Managing Arthritis Symptoms with Acupuncture

Get Arthritis Relief with Acupuncture

Most people are familiar with the term arthritis, which may conjure up images of twisted, knobby fingers or achy knees, but did you know there are over 100 different types of arthritis?

For many people, arthritis pain and inflammation cannot be avoided as the body ages. In fact, most people over the age of 50 show some signs of arthritis as joints naturally degenerate over time. Fortunately, arthritis can frequently be managed with acupuncture and Oriental medicine.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – a chronic, autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks joint tissue. The synovial fluid that encases the joints thickens due to inflammation. This can cause pain and structural deformities. Other symptoms include fatigue and fever.

Osteoarthritis (OA) – also called degenerative joint disease. When cartilage, the protective cushioning found between the bones, starts eroding away, symptoms of OA may result. This can cause pain, visible swelling and difficulty moving the afflicted joint.

Psoriatic arthritis – an inflammatory arthritis associated with the skin condition psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the skin. The most common symptoms include joint swelling, redness, fatigue and pain. Severe cases may result in misshapen joints.

While each type of arthritis has very different causes, risk factors and effects on the body, they often share a common symptom: persistent joint pain. Often the reason symptoms appear or ‘flare-up’ is obvious. Dampness pervading the air before a rainstorm, overusing arthritic joints or stress may trigger symptoms. Other times, the exact cause remains a mystery. However, no matter the origin, acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Arthritis with Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

According to Oriental medical theory, arthritis arises when the cyclical flow of Qi (energy) in the meridians becomes blocked resulting in pain, soreness, numbness and stiffness. This blockage is called Bi-syndrome and is successfully treated using a combination of treatment modalities. The acupuncture points and herbs that are used depend on whether the underlying cause of the blockage of Qi (arthritis) is caused by wind, cold, dampness or damp-heat.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine aim to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of techniques such as acupuncture, bodywork, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. Therefore, if 30 patients are treated with Oriental medicine for joint pain, each of them will receive a unique, customized treatment.

Call today to learn how acupuncture can be incorporated into your treatment plan for arthritis!

Study on Rheumatoid Arthritis

A pilot study found in the medical publication International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases 2010, demonstrated the safety and efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The study criteria focused on the disease activity, pain scores, functional ability and quality of life issues for the study participants. To evaluate disease activity, researchers used the DAS28 test. This test measures and records the levels of tenderness and inflammation of 28 separate joints in the body=
.

The study, conducted at Kwong Wah Hospital in Hong Kong, provided an average of 14 acupuncture sessions for each patient. At the end, researchers determined that improvements in the physical, emotional and social well-being of some of the participants improved. The improvement was significant enough to conclude that acupuncture is a viable treatment method to reduce pain and other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Source: Lao WN et al. Effects of Acupuncture on Rheumatoid Arthritis. International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases. Conference: 14th Congress of Asia Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology, APLAR 2010 Hong Kong Hong Kong. Conference Publication 2010; 13: 231.

Relief from Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is a joint disease that affects people who suffer from psoriasis. A chronic and recurrent condition, psoriatic arthritis can have periods of remission with little to no symptoms present. No matter what state the disease is in, acupuncture can provide relief. During times of remission, acupuncture can help strengthen the immune system and reduce the duration and severity of the next episode.

The most common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include joint pain, stiffness, swelling and redness. Any of the joints in the body can be affected. This includes the toes, fingers, neck and spine. When the spinal column is affected, a condition called spondylitis may ensue, making movement difficult and painful. When the hands or feet are affected, they may become moderately to severely physically deformed. There’s no reason to be tentative or fearful of utilizing acupuncture during a symptom outbreak. There are many acupuncture point combinations available, so avoiding areas of inflammation is not a problem.

A psoriatic arthritis patient may be diagnosed as having Bi-syndrome. This is a class of disorders that form when meridians become blocked and interfere with the quality and flow of blood and Qi. Patients suffering
from Bi-syndrome easily succumb to outside forces such as heat, cold, dryness, dampness and wind. For someone suffering from hot, painful knuckle joints, the predominant pathogenic agent is heat. Therefore, treatment may consist of reducing heat in the area by nourishing the blood and encouraging the free flow of Qi. When the area is free of stagnation, heat is less prone to build up.

