Many conditions give rise to arthritis. Arthritis is defined as inflammation of the joint tissue. The most common forms of this often debilitating condition are: rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a condition in which the cartilage between the joints wares away, normally through ordinary wear and tear. It usually occurs in the areas subject to the greatest stress, such as the knees, shoulders, hips, wrists, elbows neck and spine, although the second joints of the fingers and the joint at the base of the thumb are often affected.
2% of the population in Western countries under the age of 45 are affected by Osteoarthritis.
30% of the population in Western countries between the ages of 45 to 60 are affected by Osteoarthritis.
63% – 85% of the population in Western countries, over the age of 65 are affected by Osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is more common in persons 40 years plus. Excessive exercise or trauma can cause Osteoarthritis in some individuals of only 25 years of age.
Of the total number of recorded cases of Rheumatic Diseases, 27% are osteoarthritis
Lower back pain is the leading cause of work disability, osteoarthritis is the second.
Osteoarthritis is so common it could be viewed as part of the aging process; 85% of the elderly have x-ray indications of osteoarthritis, although only a small proportion show actual symptoms, osteoarthritis is also more common in women.
Symptoms include: Stiffness and pain around the joints (crepitus) and a creaking sound as the joint is moved, indicating that the cartilage has been worn away and bone is moving against bone without any protection.
Bony swelling of the joints, leading to deformity and accentuated by surrounding muscle wasting.
Synovitis, which are acute attacks of pain, swelling and inflammation with warmth and redness and occur due to inflammation of the membrane lining of the joint.
Initially the symptoms may be intermittent and are often worse in the morning. Generally osteoarthritis does not seriously impair joint function but for a small proportion of patients, it is a progressive process, with increasing stiffness, limitation of movement and joint destruction.
As previously mentioned, the joints of the body are covered with a smooth layer of cartilage which allows them to move smoothly against each other. It also protects the bones from shock or jolts which would normally cause the bone to splinter. With osteoarthritis, the cartilage wears away and as part of the attempt to repair, bony outgrowths (osteophytes) form at the margins of the joints. Pain, stiffness and occasionally loss of function result. Inflammation of the synovial membranes can cause swelling from increased fluid in the joint.
Osteoarthritis is broken down into two categories, as follows: Primary generalized osteoarthritis is known to affect joints that were previously normal. It can also have the tendency to affect certain groups of people (families). Osteoarthritis can be characterized by bony deformities as seen in scans and observable swelling and /or deformity around the middle joint of your fingers. Secondary osteoarthritis; which affects previously damaged joints. It is more common on joints that take your body weight, such as your knees. If you have experienced previous joint problems, such as a trauma to the area, are more inclined to develop secondary osteoarthritis Being overweight can make the condition more painful and speed up the development of the condition, particularly in the knees.
Rheumatoid arthritis: Is a condition in which the joints become inflamed and painful. It affects a growing number of the population: Rheumatoid Arthritis afflicts 1% – 3% of the world’s population. It predominantly afflicts women between the ages of 20 and 60 – and there is a minor hereditary association, and it accounts for 10% of all cases of Rheumatic Diseases.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is the second most common type of Arthritis and is also classified as a form of Rheumatism. Rheumatoid Arthritis is regarded as an Autoimmune Disease and involves chronic Inflammation of the Synovial Membranes of the Joints – (typically the Joints of the fingers, wrists, feet and ankles and often the hips and shoulders) and causes destruction of Cartilage, Bone and other adjacent Tissues.
Unlike osteoarthritis, the patient feels generally unwell, with weight loss, malaise, pain and stiffness in the hands, feet and knees. It can develop slowly, causing pain and stiffness in the joints, or it can appear quickly, causing a high fever with pain and stiffness in the larger joints. A clue to diagnosis is morning stiffness and it can take over an hour for the joints to loosen up. Ligaments tendons and muscles may also become inflamed and weakened.
Eventually joints may become deformed, causing pain and disability. The most severe rheumatoid arthritis destroys the joints. Although its exact cause is unknown, rheumatoid arthritis is thought to be an auto-immune disorder. Something triggers off an inflammatory process in the synovial membrane lining the joints. The synovium becomes inflamed, swollen and thickened, spreading over the cartilage and eroding it.
