Osteoarthritis: A talk with Dr. Ming

Xiaoming Tian, L.Ac., CMDA Talk with Dr. Ming: With his cheerful attitude with doubters and believers alike,“Dr. Ming” is the nickname many of his patients and colleagues have given Professor Xiao Ming Tian, L.Ac., CMD

This month Dr. Ming talks about…Osteoarthritis (OA)

Patients who suffer from OA may have some or all of the following symptoms: Joint pain, swelling and stiffness; Muscle pain; Nerve pain; Fatigue or weakness

All of which affect the Activities of Daily Living (ADL) such as walking, going up or down the stairs, bending, and standing. This also leads to a limited Range of Motion (ROM).

The Pathology of Osteoarthritis includes

Synovitis (line tissue inflammation)

Knee synovitis occurs when the synovial membrane which lines and lubricates the knee joint, becomes inflamed. Swelling or stiffness in the knee joint may develop following another injury or from arthritis or gout. The treatment of this knee injury depends on the underlying cause of the condition.

Degeneration of cartilage

The bones of the knees joint (the backside of the kneecap, bottom of thighbone, and top of shinbone) are coated with smooth articular cartilage. When knee osteoarthritis develops, the cartilage undergoes gradual changes – losing elasticity, hardening, and cracking, becoming more easily damaged and eroded by use or injury.

Bone remodeling or deformation of the joint

Remodeling normally occurs during bone growth, in response to physico-chemical factors such as stresses from exercise, during repair of injuries such as fractures, and during hormonal changes. Remodeling includes the sensing of environmental changes, the formation of new bone, and the removal of existing bone (“resorption”).

How acupuncture works to help OA:

It helps to reduce inflammation treating synovitis and joint effusion, it also helps improve blood circulation, to reduce pain in general and specifically at the location, and helps the function of the joint better.

The Expectation of Acupuncture with OA:

More than 85% of patients with OA will have improvement within 3 to 15 acupuncture treatments with few side effects or symptoms except occasionally slight bleeding or bruising.

Dr. Brian Berman, at the Maryland University Medical School is the principal investigator for an NIH, NCCAM-funded study on acupuncture for OA of the knee and treated over 500 OA patients.  The trial is the largest, longest, and most rigorous study of acupuncture to date. It demonstrated that acupuncture significantly reduces pain and improves function in people with knee OA and showed acupuncture to be an effective complement to standard care.

Dr. Berman and colleagues concluded that traditional Chinese acupuncture is safe, well tolerated, and effective as a complement to standard therapy in reducing pain and improving physical function in patients with symptomatic knee OA that causes moderate or greater pain. The clinical implication is that acupuncture may play an important role as an adjunct therapy in an integrated approach to OA.  Dr. Berman discussed potential biological mechanisms that could account for the effects of acupuncture on OA, including the possible role of neurochemicals.

In Dr. Ming’s opinion, acupuncture treatment helps not only the for pain but can treat other symptoms of OA and even improve joint condition and function.

Please call Dr. Ming at (301)530-5308 if you have any questions.