Pain and other symptoms of psoriatic arthritis may fade away with regular acupuncture treatments and healthy changes in eating habits. Dietary suggestions include avoiding sugary, spicy and fried foods.

Help is available if you suffer from psoriatic arthritis. Contact us today for a consultation!

Pain Mitigation and Management with Acupuncture

Relieve Pain Naturally with Acupuncture

Increasingly, people are looking for more natural approaches to help relieve painful conditions instead of relying on medications. Acupuncture has no side effects and can be helpful for all types of pain, regardless of what is causing the pain or where the pain is located. Some studies have shown the pain relief it provides can last for months.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain before and after acupuncture treatment for pain shows dramatic decreases in brain activity–up to 70 percent. This decrease in activity in certain areas of the brain is thought to be the reason why acupuncture treatments reduce pain.

In addition to reducing pain, acupuncture also hastens the healing process by increasing circulation and attracting white blood cells to an injured area.

The basis of acupuncture is expressed in this famous Chinese saying: “Bu tong ze tong, tong ze bu tong,” which means “free flow: no pain, no free flow: pain.”

In other words, any kind of pain or illness represents an obstruction in the normal flow of Qi, or life force. Simply put, acupuncture moves Qi, restoring free flow.

Studies on Acupuncture and Pain

Acupuncture has become readily accepted as a viable option for pain management and studies support its therapeutic effects.

In a German study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, 1,162 adults with chronic, lower back pain were divided into groups treated with either acupuncture or the standard pharmaceutical and exercise therapy commonly used in conventional medicine. Researchers reported that acupuncture provided relief and lasting benefit to nearly twice as many lower back pain patients compared to drugs and exercise. Forty-eight percent of the acupuncture patients reported at least a one-third decrease in pain along with improvement in their ability to function, versus 27 percent of the patients treated with conventional methods reporting such benefits.

In another recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine analyzed 33 studies covering more than 2,100 patients from around the world on acupuncture for lower back pain. They found acupuncture provided definite pain relief in the short-term (defined as relief sustained for three weeks after the end of the acupuncture sessions).

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine is a viable treatment option for chronic pain, lower back pain, musculoskeletal pain, arthritis pain, headaches and post surgical pain. Whether your symptoms are just beginning to crop up, or you are looking for a more natural approach with less side effects, acupuncture and Oriental medicine can bring relief.

If you or someone you know suffers from chronic or acute pain, call today to see how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you.

That’s The Point!

Some of the most effective points to use in acupuncture are local points of tenderness. These points are referred to as Ah Shi points, which in Chinese literally means “That’s the point.”

Ah Shi points are especially effective in the treatment of pain and are often used in conjunction with local and distal acupuncture points.

Ah Shi points were first mentioned during the Tang Dynasty (founded in 618 AD) in the classic book Thousand Ducat Prescriptions. These points become spontaneously tender when disease or injury occurs, or in locations where Qi has become congested. They are not among the regular acupuncture points on a specific meridian or pathway.

Ah Shi point locations are not fixed; they are the points that, upon palpation, are the most sensitive. In many cases a small knot or pea sized nodule can be felt under the skin at these points of tenderness.

If you have pain, palpate around the area of pain to see if you can find the Ah Shi points.

Chronic Lower Back Pain Relief

Lower back pain is an extremely common concern, affecting anywhere from 75 to 90 percent of people at some point in their lives. Lower back pain is second only to the common cold as a cause of lost days at work, and it is one of the most common reasons to seek medical care, including acupuncture. In fact, one of the top reasons that people get acupuncture treatments is for lower back pain.

Despite the large number of pathological conditions that can give rise to lower back pain, up to 85 percent of cases are classified by physicians as ‘non-specific’. When lower back pain is examined from an Oriental medicine perspective, it is seen as a disruption to the flow of Qi within the area and associated with a specific disharmony, and it is treated accordingly.

The disruption of Qi that results in lower back pain is usually associated with the following three disharmonies:

Weak Kidney Qi
In Oriental medicine, the lower back is referred to as the “dwelling of the Kidneys.” The majority of chronic lower back pain conditions are associated with Kidney deficiency. Pain related to Kidney deficiency is typically dull and erratic. It is usually aggravated by fatigue and improves with rest.

Stagnation of Qi and Blood
When the flow of Qi along the meridians that traverse the lumbar region becomes congested, it is referred to as the stagnation of Qi and blood. This presents with a severe stabbing pain that is worse with rest and better with movement, tenderness to touch and can be accompanied by stiffness and tightness.

