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In the present medical literature, arthritis is divided into many types. Ironically, they are more or less treated with anti-inflammatories of some type, NSAIDs and steroids are commonly used agents. In Chinese Medicine however, we don't care what type you have, yet we are still able to treat it, and provide long-lasting relief, at the same time, decrease its recurrence rate. Here I present a case to illustrate that.
This is an old patient of mine. His work is physically demanding as there is prolonged period of standing and wearing special types of shoes that are clunky and anything but ergonomically friendly to the foot. On top of this, he alternates between night and day shifts frequently. Although this has become a thing of the norm for the last few decades, but as he nears his 60s, he's discovering his stamina isn't holding up the way they used to.
One of the biggest problem he's been having is recurrent arthritis of his feet. Sometimes it's his toes, sometimes it's his ankles, sometimes it's the right, other times the left. They come and go, but every time they come, it would be swollen, red, painful, throbbing, and rendering him difficult to stand and move for his job. In the past this has happened multiple times, but anti-inflammatories prescribed by his doctor or just the regular tylenol or advil would control it very well. Of course it would trail on, but somehow, gradually recede by itself, causing tolerable but not incapacitating unease.
They say seasons change, and so do people. Lately it's been coming back more and more often. And the usual tricks he uses don't work anymore. When he came to see me, he limped into my clinic. The slightest pressure on his feet would cause excruciating pain. When he exposed his feet to me, the whole feet was puffed up, red, swollen and felt warm. At night he said, the feet would throb together with his heart beat. Every time his heart beat, the feet would throb, and he would feel pain. So essentially he's in pain 24/7. While this is very severe, it certainly isn't something that's unusual to Chinese Medicine.
I told him, the pills you were taking on a long term basis to suppress this problem had essentially compromised your immune system, so at this moment in time, your own immunity is no longer able to get rid of the problem by itself. The course of action right now would be to improve your immune system so the inflammation would abate naturally, although, given his presentation, the process may take some time. I prescribed Chinese Medicine for him. The initial dosages didn't seem to effect much of a change. He was still taking pain-killers to get by his job.
Later on, I decided to increased the dosage significantly. When he took the newer herbal medicine, the inflammation went away remarkably and the swelling receded quite a bit, to the point where wrinkles were seen on the skin, a testament to how swollen it was originally. As he continued to take the medicine, the problem gradually receded. After a month, the inflammation, pain, swelling was essentially eliminated.
I made some modifications to his prescription for the second month. And he discontinued treatment shortly thereafter. Around 6 months later, the arthritis returned. Although this time it was in another joint on the other foot. Again, big dosages were needed to treat the problem. This time too, he took the medicine for almost 3 months. The problem subsequently happened again approximately 6 months later, which Chinese Medicine succeeded again in treating. Afterwords, the problem didn't return anymore.
It's important to note, that this type of arthritis has a lot to do with his own immunity and stamina. As his job was physically demanding, the problem tends to occur every time when he becomes too tired. However, whenever he takes the Chinese Medicine, his body becomes stronger bit by bit, and the deep seated inflammatory toxins driven deep into the body by his long term use of medications were being taken away from the body gradually. The result is a longer lasting and self-sustaining improvement of his overall condition that drastically decreases the recurrence rate of arthritis.