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Joint pain can arise from many different sources. Overuse of the joints leads to pain, which is common in osteoarthritis. Various autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis can also lead to joint pain.
When it comes down to it, all joint pain is inflammation. When there’s any type of trauma, whether internal or external, the body urgently tries to repair itself. It sends a whole army of defender cells, clearing damaged and foreign particles out, as well as trying to repair the damaged tissue. Often in the case of chronic joint pain, the damage is either too great to be repaired by the body’s endogenous systems, or something has gone wrong and the body’s immune system is attacking itself.
Arthritis and joint diseases are incredibly widespread. Approximately 350 million people worldwide and around 43 million people in the United States suffer from some form of chronic joint inflammation. Nearly 2.1 million Americans suffer from rheumatoid arthritis (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
books/NBK493173/). These numbers are expected to keep rising drastically in the coming years.
Increasing age, improper diet, smoking, obesity, stress, and lack of sleep can greatly increase the likelihood that a person will experience increased inflammation and joint pain (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
books/NBK493173/). In today’s world, it’s easy to check off several things on the list of these risk factors. Our jobs are stressful, our sleep cycles are erratic, our diets are often quick, on-the-go foods, containing pro-inflammatory trans fats and sugars. Our bodies end up taking the brunt of this lifestyle.
Chronic inflammation can last from several months to several years. It becomes part of people’s day-to-day lives. The joints keep hurting and they accept it as something that will be there for the rest of their lives. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or Corticosteroids are often used to treat painful, inflamed joints. Both of those options, however, come with a host of side effects associated with repeated and long-term use.
Acupuncture and herbal medicine are great, safer alternatives to conventional medication. Studies have shown that acupuncture works to down-regulate inflammation in various conditions. Blood tests during studies suggest that after receiving acupuncture, inflammatory markers were reduced (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
pmc/articles/PMC1781596/pdf/ 12775355.pdf). In the clinic, joint pain is one of the most common conditions that we treat. A steady regiment of treatments, lasting 1-3 months, returns people to a pain-free life. Often times, this has to be combined with lifestyle modifications. When we have an underlying offending factor that keeps causing the problem, no amount of treatment will make the problem go away completely. Unlike conventional treatments, that often just mask the problem, eastern medicine gets to the root of the issue and keeps it from recurring.
If you or someone you know suffers from arthritis or any joint pain, acupuncture might be a great solution for them. We are always happy to help people get their life back!
Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health topics but does not constitute medical advice. If you have any questions related to your condition, you should contact your doctor or healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention
Research Update: Acupuncture and Sports Injuries
In a study conducted by researchers from the Physical Education Institute at Zhengzhou University, Traditional Chinese Medicine was investigated to see how it affected athletes suffering from motor impairment due to injury. Participants in the study suffered from limited range of motion in a number of joints, including the neck, upper and lower limbs. The researchers administered acupuncture and herbs, alone or in combination, to their different groups. The participants reported increased range of motion and decreased soreness after receiving treatment. Those who received herbs and acupuncture reported greater healing and relief, with a total effectiveness rate of 84.4 percent overall. This study shows the combination of acupuncture and herbs is highly effective for the treatment of physical mobility impairment caused by participating in sports.
Sports injuries occur frequently from participating in organized sports, competitions or even backyard games. These injuries can range from minor to severe and they can occur for a multitude of reasons.
Sports injuries are typically categorized as acute or chronic. An acute sports injury is usually one that involves a single blow or application of force, like being tackled. Chronic sports injuries occur when an area is overused or abused for long periods of time. This can happen with sports like tennis, weight lifting, running, etc. Sprains and strains around joints tend to be the most common types of sports related injuries.
Most people who suffer from sports related injuries implement the use of R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation) almost immediately after the injury occurs. And while all of these may be necessary in the beginning, using ice long-term is actually detrimental to the tissue because it impedes blood flow. This is where acupuncture can be very beneficial for treating sports injuries.
Many athletes, professional and amateur, are now utilizing acupuncture and some of the other modalities associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to help them heal more quickly. Acupuncture has a very successful history of treating sports related injuries and many professional teams now have licensed acupuncturists on staff. Using acupuncture to treat injuries has been around for centuries. It began with martial arts and it is still one of the primary means of healing used.
Acupuncture can help reduce swelling, decrease pain, decrease inflammation and increase blood flow to the injured area. Recent studies, like the one above, show that acupuncture is very effective at treating sprains, strains, aches, pains, swollen muscles and even shin splints. And as an added bonus, regular acupuncture treatments can improve performance and give athletes a competitive edge.
Acupuncture of sports related knee and wrist strains
Photos taken by Integral Alternative Medicine