To Your Health
November, 2007 (Vol. 01, Issue 11)
Other drugless methods for managing arthritis include:
- heat or cold, applied directly to the sore joint;
- weight reduction (reduces stress on weight-bearing joints);
- joint protection (splints or braces);
- stretching; and
- various forms of low-impact exercise.
Acupuncture is well-known in China for its effectiveness in treating arthritis. Practitioners use hair-thin, stainless-steel needles inserted in specific places on the body to accelerate the body's ability to heal joints. A 2002 study performed in England measured several parameters of knee osteoarthritis, including time to walk 50 meters, time to climb 20 steps and the overall level of pain when treated with acupuncture as compared to having no treatment. Patients who received acupuncture treatments over an eight-week period improved in all of the parameters measured, compared with those with no treatment, who deteriorated in all categories. Additionally, a well-designed study performed by the University of Maryland concluded that acupuncture was 88 percent effective at improving knee osteoarthritis, as measured by analgesic consumption, range of motion and a number of other parameters.
Arthritis in any form can be a debilitating condition that prevents you from living the life you want. Rather than immediately accepting the dangerous side effects of drugs and risky surgeries, talk to your doctor about natural alternatives to keep your muscles and joints in optimal condition.
is three times more common in women than men, begins between the ages of 20 and 60, with peak activity between the ages of 35 and 45, and is considered an autoimmune disorder. The most common symptoms are small-joint discomfort, warmth, swelling and redness, limited range of motion, distortion and morning stiffness. RA is bilateral, meaning both left and right sides of the body are affected, and typically gets worse over time.
affects the larger weight-bearing joints asymmetrically. Symptoms include local tenderness, joint cracking/grinding and dysfunction, and pain increasing with activity. Fifty percent of people over 50 years old suffer from OA. Osteophytes, or bone spurs, occur in the late stages of OA. Approximately 21 million Americans suffer from arthritis, accounting for one-quarter of all visits to primary care physicians and half of all nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) prescriptions.
or "gout" is the formation of uric acid crystals in the small joints of the feet and hands. Ninety percent of gout sufferers are overweight men who indulge in rich foods and alcohol. Classic symptoms of gout include excruciating joint pain, swelling, redness, warmness and stiffness. The uric acid crystals in the joint can cause intense pain whenever the affected area is moved, and the inflamed tissues surrounding the joint can cause the skin to be swollen, tender and sore.
Bill Reddy was an aerospace engineer before becoming a licensed acupuncturist with practices in Annandale and Alexandria, Va. He is a board member of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.