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Arthritis is one of the most common health conditions in the West. The most noticeable symptom is joint pain, but may also involve swelling, stiffness and in severe cases, joint distortion. It may start as mild discomfort and most people don't pay much attention to it. The condition progressively worsens until the pain becomes unbearable. The family doctor usually diagnose joint pain as some form of arthritis. Arthritic pain may be localized to the back, neck, knee, feet or hands.
There are several common forms of arthritis affecting the majority of patients. The most common one, osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) is a result of age, trauma or infection. Other common forms of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, TMJ, psoriatic arthritis and autoimmune diseases in which the body's immune system gets confused and attacks its own joint tissues.
Western medicine is focused on the symptom of pain which is in turn cased by inflammation at the joints affected. As a result, anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly prescribed. Physical exercise may also be included.
TCM (Traditional Chinese medicine) has a different perspective on arthritis. It is considered a symptom of deeply rooted problems. Only when these root causes are iradicated can the symptoms be eliminated. The condition congruent with arthritis is called "Bi Syndrome" 庳症 , which causes pain or numbness in the soft tissues such as muscles and tendons, as well as the joints. Bi is caused by attack of external pathogenic factors such as coldness, dampness, wind and/or heat. Depending on the actual pathogenic factor(s) involved, the symptoms may vary. It is critical that the practitioner accurately diagnoses the patient in order to treat the patient successfully.
Bi caused by wind results in pain that moves from joint to joint, or muscle to muscle. Exposure to wind without protection and over a long period of time is usually the cause. Wind can be any type of air movement, and it can occur indoor or outdoor. In the summer, air conditioning or a blowing fan when aimed at the head or body can result in this condition.
Bi caused by coldness manifests itself as pain that is fixed, and the symptom eases when warmth is applied, but worsens when exposed to coldness.
Bi caused by dampness is characterized by pain in the muscles and joints that does not move. The patient has a sensation of numbness and heaviness in the affected areas. The pain is worsened by damp weather.
Bi caused by heat is characterized by red, hot and swollen joints accompanied by severe pain. Applying coldness to the affected areas usually relieves the pain. The patient exhibits the usual symptoms of excessive heat such as anxiety,