Osteoarthritis is no joke as it can adversely affect the quality of life and mobility of its victims. There are a lot of anti-inflammatory drugs in the market that are designed to treat this disease but, sad to say, most, if not all of them, come with toxins that have adverse side effects to the patient. These toxins and side effects force sufferers to seek alternative types of therapy such as acupuncture and acupressure in resolving osteoarthritis.
Traditional bodyworks have shown a rise in popularity among osteoarthritis sufferers since they are proven effective treatment for their condition and also are free of side effects. Acupuncture is indeed a very good and ideal therapy that a huge number of people are now using it to manage the chronic pain brought about by this incapacitating disease.
Firstly, we need to know what osteoarthritis is and what kind of benefits does acupuncture offer to help one manage his/her condition.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative arthritis. It is a health issue basically marked by the structural or functional failure of the joints. It usually affects one entire joint as well as the surrounding underlying joint, joint cover, joint lining, muscles and ligaments. Occasionally, osteoarthritis may involve the gradual loss of cartilage integrity in the body.
Osteoarthritis usually develops because of cartilage wear and tear or degeneration although it can also come about due to disease, injury and heredity. The cartilage is a body part made out of a protein substance that functions as a ‘shock absorber’ between two adjacent bones.
There are two categories of osteoarthritis: primary and secondary osteoarthritis. With primary osteoarthritis, the joint problem emanates from the aging of the joints. The progress of time leads to cartilage loss that causes the adjacent bones to painfully hit each other causing mobility problems and pain. A lot of primary osteoarthritis cases are hereditary.
Secondary osteoarthritis, on the other hand, is typically triggered by other diseases or conditions such as hormone disorder, obesity, gout and diabetes. Obesity does help exacerbate the stress between the joints that can negatively impact the cartilage. Based on clinical studies, obesity is the second most significant risk factor for degenerative arthritis. The number one risk factor for arthritis is still the aging process.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis may differ from person to person although the difficulty in joint movement, stiffness of the joint and pain are commonly shared by all osteoarthritis patients. A lot of the treatments for this condition are designed to help alleviate the inflammation and joint pain. These therapies are also aimed at improving and maintaining joint functions.
The Benefits of Acupuncture- How It’s Done
For over 5,000 years, acupuncture has been the mode of treatment by the Chinese to treat dozens of illness due to it myriad painkilling and healing attributes. However, significant studies have only been done during the last 50 years. Due to the rising popularity of traditional medicines such as acupuncture and acupressure, a lot of western physicians now are curious and interested in understanding the mechanisms of how acupuncture works and how it is able to treat pain in patients suffering from osteoarthritis.
Based on theory of TCM or traditional Chinese medicine, sicknesses are basically due to an imbalance or obstruction in the circulation of vital energy (called chi) in the body. With the use of acupuncture, obstructions and imbalances can be rectified with the utilization of very thin and special acupuncture needles.
Acupuncturists believe that the body possesses 12 primary meridians, 8 secondary meridians and more than a couple thousand acupuncture points that when stimulated can produce certain health benefits to various organs of the body. Acupuncture is a very good type of bodywork that uses needles inserted superficially into the skin and “tweaking” them to generate electrical impulses.
Studies Involving Acupuncture and Pain Management
Over the course of time, a lot of studies have been conducted to understand the effectiveness of acupuncture for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Based on research, acupuncture aids in the stimulation of the nervous system to produce endorphins in the body. Endorphins are chemicals that act as natural pain killers for the body. They are considered the body’s own “feel good” chemicals since they help relieve pain and make the patient feel calm and relaxed. This helps to counteract the pain caused by osteoarthritis and provide pain relief to the osteoarthritis patient.
The bulk of acupuncture points are situated near the nerves. When a needle is inserted into an acupuncture point, the needle stimulates the nerve creating a sensation of dull aches in the muscles and fullness. The stimulation of the nerves triggers the conveyance of signals to the central nervous system (the brain and the spinal cord) that help create and release endorphins. The endorphins are the hormones that the body releases during pain or stressful moments. Along with other neurotransmitters, these endorphins aid in cutting off the sending of pain signals to the brain. This blocks the pain and helps prevent the patient from feeling it.
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