Invasion of Cold and Dampness
Cold, damp type pain is generally worse in the morning and when the weather is cold and damp. This type of pain improves with movement and the application of heat. Stiffness and contraction of back muscles that is aggravated by immobility indicates cold predominance. Swelling, numbness and a heavy sensation are indicative of dampness.

If you or someone you know suffers from acute or chronic pain, please call to find out more about how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you.

Acupuncture for Thyroid Health

Cultivate Optimal Thyroid Health

The thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly and is found at the front of the neck, below the Adam’s apple. Although small in size, this gland has a big influence on the body’s ability to transform food into the energy needed to sustain life. Thyroid hormones control the growth, temperature, and function of every cell in the body. It is a vital component of the endocrine system, an elaborate network of hormone-producing glands acting upon the cardiovascular, digestive, neurological, and reproductive systems. The importance of this gland, therefore, cannot be understated.

When functioning properly, the thyroid gland secretes just the right amount of thyroid hormone to regulate almost all the metabolic processes in your body. Too much or too little of these vital body chemicals, and it can drastically influence energy levels, body weight, and your mental health. Cultivating your thyroid health, combined with proper nutrition and diet, can boost energy, improve appetite, reduce insomnia, relieve depression symptoms, improve circulation, relieve muscle aches, and assist you in recovering from endocrine disorders. An easy way to improve thyroid health and the health of your endocrine system, is to eat nutritious meals and maintain a well-balanced diet.

There are two primary ways the thyroid can malfunction: It can be overactive, or hyperthyroid, producing symptoms such as a rapid heartbeat, excessive hunger, weight loss, diarrhea, and heat sensations. Or, conversely, it can underproduce, known as hypothyroid, creating symptoms like a slow heartbeat, reduced appetite, weight gain, constipation, and cold sensations.

If you experience any symptoms, it is important to see your medical doctor in addition to visiting your practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine. Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can be diagnosed by testing the levels of thyroid hormones in your blood. Hormones secreted by the thyroid are measured, as well as thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), a chemical released by the pituitary gland that triggers hormone production in the thyroid.

Oriental medicine treatments take all symptoms into account and are aimed at balancing the production and release of thyroid hormones through a variety of approaches, including acupuncture and herbal remedies, lifestyle changes, and special exercises. In the treatment of thyroid problems, acupuncture can be used to restore hormonal balance, regulate energy levels, smooth emotions, and help manage sleep. There are several acupuncture points on the ear and the body that can be used to regulate the production of thyroid hormones.

If you have a thyroid issues, call for a consultation. A custom-tailored treatment plan will be created to suit your individual needs so that you can feel better quickly and safely!

Exercises for Detoxification

In order for the endocrine system to function at optimum levels, the process of detoxification must occur. Detoxification removes waste and potentially hazardous material from the body. Waste can be eliminated by
different means, including through urine, tears, sweat, and feces. When the body is able to properly detox, the thyroid greatly benefits. Whether you have symptoms relating to thyroid issues, or simply wish to be proactive and help prevent problems, here are a few detoxifying exercises you can perform.

According to the theory of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, the spleen plays a vital role in removing waste products from the body. An efficient spleen will, therefore, help optimize the thyroid’s function of producing and releasing hormones. When food and drink are ingested, it is the spleen’s duty to separate the clear from the turbid. The clear, which contains valuable nutrients, is sent on to be utilized by other organs. The turbid, useless or possibly harmful matter, descends to the large intestine, where it is prepared for elimination.

To help invigorate your spleen, spending short amounts of time upside-down can help reverse the effects of gravity. If doing a head or hand stand for two to three minutes is not your thing, there are two alternatives: One is to lay face down on the floor, bend your elbows, and rest your chin in your hands so your head is positioned above the trunk of your body. Next, bend your knees and start swinging your feet back and forth. You may remember doing this one when you were a child. This can be done for as long as it is comfortable for you.

The next exercise involves lying on the ground, with your backside down. Raise your legs in the air and rest them against the wall. Relax comfortably into the pose for up to five minutes. You can keep your arms extended to your sides on the floor. If you like, you can raise your arms in the air for 30-40 seconds, and then rest them.

These upside-down exercises can assist in releasing stuck food, gases or other matter that remain trapped somewhere in your digestive system. Removing these obstacles helps improve the blood flow to and from all the organs.