The condition may occur at any age but can often begin in the thirties, with the incidence rising with age. It affects more women than men. Complications of rheumatoid arthritis are many, which can include; infections of the joints, and also damage can occur to the peripheral nerve. The, lungs, heart and eyes can be effected as well as causing anemia. Ulceration of the legs and feet and, a wide array of side effects are commonly experienced by the use of prescription medication through your GP.
Rheumatism is a layman term used for any disorder which causes pain and aching in the muscles and bones. The term is rarely used by a professional, as it is very general and covers a large number of medical conditions where the sufferer experiences pain and stiffness in various parts of the body and if these symptoms are confined to the joints, arthritis may develop as a result of rheumatism .
Polymyalgia rheumatica is characterized by: painful restriction of movement of the shoulder and hip girdle is common and is most common in older people, the sufferer complains of intense muscle ache and stiffness that is symmetrically distributed and is, worse on walking, but may disappear latter in the day, however it is generally aggravated by activity.
Polymyositis, This is an inflammatory condition of skeletal muscle and sufferers may experience proximal muscle weakness, which is noted initially as difficulty with squatting, climbing stairs, or combing the hair, aching tender muscles are also present in some sufferers. Skin changes can also occur and present as dermatitis, scaling dermatitis and various types of skin rashes.
Endocrine disorders Can cause muscles to ache and become weak. Vitamin D deficiency Can cause pain in the bones and weak muscles.
Acupuncture is listed by the world health organization as being a highly effective treatment of both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and can produce results of lasting benefit. The acupuncturist will aim to warm cold areas or clear areas of excess heat, move stagnant fluids, and promote circulation of energy and blood. The result is a reduction in inflammation, long lasting pain relief and improved mobility. Treatment is particularly effective if started in the early stages. Treatment for arthritic conditions generally involves a multi therapy approach and includes: acupuncture, nutritional advice, herbal medicine and supplements specific to arthritis.
Much of your acupuncture consultation will be dedicated to a detailed system of TCM diagnosis (traditional Chinese medicine). Successful acupuncture treatment depends on an accurate diagnosis, so the initial consultation begins with typical questions such as: Your complete medical history, the symptoms you are experiencing, any pain you have had or are suffering from and what makes it feel better or worse, your sleep patterns, whether you experience any sensations of hot or cold, whether you experience dizziness, what you’re eating habits are, bowel movements and family health history.
During the consultation the acupuncturist will also note certain observations, such as: posture, facial colour, facial expression, the brightness of your eyes or lack of, for example: a white face is linked to disharmony within the body or cold, a yellowish complexion is related to dampness and a red complexion is a sign of excess heat.
The tongue is looked at and the pulse is taken and again this is done according to TCM principles. The colour, shape and coating of the tongue can reveal many patterns of illness and the pulse can give an indication of how individual organs are working in the body and whether they are underactive or overactive and whether your body is in a state of excess or deficiency.
Once the initial consultation is complete a TCM diagnosis is formed and from this diagnosis acupuncture point selection is then possible.
The length of treatment will depend on several factors, such as: the type of illness you have and its duration i.e. chronic or acute, your age, your individual healing abilities, how well you respond to acupuncture and whether you can avoid the conditions/cause of your presenting health issue. However many people can feel a difference in their health with only one or two appointments, but in general you should see some improvements after 3-4 treatments.
Because everyone is an individual, response times to acupuncture can vary, for example. After your first acupuncture appointment you may feel no difference in your presenting complaint, however many people feel sleepy, revitalized, or sometimes a little spaced out. You can also feel an immediate improvement after acupuncture; alternatively you can feel a little worse after treatment, before you start to feel better. Acupuncture can bring emotional, mental and physical problems to the surface, however this is a positive sign so don’t worry about it. As with any treatment, complete recovery takes time and patience.
Regardless of your medically diagnosed condition acupuncture and natural medicine has something to offer.
If you would like to find out if acupuncture can help your health and wellbeing then call, 94781415 or email us via our contact page to discuss your requirements or to find out more about acupuncture please go to our FAQs page. Alternatively give acupuncture a try and make an appointment now.
Best of health.
Best of Health
Paul Neilson CMP. L.Ac. ND. DHM.