In Traditional Chinese Medicine, arthritis falls in the category of “Painful Obstruction Syndrome” (POS).

The main symptoms are pain, numbness and/or swelling of the joints, stiffness, and fatigue. In Chinese medicine, there are five different kinds of POS. Wind type is characterized by pain moving from joint to joint. Damp type is fixed pain with feeling of heaviness, numbness and swelling of the joints and aggravated by damp and rainy weather. Cold type is severe pain in one joint aggravated by cold weather. Heat type is also very severe pain but with sensation of heat, redness and swelling of the joint. The last one is Bony type where painful joints are swollen and there is already some deformity of the extremity involved.

Factors that will precipitate or aggravate the development of POS are repetitive motions like computer work or doing car repairs, excessive jogging that puts a strain to the spine, accidents or tramatic injuries, being over weight, aging, genetics, and living in a damp/cold environment. Emotional problems can also lead to the development of POS.

Another important factor in the development of POS among the elderly is the underlying deficiency of Blood or Yin (body fluids), which then leads to the malnourishment or dryness of the channels affecting tendons, bones and joints making mobility more difficult especially in the morning.

A practitioner’s treatment strategy focuses on the root of the arthritis pain. i.e., warm the cold, dry the dampness, strenthen the deficiency, etc. Acupuncture, herbs, diet modifications, life style changes, physical exercise, meditation and Qigong exercises can effectively treat POS. There is no “quick fix” for any kind of arthritis but it is possible to minimize its devastating effect and is indeed possible to have a pain-free life.