Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Arthritis, Pain.

Osteoarthritis is a debilitating illness where the cartilage and others structures around the joints are damaged and/or inflamed resulting in pain and stiffness. The knees and the hips are commonly affected but osteoarthritis can affect the hands or the neck too.


A recent review of all the treatments available to support patients suffering from osteoarthritis has shown that acupuncture may be beneficial. But how does it work? 

On a biomedical level, Acupuncture treatment may help to relieve pain and improve function in patients with osteoarthritis by:
• releasing of endorphins and inhibiting pain through the modulatory effects of endogenous opioids
• reducing inflammation
• increasing local microcirculation, which aids dispersal of swelling.

In Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), osteoarthritis is a ‘Bi syndrome’, a group of syndromes that affects the bones and joints and is usually characterized by pain, soreness or numbness of tendons, muscles or joints. This is the result of the body being ‘invaded’ by a pathogenic factor such as Wind, Cold, Heat and/or Damp. These pathogens will lodge into the body’s meridian (the energy pathways) and will block the free flow of energy (called Qi). This is what causes the pain and reduction in movement associated with the arthritis. The aim of the acupuncture treatment is to free the energy, removing the blockages and harmonizing Qi to eliminate pain, inflammation and swelling.


Traditional Chinese Medicine does not recognize osteoarthritis as one particular syndrome. The diagnosis is dependent on which pathogenic factor is present/the strongest and on the manifestation of the illness (Is there some swelling, is the joint warm to touch, worse in the morning etc…). So the treatment will be different too from one patient to the next. Each patient will receive a unique, customized treatment with different acupuncture points and different lifestyle and diet recommendations. 

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