Arthritis is known is ‘Painful Obstruction Syndrome’ in Chinese medicine and is something that acupuncturists and herbalists commonly treat.
There are several types of arthritis within Chinese medicine and they are classified according to their symptoms.
Joint pain which moves from one joint to the next is known as ‘Wandering Bi Syndrome’ or ‘Wind Bi Syndrome’ . ‘Bi’ refers to pain in Chinese. Wind in this context refers to the nature of Wind to move around and to appear and disappear suddenly.
Joints which are visibly swollen are referred to as ‘Damp Bi Syndrome’. With this type of Painful Obstruction Syndrome (arthritis), several joints maybe affected but is does not wander from joint to joint. ‘Damp’ refers to over-retention of fluid. The fluid which lubricates and nourishes joints is called ‘synovial fluid’ and is necessary for the proper functioning of the joints. Problems arise when this fluid becomes excessive and so prevents the joint from moving properly and pain results as everything gets stuck.
Joints which are cold to touch and frequently swollen too are referred to as ‘Cold Bi Syndrome’. I saw a classic case of Cold Bi type arthritis in York where I studied acupuncture. He was a patient at the clinic and he had been a roofer for 27 years, working outside in cold and windy conditions without wearing protective gloves. His knuckles were very cold and swollen but the rest of his body was warm. Cold had lodged in his knuckles, obstructing the movement of fluids and energy and caused pain.
Lastly, ‘Hot Bi Syndrome’. This type of arthritis is commonly seen with Rheumatoid Arthritis when the joints are notably hot & swollen and very painful.
While the above classifications are straightforward, in clinical practice it combinations of these are often seen.
Having this different view of arthritis is what we believe makes it respond well to treatment. It is seems clears that someone who’s joints are hot and swollen should receive a very different treatment to someone who’s joints are just as painful but neither hot nor swollen..
With successful treatment we enable people to continue their daily lives as they wish. Arthritis responds well to both acupuncture and herbal medicine.