I am very pleased with the help I have received from Dr. Luo in dealing with herniated discs of the lower back, spinal and neuroforaminal stenosis and arthritis. After several treatments, I am able to move again! I have been able to begin a water exercise program and am finding that I have more strength and energy. The pain is almost gone. Dr. Luo is very thorough and attentive. His years of experience were very evident in dealing with my specific pain. I am so thankful to have found him before I made the decision of surgery and disc fusions.
Treatment of Rheumatism with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the main causes for rheumatism are pathogenic wind, pathogenic cold, pathogenic dampness, and pathogenic heat. The main symptoms for rheumatism include progressive and recurrent feelings of pain, soreness, numbness, heaviness, and limited mobility of the body. Presently, modern medicine defines rheumatism as a broad class of diseases in the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, fascia, and bursa where pain is the main symptom. It is evident that the views of Traditional Chinese Medicine and modern medicine share common concepts of this disease in terms of pathology and symptoms. Due to its broad scope, the list of conditions referred to by rheumatism is extensive; they include but are not limit to the following:
Rheumatoid arthritis that consists of small migratory joint pain in the fingers, writs, toes, and ankles.
Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) that consists of muscle pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulder, and the pelvic girdle.
Lumbar disc disease and chronic lumbar muscle strain that result in low back pain.
Sciatica and piriformis syndrome that consist of pain in the waist, hips, and thighs.
Proliferative knee disease that consist of pain and restricted movement in the knee.
Traditional Chinese Medicine's knowledge for rheumatism can be traced back to the classic treatise “The Yellow Emperor”. The ideas in this book propose that rheumatism is caused by elements listed above attacking the human body at various times. Additionally, the development of rheumatism is related to a person's diet and their living environment. Habits including eating heavily seasoned and oily foods, irregular lifestyle, and residing in humid environments all contribute to this development. As a result, symptoms of soreness and pain begin to appear in muscles and joints. The two most common origins of rheumatism are cold and dampness, which causes the pathogenic cold to condensate, thereby blocking off the main meridians. Although heat can be an origin of rheumatism, clinical practices have shown that regardless of heat or cold origins, the heat helps to alleviate the effects of pain and the cold will exacerbate the feeling of pain.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has accumulated data for over 2000 years that it uses to diagnose and treat illness. The methods for treating rheumatism generally adhere to the following principles:
1) Reinforcing the Body's Resistance and Eliminating the Pathogens:
Throughout the course of rheumatism, there is a constant struggle between the body's resistance and the pathogens. If the body's resistance increases, the disease is reduced. In order to reinforce the body's resistance, Traditional Chinese Medicine combines the treatment of Chinese Herbs to tonify the Qi (the energy that flows through the body), to tonify the Yin and Yang, and to nourish the blood; and acupuncture to stimulate the appropriate acupoints. In order to eliminate the pathogens, Traditional Chinese Medicine uses the treatment of Chinese herbs to dissolve and eliminate the pathogenic dampness as well as to dispel the stasis, meanwhile acupuncture is used in a reducing method to stimulate certain acupoints.
In clinical practice, the method for reinforcing the body's resistance is used more than the method for eliminating the pathogens. To reinforce the body's resistance, the treatment method involves the regulation of visceral functions along with Qi and blood relations. This leads to the recuperation of these functions. Treatment of conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, lumbar vertebrae diseases, and polymyalgia rheumatica often uses a combination of Chinese herbs that tonify the liver and the kidney and acupuncture that manipulates the corresponding acupoints to reinforce the body.
2) Flexibility of treatment:
Even if the diseases are identical, patients are sometimes given different treatments due to their specific circumstances. An effective treatment for a condition like rheumatoid arthritis will depend on the various circumstances of the patient. For example, an elderly patient with decreased physical functions and deficient Qi and blood, the treatment should focus on reinforcing the body's resistance. For certain patients that are apprehensive to heat, cool-natured herbs should be used. Conversely, for patients who are apprehensive to cold, warm-natured herbs should be used. Various seasons also affect the physiological functions and the pathological changes in the human body. Therefore, appropriate adjustments should be made in regards to the depth of needle insertion and the choice of warm or cool natured herbs. Additionally, it is important that the treatment should take into account the different geographical environments. Places like Atlanta that are located in the southeast where summers are both hot and humid, the method of applying acupuncture and Chinese herbs should be heat-clearing, as well as providing dampness relief in nature.
