4 Chinese Medicine Lifestyle Changes to Support Joint Health

By Dr. Liz Carlson /

4 Chinese Medicine Lifestyle Changes to Support Joint Health

A torn ACL, a broken heart –– life brings all sorts of pain.  

The good news? You are meant to experience pain.

It is your body’s way of signaling stress; your innate intelligence gently aching (or screaming impatiently) to stop, listen, and change something...but what? 

Do you know where your pain is coming from? 

If we can identify the root of pain, we have a better chance of understanding how to address it. 

Today, we are focusing on physical pain –– muscular and joint pain, acute and chronic –– leaving the pain of goodbyes and menstrual cramps, spoken from your emotional body and hormonal system, for another day.

Identifying the source. 

As you may know, Traditional Chinese Medicine is a functional medicine –– we make sense of seemingly unrelated symptoms by identifying patterns of imbalance in order to discover the root cause of the disease. 

It’s a natural (and very understandable) response to pain to seek immediate relief.  A cortisone shot might help you pick up your baby, a pill might help you sit through your afternoon meetings, but understanding why you experience the pain in the first place makes you more likely to discover the steps to truly heal from it. 

Here are some questions that you can ask yourself to better understand:

  • What do I repeat day in and day out that might be causing me weakness, tension, perhaps both? (indicating repetitive strain) 
  • Have I neglected rest / hydration / nutrition in a way that may be presenting as pain?  (indicating inflammation)
  • I really just don’t understand why it hurts so much...how do I get help?

Reducing (and ultimately healing from) the pain. 

We understand the questions above might be frustrating –– you still might not be able to identify the source on your own or if you can, you want steps to help you feel better as soon as possible.  

Here are some tools, but it’s how you use them that counts. 

chinese medicine joint pain

Herbal Medicin

We are so proud to provide the incredibly effective herbal formulas that DAO Labs has created. Common Point strives to make acupuncture more accessible and DAO Labs intends to do the same for Chinese Herbal medicine.  

We have seen great success with Joint Vitality in our patient population that tends to strain the same joints over and over again, especially the low back.  As Dr. Karchmer writes, this formula “increases lower back support, improves joint strength and supports overall mobility,” all important steps to reducing pain.

Lifestyle Medicine 

At Common Point, our clinic in NYC, we  base everything we do on "the Basics" –– they are common sense, everyday principles of health (eat, drink, move, breathe, sleep, detox, celebrate) and they are always the best place to start with any kind of health condition. They are all as important as the next, but for the conversation of physical pain, let’s focus on these few: 

Eat whole foods and avoid processed foods. 

  • Are you avoiding processed sugar and flour? (Easier said than done, we know) Sugar + flour cause inflammation and most pain conditions are inflammatory –– the two don’t mix well.  
  • Choose whole foods with a focus on mostly anti-inflammatory vegetables (Need more guidance? Visit drmarkhyman.com)

Drink enough water. 

  • Are you hydrated enough? 
  • Enough water allows for circulation that lubricates joints and nourishes tissues, both vital for reducing inflammation. 

Move daily, if your body allows. 

  • The purpose of all pain treatments, everything from acupuncture to surgery, is with the intention to get you back in motion.
  • Movement is one of the best ways we know to reduce inflammation, strengthen joints and get you pain free. 
  • Everyday tension greatly benefits from stretching in the morning and continuing with a few simple stretches throughout the day –– plus, your body will love the break from your computer and desk.

Breathe deeply, all day. 

  • In Chinese medicine, we describe pain as excess (something is stagnating) or deficient (something is not being nourished). 
  • What both moves stagnation and brings nourishment? Oxygen.
  • Whether or not you meditate, keep breathing deeply throughout the day to allow for oxygen flow. 
  • Breathing is also one of the best ways to shift back into the “rest and digest” state (vs. “fight or flight”), where all healing takes place. 
  • If you are suffering from back pain, we also recommend the techniques from the teachings by Dr. John Sarno; his book “Healing Back Pain” is a good place to start. 

Acupuncture
The more familiar part of Chinese Medicine...the needles. As pain presents itself in various forms, acupuncture addresses the root imbalance, giving you relief in the moment and over time. Finding the right practitioner is at the essence of putting your care into a trusted source. Common Point focuses on a simple approach, because most things in life, including your pain, can be very complex. 

Dr. Liz Carlson is the founder, Licensed Acupuncturist + Herbalist of Common Point in Tribeca, New York. Their goal is to translate the perspective and philosophy of Traditional Chinese Medicine into something usable and understandable. In clinic and telehealth appointments available. Liz can be reached at liz@commonpoint.care.

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