Arthritis & Osteoarthritis

Chinese Medicine Broward County, Fl

Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common chronic inflammatory joint disease.

It can usually be diagnosed by the presence of antibodies (called rheumatoid factor) in the blood. Since it is blood-related rather than the result of wear and tear, rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that affects the whole body, often resulting in symptoms such as fever, weight loss, fatigue and a general decline in health. The joints (commonly the wrists, elbows, ankles, knees, hips, and hand and foot joints) become swollen and inflamed and are usually affected symmetrically. Neck pain and stiffness result from spinal inflammation. Tints can eventually become deformed due to a buildup of fluid that impairs the healing process in the joint tissue. Pain and stiffness is usually worst in the morning and may wear off during the day.

Signs and Symptoms

• Pain and swelling in the smaller joints of your hands and feet
• Overall aching or stiffness, especially after sleeping or periods of motionlessness
• Affected joints are swollen, painful, and warm to the touch during the initial attack and ensuing flare-ups


It is probably an autoimmune disease in which your body’s immune system attacks itself. Researchers suspect that an unidentified virus stimulates the immune system, but the disease-fighting cells inflame the joints.
Unlike osteoarthritis, which affects only the musculoskeletal system, rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease that, in some patients, affects such organs as the heart, lungs, and eyes. It also tends to affect more than one joint at a time, resulting in an overall stiffness and aching. It is generally symmetric in its assaults, affecting both feet or both hands.


The principal area of attack of rheumatoid arthritis is the synovium, the membrane that lines your joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes this smooth membrane to become inflamed. Researchers have discovered that the disease-fighting cells of the immune system are especially active in the synovial tissues of patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Accompanying the inflammation of the synovium are other changes in your joints.
Tissue in the cartilage tends to proliferate, which also produces an erosion of surrounding tissues, including ligaments, mus-cles, and bones. In addition to contributing to the discomforts of rheumatoid arthritis, these changes also produce a looseness in your joints.


Osteoarthritis is a wear-and-tear disorder that usually starts after age 50. It is characterized by cartilage degeneration in weight-bearing joints, such as the hips, knees and spine, as well as joints in the hand. As the cartilage degenerates, new bone, cartilage and connective tissues are formed, which remodel the joint, leading to wasted muscle around the joint and limited movement. Inflammation is secondary to the degeneration of cartilage. Pain is usually provoked by movement and disappears with rest, so it typically gets worse as the day progresses. Because osteoarthritis pain is caused by placing weight on the joints, in overweight people, it improves with weight loss. It is often related to a mineral imbalance in the diet and/or a defect that limits the body’s ability to absorb minerals.


Here’s what occurs in the joint of a person with osteoarthritis. The cartilage that cushions the impact on the joint gradually deteri-orates. Its smooth surface roughens, and it loses its cushioning effect. Over time, the ends of the bones also are affected, as bone grows along the sides of the bone to produce Jumps. Each of the steps in this process produces pain.
Osteoarthritis commonly occurs in your neck or back. The usual progression involves the development of bone spurs on the sides of a damaged vertebra, as seen on X-rays of the bone.


Signs and Symptoms

• Pain in a joint during or after use
• Discomfort in a joint before or during a change in the weather
• Swelling and a loss of flexibility in a joint
• Bony lumps on the end joint of the finger (called Heberden’s nodes) may develop.
• Similar lumps on the middle joint of the finger (called Bouchard’s nodes) also may develop.



The presence of pain in either one or a few joints is a key to the diagnosis of osteoarthri-tis; the sheer prevalence of the disorder is another. Bone spurs (called osteophytes) may be evident in an X-ray of the affected joint, indicating the presence of osteoarthri-tis. Blood tests can exclude rheumatoid or other forms of arthritis.

Arthritis sufferers often have poor circulation (signified by constantly cold hands and feet), don’t perspire, get constipated easilv and are overweight. These factors contribute to the retention of waste products and must be addressed first by using some of the herbs listed below. Visit a medical herbalist or other natural-health practitioner for additional advice for your individual situation.


How to help yourself


• Fresh fruits and vegetables
• Fluid intake (drink at least eight large glasses of water, juice and/or herbal tea daily) to dilute and wash out toxins
• Oily fish (salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, trout, cod, mackerel), which are anti-inflammatory
• Herbs that support the digestive system (lemon balm, peppermint, chamomile) to improve nutrient absorption
• Herbal analgesics (German chamomile, meadowsweet) for pain relief
• Anti-inflammatory herbs
(German chamomile, ginger, licorice, meadowsweet) to reduce pain and joint deterioration
• Herbal diuretics (dandelion leaf) and lymphatics (red clover flower) to encourage the elimination of waste products
• Herbs that support the liver (dandelion root, licorice*) to help eliminate toxins
• Herbal circulatory stimulants (ginger, stinging nettle) to improve blood supply to the affected joints


• Refined foods
• Tea, coffee and soft drinks
• Salt and salty foods
• Acidic fruits and vegetables (rhubarb, cranberries, plums, spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens)


• Junk food
• Food allergies and intolerances.
• Meat, especially red meat (beef, pork, lamb) and processed meat products (ham, hamburgers, sausages, cold cuts), which can stimulate inflammation
• Margarine, shortening and heat-processed oils (replace with extra virgin olive oil)
• Shellfish. When protein from shellfish is digested, toxins (urea, uric acid, purines) in it are deposited in the fat and at the ends of the long bones (joints), where they lead to slow, chronic inflammation.Toxins created when shellfish are digested seem to cause more problems than other proteins
• Processed and refined foods
• Sugar and artificial sweeteners
• Citrus fruits, which often cause allergic reactions in people with rheumatoid arthritis
• Vinegar and vinegared foods (pickles), which leach minerals from the body (except apple cider vinegar and brown rice vinegar)
• Alcohol
• Artificial food additives
• Food contaminants from pesticides (eat as much organically produced food as possible)


Benefits of Acupuncture for Arthritis


Evidence shows that acupuncture for arthritis can significantly ease the discomfort associated with both OA and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). According to a study by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, patients experienced a 40% decrease in pain and increased joint mobility after 3.5 months of treatment.


review of 43 RA studies showed that 1 to 3 sessions for four weeks could improve symptoms and even decrease the physical markers of the condition.

It’s important to know that acupuncture will not cure or reverse your arthritis. However, it can make your pain and symptoms more manageable daily. You should work with your primary care physician to find an appropriate balance in care.


Thanks to the anti-inflammatory effects of acupuncture for pain, you may experience these benefits:

  • Reduced inflammation in the joints
  • Decreased pain as the nerve fibers help block out pain signals
  • Better circulation and blood flow
  • Increased joint mobility
  • Relaxed muscles
  • Lower reliance on common prescriptions and opioids

You may also reap several other benefits that improve your quality of life, including:

  • Stress relief thanks to the stimulation of endorphins and oxytocin, your body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals.
  • Better sleep due to melatonin regulation.
  • Greater sense of well-being because of a release of serotonin.
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