In the United States alone, tens of millions of people (27 million people, in fact) suffer from the debilitating condition of osteoarthritis. This disease typically strikes people in their middle ages. Osteoarthritis is the gradual progressive breaking down of the joints. It is a painful condition to suffer from.
All of us have a membranous layer called the cartilage that is positioned between the joints. During our youth, the cartilage helps smooth our movement by serving as an emolliating membrane between the joints. It prevents the joints from grinding and rubbing against each other when we move our body.
The problem arises as we get older as the cartilage starts to suffer fro m wear and tear. It gradually erodes to the point that it is no longer able to protect the bones from rubbing and grinding against each other. As a result, when we move, pain can be experienced. The soreness can be accompanied by swelling (due to inflammation) in certain cases.
Osteoarthritis can be caused by several factors. It may be due to overuse (wear and tear), injury, old age, or heredity. Even people in their 20s or 30s have a modest chance of developing this disease.
A person suffering from osteoarthritis needs to look for treatment immediately because of two important reasons: To prevent the cartilage from further damage (first reason), and to relieve the swelling, soreness and pain that come with the osteoarthritis (second reason).
If there is inflammation from the condition, it is important to address the inflammation. A lot of western doctors use steroid medications to treat this condition. The problem with the use of these drugs is that they come with nasty side effects. Recent research works have demonstrated that repeated use of these drugs can itself bring about osteoarthritis, which even worsens the condition. So, these days, doctors are now looking into newer ways to treat osteoarthritis without the need to use steroid-based medications.
One new way of treating osteoarthritis is with acupuncture combined with NSAIMs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines. A controlled study has revealed that 70% of the subjects got relief of pain right after being given acupuncture.
Acupuncture involves the use of very slender needles that enervate energy channels known as meridians in the body. Energy or chi travels through these meridians and when chi travels unobstructed, throughout the body, the body experiences good health. The primary aim of acupuncture therapy is to stimulate the affected meridians in order to clear out these channels from obstructions to enable chi to flow in the body smoothly.
The meridians and acupuncture points are considered parts of the central nervous system according to Western medicine. When they are stimulated, hormones and neurotransmitters are released, enabling the body to self-heal.
In the treatment of osteoarthritis, acupuncturists never use steroid based drugs. They obviously will use acupuncture which brings instant pain relief for the patient, and enables the diseased joints to heal naturally and gradually.