Preventing Arthritis Flare-Ups


Healthy Living Blog

By Dr. Rachelle Tetreault, DAOM, L,Ac


Have you ever noticed how the cold weather tends to bring out more achy joints and even stiffness? Sometimes damp, rainy, and cold can cause such distress to many arthritis sufferers creating a pronounced exacerbation of discomfort throughout the body. This is defined as cold, wind-cold, or damp-cold bi syndrome. This is also known as painful obstructive syndrome which may include many various types of arthritic disorders including rheumatic, rheumatoid, osteoarthritis, and even degenerative arthritis. This syndrome also consists of some cases of fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel, sciatica, gout and both olecranon and subacromial bursitis.

In Eastern medicine, the primary root cause of arthritis, specifically, is rooted in the Liver meridian. The liver meridian governs the joints, tendons, ligaments, sinews, and even muscle. This along with pathogenic factors can exacerbate these conditions. These factors are wind, cold, dampness and in some instances heat or inflammation. Channels and collaterals in the body become obstructed. This simply affects the overall blood circulation to our joints, ligaments, and muscles. Therefore, during times of excess coldness or dampness, symptoms may flare up including localized discomfort or achiness in joints and tendons. Other major signs include soreness, pain, numbness, swollen joints, stiffness, and heaviness. Even deformity may occur in some joints when inflammation or heat is involved as in rheumatoid arthritis.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has been used for painful obstructive syndrome by helping relax smooth muscle cells and dispelling wind. Both herbal formulas and acupuncture can improve blood flow to joints and ligaments allowing optimal blood circulation and nourishment to these areas which otherwise remain stagnated with pain. Many acupoints on both the liver and gallbladder meridians of the body are utilized to help bring blood and nourishment to these areas of the body. The liver and gallbladder are luo-connecting meridians and are used to help release blocked stagnation created by obstructive pain syndrome. Both of these meridians are connected to the wood element. Between 11pm and 1am remains the most active time for both the gallbladder and liver channel. This is also the time for most rejuvenating sleep and restoration of the body as a whole. Physical signs of liver and gallbladder energy blockage may include fatigue, muscle and joint pains, irritability and many others. Emotional signs may include depression, difficulty in making decisions, frustration, irritability, and lacking in overall direction in life.

The liver is considered the organ which governs or manages our overall health where the gallbladder is seen as the decision maker. This organ allows us the courage to act. The liver is in charge of the energy of our other organs and to ensure proper blood flow throughout our body. It also plays a significant role in storing blood, proper bile secretion, and connected to all tendons, nails, and our eyes. We are able to support both our liver and gallbladder through herbs and acupuncture to ensure optimal health.

Food therapy to ensure good joints and tendons consist of choosing foods which are abundant in selenium, magnesium, manganese, and zinc. Foods such as tofu, nuts, seeds, kale, seaweed, fish, and chlorophyll all help alleviate pain secondary to arthritis and help decrease muscle spasms. Calcium, copper, iodine, boron, folic acid, vitamin B,D, E and K all aid with building healthy joints. Cartilage builders include both chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate. Omega 3’s and 6’s are converted in the body into hormone-like complex fatty acids call prostaglandins. These play a big part in smooth muscle function, inflammatory processes and overall better blood flow throughout the body. The best essential fatty acids in our diet include fish oils such as salmon, trout, mackerel, flax seeds, a variety of nuts, olive oil, and avocados. Almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, and Brazilian nuts are also high on the list of essential fatty acids to ensure good joint health and lower inflammatory markers in our body.

Eating foods high in sulfur such as fresh garlic, onions, eggs and asparagus helps increase the absorption of calcium. This in turn is essential for rebuilding bones and joints. This absorption plays a big role in repairing cartilage, tendons, and connective tissue.

With arthritis exacerbated more by cold or dampness, it is important to avoid cold foods. This would be considered raw food as well. Warm herbal teas and spices will be a better option. These include cinnamon, dried ginger, parsnip, black pepper, and nutmeg. Food choices like warm bone broths, lamb, kidney beans, shrimp, chicken, mussel all help warm coldness. Avoid exposure to damp weather, including cold and wind, as much as possible by covering up joints and body with warm attire. Heating pads are very useful to improve bloodflow to these areas.

Traditional Chinese Medicine is used to treat many musculoskeletal disorders. Certain herbal formulas help specifically to dispel cold and dampness from joints where some are geared more towards clearing heat or inflammation depending on how the patient presents. These are used successfully as tonics two to three times a year to help treat many types of musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders. They are used to ensure optimal blood circulation and to relieve pain as well. Call today for your initial assessment with treatment:772-626-6419.