Acupuncture in Nanaimo, BC

(250) 667-8242


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Acupuncture and Arthritis

If you live with arthritis, you know what a challenge it can be to find relief from joint pain and other symptoms. But there are many things

you can do to manage and control your arthritis and live a healthy, active life. Acupuncture and TCM can be powerful additions to any treatment plan, without causing harmful side effects.

Arthritis according to Western Medicine

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis, affecting more than 21 million Americans and many more world-wide. It occurs when the cartilage between the joints breaks down, usually affecting the hips, hands, knees, low back, or neck.

Some factors can increase your risk: a joint injury, being overweight, aging, repetitive motion and genetics.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is another type, affecting 2.1 million people in the United States. This chronic condition occurs when the lining of the joints becomes inflamed, and can lead to long-term joint damage and even loss of movement. Women are two to three times more likely to get RA.

RA often starts in the hands or feet, and usually affects the same joints on both sides of the body. Symptoms include:

1) Warm, swollen or tender joints
2) Joint stiffness, especially in the morning

3) Fatigue
4) Flu-like symptoms such as fever
5) Muscle pain and weakness

Treatment options
Western treatment generally focuses on relieving pain and preventing further joint damage. Often this is done through the use of anti-inflammatory drugs and other medications, as well as self-care and physical therapy. In some cases, surgery may even be needed.

Acupuncture offers a safe, natural way to control joint pain and other symptoms and maintain overall health. In fact, a 2004 study showed that patients with OA of the knee experienced a 40 percent decrease in pain and a 40 percent increase in function after receiving a series of acupuncture treatments.

A whole-body approach to relief
Acupuncture and TCM take a holistic, or whole-body approach to health. According to these theories, Qi is the vital energy that animates the body and protects it from illness. It flows through pathways called meridians, providing nourishment for every cell, tissue, muscle and organ. When there is an imbalance or blockage in the flow of Qi, physical symptoms may result.

Your practitioner will take a detailed health history and perform a physical exam to determine your body’s imbalances. He or she will create a detailed treatment plan that takes into account your unique symptoms and the effects of your arthritis.

During treatment, fine, sterile needles will be inserted at specific acupoints along the meridians in order to remove any obstruction and allow Qi to flow freely.

Your practitioner may also recommend herbal remedies, massage, and stretching. Be sure to discuss any new medications with your acupuncturist and personal care provider to avoid any potential interactions.

By working closely with your acupuncturist and other care providers, you will be taking charge of your arthritis and taking steps toward a healthier life.

What can you do
There is no “quick fix” for arthritis and it may take time to achieve results. However, there are life-style changes you can make that may help you find relief faster.

1) Exercise can help increase your flexibility, strengthen muscles and bones, and maintain a healthy weight
2) Stick to a healthy diet made up of a variety of unprocessed, organic foods. Your acupuncturist may also suggest adding natural anti-inflammatories to your diet.
3) De-stress. By learning to identify your stressors and lowering your stress through techniques such as breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, Tai Chi or Qi Gong, you can improve your state of mind and reduce overall stress.
4) Try alternating heat and cold for pain relief. Heat treatments, such as warm baths or heat pads, soothe stiff joints and tired muscles. Cold treatments, such as ice packs, are best for acute pain as the numb painful areas and decrease inflammation.
5) Maintain balance in your life. Alternating periods of rest and relaxation with periods of activity and exercise will keep you feeling your best.

Berman BM, Lao L, Langenberg P, Lee WL, Gilpin AMK, Hochberg MC. Effectiveness of Acupuncture as Adjunctive Therapy in Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Randomized, Controlled Trial, Annals of Internal Medicine. 2004; 141 (12): 901-910
What is Osteoarthritis? National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. September 2006.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis? National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skim Diseases. May 2005.
Joswick, Diane L.Ac. Acupunctur for Arthritis. 2006.
Osteoarthritis fact sheet. Arthritis Foundation. 2005

2012 Acupuncture Media Works -

Harbour City Healers
Registered Acupuncture
Sheena Villeneuve R.Ac. : 250-667-8242