Talk set April 5 on non-pharmaceutical options for osteoarthritis

April 4, 2017

Before reaching for a pill, people with osteoarthritis can learn about the growing list of non-pharmaceutical options that are proving equally effective in managing this painful condition. The community is invited to a free lecture at 3 p.m., Wednesday, April 5, at Lewes library. Uday Jani, MD, and acupuncturist Denise Demback will discuss how mindfulness techniques, smart food choices and alternative treatments can provide a natural and gentle road to pain relief.

Each year, millions of Americans are sidelined by joint pain. If the pain is mild, many just tough it out, only to find that the problem gets worse each year. This is particularly true for osteoarthritis, the age-related degeneration of joints, the most common cause of joint pain that afflicts one in seven Americans. Coping with the swollen, stiff joints of osteoarthritis makes it impossible to exercise or live life fully; some sufferers are virtually housebound by their pain. Are pain-relieving pharmaceuticals the only solution?

"Fortunately, there are a number of more natural measures, with proven efficacy, that can be used to manage this painful condition," said Jani, a board-certified internist with a fellowship in integrative medicine. "Exercise and weight loss can make a significant difference, as can certain foods, nutrients and supplements that alleviate symptoms, reduce inflammation and even help rebuild joint tissue."

The ancient art of acupuncture also continues to gain traction as an antidote to pain, according to licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist Demback. In traditional Chinese medicine, arthritis is classified as a "Bi syndrome," which manifests as pain, soreness or numbness of muscles, tendons and joints, and is the result of the body’s being invaded by the external climatological factors of wind, cold, heat and/or dampness. The symptoms experienced by the individual depend on which external pathogenic factor is strongest, and lodge in the body's meridians (energy pathways), obstructing the free flow of chi (the life force) and blood.

"When blood and energy are not able to flow naturally, they stagnate, causing pain, heat and other symptoms of illness," said Demback. "Acupuncture and herbal therapy help to open the blockage, balance the energy, and harmonize chi and blood."

Demback will explore in detail each of the four factors and their associated symptoms, and explain how acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy work together as a uniquely effective treatment. Jani will share how the combination of healthy eating and proven mind-body techniques including meditation, hypnosis, guided imagery, yoga, biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy can be potent tools in managing the pain of osteoarthritis.

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