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The Arthritis Obstruction Patterns: Differentiation of Syndrome is the Key to Relief

November 24, 2009 by  

The Arthritis Obstruction Patterns: Differentiation of Syndrome is the Key to Relief

Did you know that arthritis is believed to be the oldest discovered ailment? Scientists have found this disease in the joints of some dinosaurs and even mummies!

It’s no wonder that the Arthritis Foundation estimates that some 59 million Americans will have arthritis by the year 2020. That’s nearly 20 percent of the population!

As a term, arthritis means “joint inflammation.” While there are many forms of arthritis, the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis, the most common form, is a degenerative condition that is caused when the joint cartilage begins to break down, either from prolonged wear-and-tear, traumatic injury or infection, thus leading to a bony enlargement.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease of the autoimmune system that causes inflammation of the synovial membrane (joint lining) and destruction and deformity of bone, cartilage, ligament and muscle tissue.

Regardless of type, common arthritic symptoms include pain in the joints, redness and swelling of the joints and loss of joint function. The pain of osteoarthritis gradually worsens with use over the course of the day, whereas the pain of rheumatoid arthritis tends to be worse on waking and improves as the day progresses.

Ancient Approach to Ancient Disease
Mainstream medicine has no cure for arthritis. In fact, physicians have no real way of knowing if someone is getting arthritis until its symptoms begin. At that point, doctors advise rest, exercise and a two-pronged drug therapy approach.

Given that arthritis is the oldest disease known to man, it only makes sense that the Chinese have been diagnosing and treating it for thousands of years. Yet doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) do not look at it as a disease. Rather, they see it as an “obstruction pattern” which can be differentiated, depending on signs and symptoms. Once the obstruction pattern is identified the pattern of imbalance can be corrected.

According to the theories of TCM, one can contract an obstruction pattern when wind, cold, dampness and/or heat enter the body and lodge in the meridian channels and network vessels. These are the energy channels of acupuncture and spaces between joints, muscles and organs. This leads to impairment of blood and body fluids which then causes such signs and symptoms as achy pain, impaired joint movement, numbness, tingling and/or heaviness of the limbs.

There are two main obstruction patterns in TCM. They are Wind-Cold-Damp and Wind-Damp-Heat. Identifying which pattern you have gives you clues to its treatment. Let’s take a look at the patterns now.

The Wind-Cold-Damp pattern is caused by wind, cold and/or dampness invading the body when immunity is low. Think of when you have been tired and worn out and suddenly caught a cold or started experiencing back pain or headaches. This is the same thing. Your immune system is low and is therefore unable to “defend” against the cold and dampness, which then congregate around the joints, thereby restricting movement and causing pain.

Wind-Cold-Damp obstruction pattern is further differentiated as Moving Obstruction, Painful Obstruction and Fixed Obstruction.

Moving (Wind) Obstruction finds the pain in the joints tends to move or wander from location—like the movement of wind. Symptoms include impaired movement of the joints that changes location and an aversion to wind. It may be accompanied by fever and chills, a tongue with yellow fur-like build-up and a rapid pulse.

Painful (Cold) Obstruction finds severe pain in one location. Symptoms include impaired movement of specific joints, pain that is worse when exposed to cold and is alleviated when exposed to warmth, thin, white fur-like build-up on the tongue and a pulse that is generally considered tight and wiry.

Fixed (Damp) Obstruction finds the pain to be fixed or in its location. Symptoms include numbness and swelling of the skin and heaviness of the limbs with worsening conditions in weather that is cool, cold or damp. The tongue will have a coating that is greasy and the pulse will be moderate.

The Wind-Damp-Heat pattern is caused when wind, dampness and/or heat lodges in the body. This can easily happen when immunity is low during the long hot/humid/damp summer days.

Symptoms include hot skin, swelling and red color of painful areas that increases with contact. Since it is a heat condition, there is often dehydration causing dry mouth, dark concentrated urine, constipation, a tongue with greasy, yellow fur-like build-up and a rapid pulse.

How to Prevent and Alleviate Arthritis

Since TCM differentiates between the syndromes of obstruction, it does not treat each pattern of arthritis in the same way. Various acupuncture points would be needled and herbal medicines would be used to do any number of the following: eliminate wind and/or dampness, dissipate cold, warm the channels, free the network vessels, resolve heat toxin and stop pain.

