In Traditional Chinese Medicine, arthritis and related conditions are classified as Bi syndromes, also known as painful obstruction syndromes. Deficiency of healthy qi and the invasion of pathogenic factors are two basic causes of this disorder. Low body resistance, lack of physical exercise and fatigue or weakening due to other illnesses may lead to deficiency of healthy qi. Additionally, local climate conditions and environmental changes may cause the "invasion" of exogenous pathogenic factors such as "wind", "cold", "heat", and "dampness". Because of variations in the body constitutions of patients and variances of the pathogenic factors involved, there are many types and manifestations of this condition.
Treatment generally consists of relieving the blockage or obstruction in the patient's meridians while improving the quality of the patient's qi and energy-flow. Immediate relief of pain symptoms is the primary goal, and is usually achieved earliest, while long-term treatment aims to reduce inflammation and prevent future flare-ups.
Best results are obtained with regular treatment by acupuncture - in China, daily treatments are not unheard of - and the regular use of external and internal herbal formulas. A regular program of Traditional Chinese exercises - known as qi gong or tai chi - may also prove useful in restoring and improving flexibility and reducing pain.