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Wenhui Qiao, OMD, LAc
Acupuncture and Osteoarthritis
Holycross Acupuncture and Herbs

Acupuncture and Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is caused by the breakdown and eventual loss of the cartilage of one or more joints. Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative arthritis. Among the over 100 different types of arthritis conditions, osteoarthritis is the most common, affecting over 20 million people in the United States.
Primary osteoarthritis is mostly related to aging. With aging, the water content of the cartilage increases and the protein makeup of cartilage degenerates. Repetitive use of the joints over the years, irritates and inflames the cartilage, causing joint pain and swelling. Eventually, cartilage begins to degenerate by flaking or forming tiny crevices. In advanced cases, there is a total loss of the cartilage. Loss of cartilage cushion causes friction between the bones, leading to pain and limitation of joint mobility. Inflammation of the cartilage can also stimulate new bone outgrowths to form around the joints.
Secondary osteoarthritis is caused by another disease or condition. Conditions that can lead to secondary osteoarthritis include obesity, repeated trauma or surgery to the joint structures, abnormal joints at birth, gout, diabetes and other hormone disorders.
Have you ever wondered about treating the pain, swelling and stiffness of arthritis with acupuncture? Even the reaction to weather changes (rheumatism) can be reduced with properly applied acupuncture and moxabustion in accordance with Oriental theory.
Traumatic arthritis is best helped when treatment is begun promptly after the injury occurs. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs may be effective and present less side effects than surgery, steroids or NSAIDs. Even for patients who eventually need a joint replacement, acupuncture and Chinese herbs before and after the surgery can aid in pain relief, speed rehabilitation, and correct complications of surgery. Symptoms associated with arthritis and fibromyalgia, such as problems sleeping, fatigue and depression can also respond to skillfully applied acupuncture.
Treatment, including herbs and roots, are individualized to each patients presentation and in some situations may improve response to Western drugs at lower dosages, as well as reduce their side effects. Treating osteoarthritis with acupuncture is a long-term process, especially if the condition has been present for many years. Traditional methods of treatment, such as acupuncture, reduce the suffering of conditions like arthritis at a reasonable cost with minimal risk and side effects.
A NIH supported study showed that acupuncture provided significant improvement in function and pain relief in 570 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee who received 23 acupuncture sessions over 26 weeks.

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