If you live in an area where there are acupuncturists or Chinese herbalists, I recommend consulting them for treatment. Additionally, there are five simple things that you can do yourself to help prevent or alleviate the symptoms of arthritis:

  1. Be mindful of wear-and-tear on the joints through repetitive stresses or strained activities, such as running, lifting, machine work, dancing, martial arts, etc. Try to take a break or change position (or activity) often to decrease chances of breakdown. Be sure to warm up the muscles and joints properly before engaging in such activities.
  1. Inactivity can also lead to joint problems, since lack of exercise or movement in general can weaken the joint-supporting musculature and decrease mobility. A joint, like a muscle, that is not used enough will atrophy, becoming weak, stiff, dysfunctional and prone to injury. So get up and move around, clean the house or exercise as often as possible. Movement is the key here.
  1. Studies have shown that obese individuals are at risk for developing arthritis because of the constant load placed on the joints, especially the knees and hips. Changing your diet and exercise habits will help prevent this from happening!
  1. If you have Wind-Cold-Damp obstruction pattern “arthritis,” you can wear gloves and dress warmly in winter, avoid cold beverages, eat warm food and beverages and use heat as therapy on painful days.
  1. If you have Wind-Damp-Heat obstruction pattern “arthritis,” you can refrain from too many spicy foods and diuretic beverages such as coffee, tea, alcohol and those high in sugar. On painful days you can use ice as therapy.

In another article I will share with you the results of a study on arthritis and a certain drink. Until then, if you are suffering, please see which of the above “obstruction patterns” you most closely fall into and then incorporate the above-mentioned tips as appropriate.

Yours in self-directed wellness,

—Dr. Mark Wiley

Jeffrey R. Matthews

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  • DaveH
    • Fed Up Gal in NM

      Dave H,

      Thank you! On a brief review…the link/article seems a very interesting read. I used to work in a medical field (radiology and ultrasonography). I recall occasional thermography discussions being raised in training sessions, but it really wasn’t promoted much at all (10-15 years ago). I personally would much prefer a thermogram to a mammogram, so I will study the article in more detail and discuss with my physician next visit. It also seems to allude to possibly replacing (or at least complimenting) other procedures. Thanks for putting the info out here.

      Fed Up Gal

  • ALBERTO WEISSFISCH

    I WILL WISH MORE DIRECT GUIDE TO ALLIVIATE THE PAIN ; PLEASE!!!
    RESPECTFULLY
    ALBERTO WEISSFISCH

    • Dr. Mark Wiley

      Please try to incorporate the advise from the article, as it will help you. And in future pieces I will address the various aspects of arthritis more specifically.

  • Glen Larsen

    Apple Cider vinegar (an old wives tale) works for me and several others to whom I have offered this solution. We take a tablespoon full in juice each day. Apple juice seems to be the least distastfull of all we have tried. I’ve also heard that it works well with honey.

  • Dr. Mark Wiley

    Great suggestion, Glen! Apple cider vinegar works because it helps balance the pH. And a too-acid pH creates an environment ripe for rheumatoid arthritis to flare up.

    • Fed Up Gal in NM

      Dr Wiley / Glenn,

      I’ve had intermittent acid reflux (GERD) for 4 or 5 years now. My physician prescribed the typical AR meds (including the purple pill among others) and I took various ones on and off for 2-3 years. My physician pretty much persisted with “no worries about your liver”, but the research I had done still concerned me about longterm use and it’s affect on the liver.

      Then a friend turned me on too Aloe Vera Juice, which has worked very well for about a year. For some reason…recently the AVJ hasn’t seemed to work as well (changed brands recently too…maybe that was the problem).

      Long story (short…sort of)…I was reading some of the other posts on here about the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar and have been trying that for about 2.5 days. I noticed slight to moderate improvement the first day, then last night noticed considerable improvement…and today….I’ve had no AR annoyances….fingers crossed…LoL. I’m taking about 1 TBSP two or three times a day (only once so far today and I’ll take a dose before bed tonight).

      I’m thinking I’ll purchase one of the over the counter kits for testing for alkaline levels and just monitor for now. I’m hoping the ACV approach continues to provide relief, but I’m also realistic and don’t mind trying something else if this isn’t a ‘magic bullet’…so to speak.

      Dr Wiley…thank you for providing your articles; Glenn…thank you for your feedback on the ACV approach you’re using.