One quick way to help jog your sluggish system is to literally jog in place. Even 30 seconds of doing this will stimulate your system. Or, you could try jumping up and down five times in quick succession.

The best time to perform these exercises is before eating, or waiting at least two hours after a meal.

Foods to Support Thyroid Function

When it comes to lifestyle changes, a diet rich in protein, calcium, magnesium, and iodine helps support thyroid function.

Here are three groups of foods to include in your diet:

Sea Vegetables/Seaweed
Iodine is an essential element that assists the thyroid in producing thyroid hormone. By increasing iodine intake, patients have seen an increase in the production of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).

Although it is an essential element, too much iodine, such as an overdose of supplements, can have toxic side effects. The best natural source of iodine is kelp and other sea vegetables.

Brazil Nuts, Sunflower Seeds, and Walnuts
Containing high amounts of selenium, which is essential to efficient thyroid function and protects from goiter, these foods also contain zinc, iron, and copper–all trace metals vital to thyroid function.

Many hypothyroid patients have been found to have deficiencies in trace minerals.

Carrots, Citrus Fruits, Almonds
These are just a few foods high in antioxidants that help the thyroid gland mitigate oxidative stress.

Revitalize Your Skin Health

Keep Your Skin Healthy with Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be very effective at treating skin conditions. Treatments can provide quick relief for acute symptoms, as well as significant and lasting relief from recurrent or chronic skin conditions.

The skin reflects and reacts to imbalances within the body’s internal landscape and the effects of the environment. Internal disharmonies caused by strong emotions, diet, and your constitution can contribute to the development of a skin disorder. Environmental influences, such as wind, dryness, dampness and heat can also trigger or exacerbate skin disorders.

To keep your skin healthy and beautiful on the outside, you must work on the inside of your body as well. Increasing the flow of energy, blood and lymph circulation improves the skin’s natural healthy color. Promotion of collagen production increases muscle tone and elasticity; this helps to firm the skin. Stimulating the formation of body fluids nourishes the skin, adding moisture and making it softer, smoother and more lustrous.

General skin conditions that can be treated with acupuncture and Oriental medicine include acne, dermatitis, eczema, pruritus, psoriasis, rosacea, shingles and urticaria (hives). Evidence that acupuncture and herbal medicine have been used for skin disorders, such as hives, can be found in early medical literature dating back to 3 AD. Medicinal plants and stone needles were utilized to relieve and cure discomforts of the external areas of the body.

Oriental medicine does not recognize skin problems as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of techniques including acupuncture, herbal medicine, bodywork, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. Therefore, if 10 patients are treated with Oriental medicine for eczema, each patient will receive a unique, customized treatment with different lifestyle and dietary recommendations.

Acupuncture views nutrition in a complex light, through the application of Oriental medicinal wisdom to dietary habits. In short, certain foods are considered too “yang”, or hot, to eat in excess during the warmer months, while others are prized for their “yin” ability to cool the body. Overall, the goal is balance between the internal yin and yang of the body. A healthy, nutritional diet, good sleep and moderate exercise can keep your skin and physical form at its best.

If you suffer from a skin condition or would like to know how to optimize your skin health, call today to find out more about how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you

Chronic Dry Skin? Try Acupuncture!

When the superficial layer of skin becomes dehydrated due to changes in weather, allergic reaction, certain medications or bathing/showering, it may develop fine flakes and dry patches. The medical term for this
condition is called xerodermia or xerosis, and it may be temporary or respond well to moisturizers. Unfortunately for some, this condition becomes chronic and causes uncomfortable symptoms that require professional treatment. If chronic dry skin goes untreated, there is a higher risk of secondary conditions like tears in the skin that lead to infection, rashes, eczema, cellulitis or thickening and darkening patches

According to the theory of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, the lung organ has important associations with any condition relating to dryness. One of its primary functions is to lubricate all the other organs, including the skin as this is the largest organ of the body. The skin plays an important role in detoxification. The lung is also known as “the delicate organ” due to its sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures.

To further demonstrate the relationship between the lung and dryness, the Neijing, a highly regarded acupuncture and Oriental medicine text, states that “the lung has a natural aversion to dryness.” Not only is the lung vulnerable to dry conditions, but when affected, it can cause conditions of dryness in other areas of the body. Therefore, a practitioner may diagnose a patient exhibiting symptoms of chronic dry skin as having a lung imbalance.

