if your new TCM doctor use different herbs or different ways of acupuncture for your treatment.

III. Clinic effects

In our clinic, we use acupuncture, herbal therapy, suction cupping, moxibustion, or bleeding therapy for the arthritis. The overall clinic effective rate can be summarized as high as more than 90%. However, each client is very different. Someone get rid of the pain faster than others. It can be as quick as only one treatment, but it can also be as many as 10 to 20 times of treatment.

IV. Factors affect the healing consequence

(1). Continuous damage to the affected joints.

The most common reasons for the slow achievement are, as we mentioned again and again, that one continues heavy physical exercise or labor works during the treatment. If you pain is caused by too much physical activity, how you can expect release of the pain by TCM or other therapy?

(2). Use of Cold patch.

Someone continues the use of ice patch, or continues work in a very cold environment, such as cold room, outside of room in winter, or have too much physical exercise out of the room in winter. All of these continues the damage to the joints and slow down the recovery. Note: the use of ice patch may make the pain into chronic!

(3). Too much intake of chemical drugs.

Another common error is the continuous heavy intake of artificial vitamins and minerals during TCM treatment. So often, I asked my clients, how long they have had the vitamins and minerals, and if they feel any improvement for the arthritis by taking such chemicals. The answers from 9 out of 10 clients will be “Oh, for several years already. I am not sure any good feeling yet.” See, why you want to take something for many years that did not make you feel any improvement?

I am not to discourage you not to take such things, but if you have already tried it for so many years, why you want continue to “try”? The TCM therapy never asks our client to take herbs for so long time so as to tell if it works.

So many times, I asked my client simply stop the take of vitamins and minerals for one week and see how they feel. The result commonly is: they feel much better than before.

(4). Previous surgical operation on the affected joints.

Another reason that may contribute to lower success is the fact that one has had surgical

operation before on the joints. The highest number of the surgical operation for one of my clients is 34 times of surgical operations! You can image how many scar tissue on his body. If the surgery works, it is good. Every one feels happy. If it fails, it makes later trouble for the TCM to work too. Therefore, always try a conservative therapy before take the suggestion for surgery. It is not your mistake that you did not try the TCM before, since we know that it is not available yet in the community in the North America. But it is your mistake now if you did not try it before the surgery. 

(5). Too long time interval between the acupuncture treatments.

It is usually recommended to have the acupuncture treatment twice a week in the first two weeks. Then it may become once a week later, depending on the reaction of the healing effects. This is minimum request. However, some people cannot follow this schedule for various reasons.

Every people should understand that the effect of acupuncture is not more than 24 hours, based on research observation. The effects of the acupuncture are to trigger out the healing mechanism of the body per se. Before body healing ability is restored, acupuncture has to be repeated frequently until the body can maintain the good effect by itself. This is just as to start a heavy truck: we have to give more gas from beginning until it starts run. Then it needs only little gas by little to maintain running. This is the same for an acupuncture treatment.

(6). Take one therapy but refuse another.

We use acupuncture, herbs, suction cupping, bleeding therapy, and others to reach the best and fastest healing results. From time to time, there are clients who refuse one or more of our therapies for some reasons. For example, he may not want to have acupuncture since he cannot tolerate the pain. Or he refuses herbal therapy since it tastes bitter. Someone likes suction cupping, some not. Someone does not care the pain in the ear when we use the bleeding therapy, some others do. We usually remind people that, we have two hands to help you, but you only want I use one hand. What should we say to you? Make a smart decision. 

Contact Us Today!