      Fed Up Gal

  • Bruce

    You all may wish to look into getting a gallon of H2 O2 FOOD GRADE 35%,
    Then start a program of adding a few drops to a glass of water 3 times per day. Within a few weeks you will be fine, as in “ZERO” pain of effects.
    Or you may wish to use Hemp oil, as this also fix’s the problem too.

    Look in to it. You will not be dissappointed.

  • Barbara Raugh

    Dr. Wiley, Thank you for sharing your insights concerning arthritis pain. I will certainly give these ideas of yours a good try. My symptoms have increased dramatically this past year since I have had to face much stress and the pain in my wrists and hands are very painful.

  • Paul

    Doc . . . isn’t Apple Cider Vinegar acidic ?

    • Dr. Mark Wiley

      Yes, of course it contains both acetic and citric acids. However, it has been shown to help pain, weight loss, osteoporosis, sore throat and sinus issues among others. There is not clear answer as to why it helps these, but it does. One theory is that the high acid pH of the body is caused by lack of acid, thus the vinegar supplies that and reduces the excess produced by the body. I would think this is much like acid reflux being caused by lack of acid, not an excess of it… more research certainly needs to be carried out. If you see something, please let us know!

  • s c

    There is one main rule-of-thumb in health care. That is, if something works, use it. If it doesn’t work, avoid it.
    Experiment if you must. If conventional therapy doesn’t work, you’re looking in the wrong place. It takes more than inititals behind someone’s last name to make them a worthy, proven member of the health care profession.
    The unconscionable behavior of the AMA and the FDA have proven that point for many years. Find that which works. Read, learn and share information. Take an active part in your own health.

    • alan c.

      arthritis sufferers ever hear of MSM methylsufonylmethane ? I take 7 or 8000mg a day W/3000mg of glucosamine . No more knee , finger or hand pain! This is an natural antiinflamatory no stomach issues no other pain killers being used .Im 72 & play golf twice a week.This has been my regimine for 6 years. Happily active virtually pain free.

  • Kay

    I heard that the night shades foods cause the arthritis. Is there any truth to this? The night shades would be white potatoes, tomatoes, red pepper, etc.

    • Dr. Mark Wiley

      Night shades contribute to inflammation in the body. If you have pain or inflammation, it is best to avoid night shades… Next week’s article is on food for pain :)

  • Annie Ladysmith

    This is not true and is seriously deceptive on many fronts. i will address the main one which is Lymes disease. Borrelia is a worldwide epidemic and causes atrocious dysfunction in its victim’s lives. One of the typical symptoms is JOINT PAIN and dysfunction. All joints can be affected including the vertebrae.
    You can do all the SILLY ‘Chinese’ medicine you want but if you have Lymes you will continue to waste away without the NECESSARY treatment. As a doctor you should be informed regarding the seriousness of this disease and you obviously DON”T HAVE A CLUE!

    • Fed Up Gal in NM

      Annie Ladysmith,

      It sounds like you are quite passionate about health and wellness issues. I respectfully disagree with your comment about Dr Wiley’s article being deceptive. I did not get the impression that Dr Wiley was trying to turn us all completely away from traditional medicine, and I don’t believe it is deceptive for him (or any physician) to provide various avenues of treatment for people suffering with arthritis or with any other chronic and often debilitating health issue, disease, etc.

      My mother has bravely endured the effects of arthritis for years, and she has received only traditional western medical treatment….which has had negligible benefits…if any. She is quite traditional and a reserved 73 year old, but I have no doubt she will be willing to try alternative treatment….with of course due diligence in her (and my) research.

      I share this with you because I worked in a [traditional] medical field for 23 years, so I’m pretty level headed about doing the research. I just think we need to be careful that we don’t discourage people from at least researching other options. I’m not in any way suggesting traditional medicine be considered ‘taboo’, but it’s simply makes no sense to discredit an alternative ‘option’ that has resulted in improved health to some (likely many). There are situations where traditional western medicine and alternative medicine or treatment works very well together. Just my thought.

      Fed Up Gal

    • DaveH

      Annie,
      You could have provided your point of view without resorting to ridicule. American doctors have annoyed me for many years with their arrogant attitudes that their solutions are the only solutions.

