Arthritis is a very common condition in the UK, affecting over 10 million people. It can affect people of all ages, from children up to the elderly, and there are multiple forms of arthritis.

The two most common types seen in the U.K. are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Symptoms generally include:

  • Joint pain, stiffness and tenderness
  • Inflammation in and around the affected joint(s)
  • Limited range of movement
  • Warm and red skin at affected area
  • Weakness and atrophy (wasting) of muscles


This is the most common type found in the UK, affecting 9 million people. Usually, it affects people in their mid-40’s or older, and is more common in women. It is the result of wear and tear on the joints, damaging the cartilage between the bones. The joints may become swollen and deformed, mainly at the hips, knuckles and spine.

It can be successfully treated by Chinese Medicine if it is caught in the early stages. It is seen as mainly due to weakness in the kidney and the liver, plus a lack of energy causing stagnation in the blood. It is important to keep the affected area(s) warm. A Chinese Medicine practitioner will prescribe Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis), Fang Feng (Radix Saposhnikoviae), or Kuan Jin Teng (Tinospora Sinensis Merr), Gui Zhi (Ramulus Cinnamomi) and Sang Zhi (Ramulus Mori) to warm the channels of the body and the blood, improving circulation and nourishing the joints.

Acupuncture is also used quite effectively in combination with Chinese herbal medicine to help manage pain and inflammation at the affected areas.

This helps to stop further deterioration in advanced cases, and can sometimes bring about a cure if treatment begins at the very first signs of the disease. When the joints are badly damaged, they cannot be restored.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

More than 400’000 people are affected in the UK and women are 3 times more likely to be affected than men. It is sometimes referred to as rheumatism. With this condition, the body’s immune system targets the affected area(s) leading to pain and inflammation. It is usually the synovium (outer covering) of the joint which is first affected. This can spread across the joint leading to further inflammation, and also to breakdown of cartilage and bone.

Treating Arthritis with TCM

Many patients of Chinese Medicine practitioners in Britain report pain relief and all-round improvement after a course of treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. This may also commonly include the use of acupuncture for pain and inflammation management and increasing range of movement. TCM theory views it is mainly Wind, Heat and Damp in the body leading to the pain and inflammation.

A Chinese Medicine practitioner will prescribe Lei Gong Teng (Radix Tripterygii Wilfordii), Huang Bai (Cortex Phellodendri), Niu Xi (Radix Achyranthis Bidentatae) and Yi Yi Ren (Semen Coicis) for acute cases.

For chronic cases there will be chronic Qi stagnation according to Chinese Medicine theory. Herbs will be prescribed which move the Blood and the Qi. There is a good prognosis for cases that are seen early. In later stages, medicine can help to reduce the swelling.

There is also a herbal based medicines which can be applied externally. These are often used as a home remedy, to ease discomfort. Herbal medicine plasters are also quite useful for management of rheumatoid arthritis, and are available to buy at Asante Academy.

Other types of arthritis and related conditions