3) The Equal Importance of Symptoms and Causes:
Traditional Chinese Medicine utilizes a combination of patient inquiries, palpation, tongue examination, and patient observation to best collect a comprehensive data regarding the patient's physical conditions and symptoms. After initial examination, Traditional Chinese Medicine uses its unique medical theory which divides the diseases into different categories according to their different etiology and pathology; the diseases are then treated accordingly. Patients seeking acupuncture treatment list pain as their chief complaint as pain is a major symptom of Rheumatism. While acupuncture is an effective treatment for relieving pain symptoms, it is also effective for treating the cause of many rheumatic diseases. Pain symptoms alone are not the fundamental reason for the cause of many rheumatic diseases. Therefore, treating the pain symptoms alone would lead to their recurrence. For example, the treatment of gout, a very painful inflammatory arthritis, can be divided into three categories: internal stasis of dampness and heat, phlegm-heat obstruction, and impairment of the liver and the kidney. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal treatment that corresponds to the above categories are: clearing the heat and relieving the dampness, clearing the heat and eliminating the stagnant, and nourishing the liver and the kidney.
Dr. Luo has treated numerous rheumatic patients over the many years of his clinical practice. The following are some case examples of the patients he has treated for rheumatism.
In May of 2010, a middle-aged female patient came to Dr. Luo for treatment. She suffered from spinal canal stenosis, bilateral lateral recess stenosis, and bilateral neuroforaminal stenosis at L4-5 and L5-S1. She had a two-year history of low back pain where the pain increased over the past year. She has had two epidural injections and physical therapies without improvement. She refused surgical treatment at that time. Her low back pain is in a fixed spot, and the pain increased with cold weather. She has also found the pain symptom made it difficult to walk, squat, and bend. Dr. Luo's examination included the observation of the patient's tongue and pulse in addition to her symptoms. Dr. Luo identified her condition as accumulation of cold and stasis of Qi. Her treatment began with acupuncture once a week. In addition, herbs were used to warm the Yang and to eliminate the cold. Low back pain was greatly reduced after two weeks of treatment. The patient's herbal treatment was discontinued and she continued with weekly acupuncture treatment for three more months. Her low back pain has since dissipated.
In July 2009, Dr. Luo treated a 65 year-old female patient suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. In the previous year, the patient started to suffer from pain in her fingers, swelling in her wrists, as well as morning stiffness in her finger and wrist joints. Her initial medical examination showed no rheumatoid factor. She was given pills and received physical therapy with no significant improvement. Three mothers later, the patient started pain and swelling in her knees. An X-ray on her hands showed osteoporosis, decrease in the wrist joint space, ESR 35mm / h, rheumatoid factor 1:20, and hemoglobin 97g / L. She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Dr. Luo began her treatment with acupuncture twice weekly, in combination with cupping during each treatment. In addition, the patient took Chinese herbal tea twice daily. Four weeks into the treatment, her joint pain and morning stiffness improved. After 10 weeks into the treatment, her joint pain and morning stiffness were significantly reduced so she occasionally took pain medication when the pain increased. Four months into her treatment, the swelling in her wrists and knees were significantly reduced. The patient's treatment changed to acupuncture treatment once weekly and her Chinese herbal tea treatment was discontinued. Her total treatment lasted for more than six months. The patient no longer has swollen knees and swelling in her wrists was significantly reduced. Additionally, except in cases of occasional excessive activity, her pain has dissipated. The patient's blood test report the year after treatment showed ESR 20mm / h and negative rheumatoid factor.
According to Dr. Luo's clinical experience, a combined treatment of acupuncture and Chinese herbs for most rheumatic diseases will generally have a positive effect. This combined treatment is especially effective for disease like cervical spondylosis, lumbar, sciatica, frozen shoulder, arthritis, and polymyalgia rheumatica. Acupuncture is a non-drug therapy; the treatment neither leaves any residue of drug metabolism nor causes any harm to the human body, thus, it has a unique role in treating pain, endocrine disorders, and regulating nerve functions. In addition, the vast majority of Chinese herbs consist of natural remedies so it has significantly fewer side effects compared with synthetic drugs. Since the ancient times, the processing methods for Chinese medicine has been rigorously developed, which effectively enhance its efficiency, while the side effects or the toxicity of certain medicines are eliminated.
For the prevention of rheumatism, one should first avoid excessive cold and dampness. For cold winters, when the temperature difference between indoors and outdoors are great, it is especially important to keep oneself warm when outside. Secondly, one should select one or two physical exercises that are appropriate for their physical conditions, keeping in mind that consistency is of key importance. After all, enhancing the body's constitution and immune system is the best prevention of rheumatism. Finally, one should work to develop a healthy diet and good style of living. One should not eat excessive oily foods and keep a balanced schedule between work and rest. One should seek treatment immediately without delay if one feels any sign of rheumatoid disease to avoid the missed opportunity of treating the disease early. For more information about Treatment of Rheumatism with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine, please contact Dr. Luo's Acupuncture for Rheumatism Atlanta office at (404)255-2558 or Acupuncture for Rheumatism Canton office at (770)720-1398 . Dr. Luo may give you the satisfactory relief you deserve.