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Is Arthritis Avoidable?

Is Arthritis Avoidable? Short answer... yes!
Woman with knee pain

Short answer… YES!

One of the most popular pieces from the New York Times in 2023 was this article: Is Arthritis Avoidable?
This is not surprising, given how common a diagnosis arthritis is and how disruptive it can be to live with that pain every day.  
The essential thrust of the NYT article is that the main way to decrease your likelihood of arthritis is to remain active. The research indicates that people who exercise regularly have far less pain and far more physical capabilities than those who do not exercise.
This is even true for individuals with imaging that show signs of arthritis and other joint deterioration – if they are able to remain active, they are far less likely to have any signs of arthritis or pain.
This all lines up perfectly with how we understand pain in Chinese Medicine. In the most basic terms, Chinese Medicine understands all pain as a lack of movement (or “stagnation”) somewhere in the body, usually at the site of pain at minimum.
The earliest known text in Chinese Medicine called the Huang Di Nei Jing (from approximately 2500 years ago) describes it like this:
“If there is free flow there is no pain; if there is pain, there is lack of free flow. Where there’s stagnation, there will be pain. Remove the stagnation, and you remove the pain.”
Pretty simple, right?!  Keep things moving in order to avoid pain.
But how do we do that?
In Chinese Medicine theory, there are many factors that can interrupt the “flow” and therapies were developed to keep it moving:
  • Move your body.  Western and Eastern medicine are in lockstep on this point; move your body to prevent pain. The key here is to move your body in ways that are appropriate for your age and physical abilities.  If movements or activities cause you more pain, do something else.  But don’t stop moving! Use acupuncture, bodywork and targeted stretching to keep you moving.


  • Breathe deeply.  Practicing breathing that moves your lower abdomen in and out engages your diaphragm.  When your diaphragm moves, it massages all of your internal organs, providing movement and preventing stagnation. Even if you have arthritis in a limb or your fingers, preventing and reversing stagnation in your internal organs will help immensely with detoxification and nervous system function. It’s all connected!


  • Limit foods that cause stagnation. Sugar, excess dairy, and excess alcohol are the most common sources of increased stagnation.


  • Increase foods that relieve stagnation. Light herbs and spices, citrus and plenty of filtered water are all ways to increase movement and prevent stagnation.



  • Use cupping therapy and gua sha. Both of these therapies are used to break apart adhesions and knots, allowing for fresh blood flow and movement in the painful areas.


  • Use heat. Heat creates movement; cold causes fluid to slow down and creates more stagnation. Use heat (heating pad, hot water bottles, bathtub, sauna, etc.) on areas of pain or along the spine.


  • Use herbs. Chinese herbs have been used for millennia to move stagnation. Check with a Licensed Acupuncturist to learn which ones would be best for your specific pattern.
In summary, pain and discomfort from arthritis are treatable and should not be ignored. Starting to treat the causes of arthritis sooner than later by using a multi-faceted, personalized approach will have the best outcomes.
Chris Goddin, owner and acupuncture of Balance Wellness

Why choose Balance?

I have made it my mission to be an advocate for you, my patients, and determine what steps you need to take to improve your health and get to the root of your health issues. My background in Integrative Medicine gives me the opportunity to understand the various mechanisms that are causing your health issues and the tools we can use to fix them.

I feel extremely fortunate to have found this medicine and I look forward to the opportunity to share it with you!

—Chris Goddin, L.Ac.


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