If you have concerns regarding your symptoms of chronic dry skin, contact us for a full evaluation to discover what imbalances within your body may be contributing to your symptoms!

Treating Hives with Acupuncture

Hives (urticaria) are swollen and red bumps, patches or welts on the skin that appear suddenly. Itching is the most common symptom associated with hives, although some people report that hives cause a stinging or burning sensation.

Hives can occur anywhere on the body including the hands, face, lips, tongue, throat or ears. A sign that the whole body is experiencing a hypersensitivity reaction, a hives outbreak can occur due to a wide array
of stimuli. While intolerance to certain foods, additives, intense emotions, sunlight exposure and medications can all cause hives; in 70-75 percent of outbreaks, the exact cause of hives remains unknown.

Whether they last for just a few minutes, a few hours or persist for several weeks, hives are rarely a medical emergency. However in some cases, they are the first sign of a strong allergic reaction to something and can be accompanied by shock or difficulty breathing, which can be life threatening. About 20 percent of people will experience hives (urticaria) at some point in their lives.

While standard treatment for acute cases of hives involves antihistamines or a corticosteroid drug to relieve symptoms, many people are turning to acupuncture and Oriental medicine to address underlying imbalances that cause this condition and help stop recurrent outbreaks.

In Oriental medicine, an outbreak of hives is described as *wind invading the skin and the meridians*, causing itching and swelling. When the eruptions are red, it is an indication that *wind* and *heat* are involved. When the eruptions are a pale pink or white, it is likely that the diagnosis will be *wind-cold invading the skin*. How the condition is diagnosed will determine what acupuncture points are used, what herbal medicines are prescribed and what lifestyle/dietary recommendations are made.

Treatments are directed at addressing both the cause and the symptoms by providing immediate relief from the itching and swelling and addressing the underlying imbalances and triggers that are causing the condition.

A study published in the *Internet Journal of Dermatology* examined the efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of chronic hives (urticaria). The results showed that acupuncture was able to reduce both episode rate and episode duration of urticaria by as much as 25 percent. After three weeks, the majority of the acupuncture-treated patients experienced partial remission of their symptoms. The researchers also noted that the greatest improvements were seen in the third week of treatments and that the efficacy of acupuncture seemed to increase with each treatment.

Finding Eczema Relief

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a skin disorder resulting in rough, red and itchy patches on the body. In addition, there can be a host of other symptoms and complications that can greatly vary between individuals. For some, small blisters may be present that when scratched, may bleed or ooze fluid and then crust over when dry. For others, a persistent need to scratch itchy skin may cause anxiety and sleep problems. Other symptoms of eczema include nighttime itching, red or brown skin discoloration, bumps that ooze fluid and harden when dry, scaly-looking, thick, cracked or dry skin, skin inflammation or sensitive, uncomfortable skin sensations. Complications that may arise from the symptoms of eczema include asthma, allergies, skin infections, insomnia, emotional problems or eye problems.

Usually, eczema is considered a chronic condition as it can take a long time to resolve. There may be long periods of remission, when the skin shows no symptoms. However in the presence of a trigger, such as pollen or dust, or after a stressful life event, symptoms of atopic dermatitis may come back. Other potential triggers for eczema include dry skin, bacteria and viruses, stress, excess sweat, hot and humid environmental conditions, wool, certain chemical cleansers and soaps, smoke/air pollution and certain foods like eggs, milk, wheat gluten or peanuts.

Due to the red and itchy nature of skin affected by eczema, acupuncture and Oriental medicine largely defines this condition as one related to heat. This manifestation of heat on the skin may stem from an internal imbalance (e.g. a weakened immune system), an allergic reaction (e.g. peanut allergy) or a combination of both these internal and external factors.

According to the philosophy of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, there are many reasons why the body may succumb to a heat condition and lead to the manifestation of eczema symptoms. Strong or prolonged emotions such as anger, rage or jealousy may contribute to a pathological buildup of heat. Overworking may also be a contributing factor, as this may interfere with other activities such as exercise and things that bring joy and pleasure into one’s life.

Each patient will have a different set of circumstances. At the time of your visit, mention any emotional or behavioral difficulties you feel may be related to your eczema. This way, a treatment plan can be developed that will address all of your symptoms.