One of the top reasons why people come to see me is for problems with one (or more) or their joints. Joints that are swollen. Joints that hurt. Joints that don’t move properly. Or for prevention of any of the above for someone who is active and would like to stay that way.
Most of us think of the knees, elbows, hips, shoulders, wrists, and ankles when we think about joints. But think, as well, of all the little joints in your fingers and toes (phalangeal joints) and your hands and feet (the metacarpals and metatarsals); the joints between every vertebrae along your spine; the joints of your jaw (temporomandibular joint—TMJ), and even those of your skull.
These joints work hard!
Like every hard working organism, they are not alone. They have support. Perhaps it’s just because the hockey playoffs are on now and I have sports on the brain, I’m going to use sport as an analogy.
The game can be called Kinesiology. My initial degree was Kinesiology, the study of human movement. The aim of the game is to move when called to action and stabilize when called to stop. Movement occurs at the joints and the team members are bones, cartilage, bursa, menisci, synonvial joint fluid, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Each of these team members has a role to play.
Bones, whether flat, long, or irregularly shaped, end at least one side in a joint. Cartilage, and bursa help buffer friction and impact. Synovial joint fluid also helps with these roles as well as with lubricating the joint. Ligaments help prevent too much movement of the joint that would otherwise result in injury. Tendons and muscles move the joints. When one of these teammates has a problem, the joint has a problem.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, each of these players is connected to an organ system. Kidneys regulate the bones and cartilage. Liver rules the tendons and ligaments. Spleen controls the muscles.
You might think of these organ systems as the coaches. High level teams often have more than one coach! Even these coaches do not function on their own. There are other organ systems that must function properly in order for them to do their job, just as a general manager, owner, and fans will impact the coaches.
So you can see that joint health is incredibly complex. Traditional Chinese Medicine considers this complexity and addresses the joint itself as well as all the players and participants that allow the joint to function properly. We do so by making a proper assessment and then using acupuncture, Chinese herbs, supplements, and other modalities to treat the individual, not just the “problem” joint(s). You win when you can move without pain and restriction!