Polymyalgia rheumatica is a disease that is a bit of a mystery to modern science. The cause of it is unknown as the onset can be sudden or gradual. It is not known why it affects more men than women and the symptom picture can overlap with problems such as fibromyalgia, temporal arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis making a diagnostic classification unclear. People around the age of 50 can get it but it is more common in the 70 year old age group.
What are the symptoms Polymyalgia Rheumatica?
The most distressing symptoms are severe pain in the upper body as well as buttocks and upper legs. There are accompanying symptoms including headache, fever and night sweats, digestive problems including weight loss as well as possible depression and fatigue.
How does traditional Chinese medicine look at the symptoms and diagnosis of Polymyalgia?
The symptoms of headache, fever and night sweats can be quite important diagnostically as they could indicate what is called in classical Chinese medicine, an exterior invasion penetrating into the six divisions. This is when the disease penetrates the layers of the body and become lodged there causing chronic symptoms. The six divisions system of diagnosis was founded by Zhang Zhong Jin in 200 A.D and his textbook is still one of the major four texts used today by modern students of Chinese herbal medicine.
The pain symptoms are due to either cold, damp, cold or heat penetrating into the muscle layer and this environmental pathogen then becomes stuck and causes the condition to become chronic.
Modern Chinese herbal texts have a category of herbal medicines that are regarded as dispersing wind dampness and these herbs are used in formulas for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and polymyalgic rheumatica. Examples of these herbs include wu jia pi, sang ji sheng and wei ling xian. It is important to note that these are just three examples of many and herbs such as above are combined with other herbs or formula to treat the root problem.
Listen to an interview with Heiko Lade about Polymyalgia and Chinese herbs
What is the root problem?
In many instances treatment for polymyalgia may require treatment for the underlying cause which could involve a number of organs such as the liver, kidneys and spleen. Chinese medicine says that the spleen controls the muscles and polymyalgia often causes intense muscle pain.
Sometimes herbal diuretics are prescribed in Chinese herbal formulas for polymyalgia.
Chinese medicine diagnosis may reveal that pathogens are lodged in the muscles causing the muscle pain and herbal diuretics such as yi yi ren (pearl barley) are prescribed and put in the base formula to help urinate out the toxins and free up the muscles.
Chinese Medicine for Polymyalgia Rheumatica could be the way forward for individuals seeking relief. Acupuncture NZ has over 700 members nationally and can be contacted to find members who have done additional training in Chinese herbal medicine and have degrees in the field.