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.
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.