      • s c

        DaveH, as long as Big Pharma can force MDs to use ridicule and arrogance as paradigms in doctor-patient relationships, fund research, ghost-write studies, manipulate Congress and drug prices, control what is taught in medical school classes, put obscene profits before the health of the American people, make presidents dance like stoned monkeys, control health care options, and use fear as part of therapy, real science [aka the red-headed step brat of American health care] won’t
        be allowed to be an integral part of American health care.
        And, comrade obama’s ‘health’ plan will guarantee that America is cursed with cradle-to-grave
        illness (sick people insure a steady cash flow. healthy people are ‘bad’ for profits).

        • Joe H.

          s c,
          I have tried vinegar, inversion therapy, nerve blocks, cortisone shots and T.E.N.S. unit without any help. I have carpal tunnel, arthritis, stenosis w/ 4 pins and screws in my back a partial laminectomy in my upper back and right now take hydrocodone and ultram 3 times a day and occaisonal muscle relaxers as well. I also take a zolpidem at night to sleep!!!

          • Joe H.

            How about a response Doc.

          • Dr. Mark Wiley

            Dear Joe,
            Your situation sounds quite complicated. I am sorry that you are in so much pain and that thus far what you are trying has not yet proven effective enough for you to live the life you deserve.

            Pain is a complicated symptom. If the root cause of the pain is not “corrected” the pain will always continue, even with cortisone and inversion, etc. However, if the pain source is derived from surgery, pins, spinal fusion or some other unnatural element, then the best one can hope for is symptomatic relief. In such a case, the least toxic and most natural approach should be sought after. And the approach may not be simple, but manifold, including: diet, inversion, acupunture, bodywork, exercise, mind/body techniques or other therapies.

            I am sorry that I cannot answer specifically to your situation, Joe, but the articles I will write will address the many natural ways of relieving pain and achieving optimal health. If you put them to use, and do so every day, then you will find the correct “mix” of things to help your multi-faceted pain situation.

          • Joe H.

            Doc,
            No offense meant, but that response is very much like what I get from “conventional” Dr.s. Just try this and this and sooner or later we will find a way to control your pain. meanwhile they empty my wallet!!! I have the least costly “treatment” now and I ‘get by” day by day! At least I have insurance and good insurance and it is the Dr.s taking my money and not the government!!!!

    • Dr. Mark Wiley

      Dear Annie,
      Thank you for sharing your frustrations with us. The article was focused on rheumatoid and osteo arthritis. Lyme disease is very complicated. In fact, although Traditional Chinese medicine has protocols for treating Lyme disease, I have not personally found them to be effective enough. Thankfully, my background is not limited to this perspective and I will try to address this disease in a future article. Thank you again for sharing.

  • http://www.boblivingstonletter.com/ Bob Livingston

    Dear Annie Ladysmith:
    Dr. Wiley’s article was addressing alternative treatment options for arthritis pain. He was providing our readers with options to consider. The more information a person has, the better decision he or she is able to make when it comes to selecting a treatment. Each individual must choose the best option for himself or herself.
    Best Wishes,
    Bob

  • The Insurgent

    I live in Asia and I know – or: aware of – the healing methods they use for arthritis. In fcat, my wife has on both of her joints at the arms. She used some lavender leafs tied around her joints soaked with sugar-water. Sugar known as a outside healing power, instead of taking it internally in Asia. After wearing those ties around her joints for 2-3 days (and nights) her pain not just decreased and went away but did not return.

  • lore westphal

    google for ‘MMS’…
    heals almost ALL disease the natural way …!!!!…
    get well…
    Lore

  • marge

    About the economic straights we are in—I blame OBama, the Democrats, and Bush and the Republican. Not Clinton, because he got the debt down that Reagan left him. Obama and the Dems. seem to want to vote on weekends. Why do these votes have to be so rushed???
    Each week it seems to get worse–gets us more in debt. I have one piece of advise—DON’T SPEND ANYMORE and forget about global warming for a while. Congress needs to REMEMBER — THEY WORK FOR US, WE DON’T WORK FOR THEM!!

    • Joe H.

      The answer to your question about the weekend votes and the rush is simple. What they don’t have time to read they can’t disagree with!!!

  • http://þÿ Jenette Sarni

    You really make it seem really easy together with your presentation however I find this matter to be really something which I believe I would by no means understand. It kind of feels too complex and very extensive for me. I’m taking a look forward to your subsequent submit, I will try to get the cling of it!

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