Traditional Chinese Medicine For Osteoarthritis
In this article, we explore the effectiveness of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for joint pain.
Osteoarthritis is a common cause of joint pain particularly amongst the elderly. Osteoarthritis is also known as OA is commonly seen in adults aged 40 and above. Defined as a progressive and gradual debilitating condition, this ailment affects primary joints such as wrists, hands, hips, knees, and shoulders.
How does Osteoarthritis develop?
Osteoarthritis occurs due to wear and tear over a period of time. Specifically, the cartilage that serves as the cushion and shock absorber for your body’s joints begins to degenerate. As a result, the ends of your bones are exposed and start to grind against each other, generating large amounts of friction. It is the friction that causes inflammation, swollen pain and restricts your movement.
The symptoms of Osteoarthritis are:
- Pain and stiffness of affected joint
- Joint tenderness, aggravated by movement
- Swollen joints
- Crunching feeling and the cracking sound of bones
What are the risk factors for developing Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is more likely to develop under certain conditions such as below:
- Family history of arthritis
- Age especially the elderly who are more susceptible
- Previous injuries
- Obesity contributes to excessive stress on the joints
TCM perspective on Osteoarthritis
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is centered around creating harmony in your body. Be it empowering the flow of Qi or ensuring a balance of yin and yang. When the body is in harmony, it has the strength and defense necessary to repel various conditions or ailments.
In this instance, TCM practitioners view the blockage of Qi in that specific area as the main contributing factor to Osteoarthritis. Without Qi, the balance of yin and yang is disrupted, thus your joint becomes vulnerable to pathogens attack. As the blockage is associated with the bones, this condition is referred to as "Bone Bi". As an environmental blockage, Bone Bi is typically caused by the invasion of wind, cold, or dampness. When these environmental elements penetrate your bones, muscles, and joints, pain starts to develop leading to reduced mobility.
TCM treatments for Osteoarthritis
To treat osteoarthritis, TCM uses Meridian theory to determine how to eliminate the pathogenic factors. In particular, a combination of needle acupuncture, Tui Na massage, and Chinese herbal medicine for joint pain along with other lifestyle modification guidelines will be prescribed. The aim of TCM in treating osteoarthritis is to relieve pain and stiffness. Subsequently, the range of motion of the affected joint shall be restored.
Chinese herbal medicine
Based on the type of blockage diagnosed by the TCM practitioner, a combination of herbal remedies may be prescribed. Common herbs that are used are aloe vera, Boswellia, cat’s claw, eucalyptus, ginger, green tea, thunder god vine, turmeric, and willow bark. These ingredients help to introduce and supplement Calcium L-aspartate, Type II collagen, glucosamine, chondroitin, methylsulfonylmethane, and bromelain which are all critical for joint health.
Given the nature of osteoarthritis, there are several components that can be treated using Chinese herbs. These include:
- Relieving neurons and pain pathways
- Reduce regional inflammation
- Improve joint circulation
- Relaxation of joint muscles
- Collagen synthesis
The practice of acupuncture involves the skilled insertion of needles into the affected joints. Due to the precise pressure applied, blockages are reduced, thus allowing for the smooth flow of qi and blood to resume. Once blood and qi are able to flow through the joint, discomfort, inflammation and stiffness will start to subside.
Each session of acupuncture may vary depending on the length, frequency, and techniques used. Nonetheless, typical sessions last anywhere between 10 minutes to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, you can expect to receive treatment at least once or twice a week. Thankfully, some of your symptoms will be alleviated after the first treatment and thereafter you can expect gradual recovery progress.
Simply put, your joints would become stiffer and weaker without exercise. A vicious cycle then starts where you are increasingly discouraged from exercising because of weaker and stiffer joints. This is where intervention in the form of Tai Chi exercise comes in. Tai Chi is a progressive exercise that helps to improve the flow of Qi in your body while building both strength and flexibility.
Given TCM’s holistic view of our health, it is natural that modification to our lifestyle would be prescribed. Depending on the imbalanced or excess of elements identified in your body, lifestyle changes could help to tip the scales towards a favorable fashion.
What are the expectations when consulting a TCM practitioner?
Unlike western medicine, TCM views the body as an integrated whole system. An imbalance in one part of your body can lead to painful or harmful symptoms showing up in another location. This is why TCM sessions typically start with a comprehensive assessment of your health. In preliminary health assessment, your TCM practitioner may ask and check you for:
- Pain, symptoms, or conditions you are experiencing
- Nonverbal cues such as bodily sounds, voice, demeanour
- Tongue appearance
- Pulse rate
- Skin tone
- Muscle composition
Placing the signs in the context of TCM
Based on these signs and symptoms, your TCM practitioner will determine a pattern of disharmony, in particular, which part of your body has an imbalance of yin and yang elements. Subsequently, your TCM practitioner would prescribe a treatment to bring the balance back.
In this context, we can infer that the prescribed TCM treatments may differ widely from patient to patient. In western medicine, the same medications could be prescribed for a single condition. In contrast, TCM view that a single condition may be due to disharmony at different parts of the body. As such, the treatment needed to address the disharmony would be different.
Trust Tong Jum Chew For All Your TCM Needs
Tong Jum Chew is a company with over 50 years of history. Founded as a medical hall in 1965, we grew into a wholesaler and distributor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) by the 1980s. In 2004, we established our own manufacturing facility in Singapore to manufacture TCM under our proprietary brand Nature's Green. We boast a modern manufacturing facility in Singapore that includes a clean room environment. All products are produced using modern machinery and undergo stringent checks to ensure that they are safe for consumption and usage. Since 2009, we have been opening our own retail outlets across Singapore. We supply various supplements for the treatment of all types of health problems and it is our hope to make the world of Traditional Chinese Medicine accessible to everyone. Regardless of the nature of your problem, you can be sure that we have just the thing for you.