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    Tai Chi for Arthritis Relief

    Gentle movements of the ancient Chinese exercise tai chi are one of many alternatives to help elderly people find pain relief.

    What Studies Have Shown continued...

    "I'm an absolute huge fan of tai chi," says Jason Theodoskais, MD, MS, MPH, FACPM, author of The Arthritis Cure and a preventive and sports medicine specialist at the University of Arizona Medical Center.

    Any type of motion helps lubricate the joints by moving joint fluid, which is helpful in relieving pain, he says. "Tai chi is not a cure-all, but it's one piece of the puzzle. What's good about tai chi is that it's a gentle motion, so even people who are severely affected with arthritis can do it. Also, tai chi helps strengthen the joints in a functional manner... you strengthen muscles in the way your body normally uses the joints."

    More Alternatives for Arthritis Pain

    Many more options can help relieve arthritis pain. These include:

    Acupuncture: Acupuncture is another Chinese tradition that the World Health Organization has recommended as a treatment for pain. In acupuncture, disposable, stainless steel needles are used to stimulate the body's 14 major meridians (or energy-carrying channels) to correct energy imbalances in the body, according to Chinese medical philosophy. When the needles stimulate these nerves, it causes a dull ache or feeling of fullness in the muscle.

    Western doctors believe that since many acu-points are located near nerves, the needles help decrease pain by stimulating chemicals that block pain, called endorphins. The stimulated muscle sends a message to the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), causing the release of endorphins (morphine-like painkilling chemicals in our own bodies). This blocks the message of pain from being delivered up to the brain.

    Acupressure: This technique is similar to acupuncture, but it uses fingertip pressure rather than needles. Acupuncture actually evolved from acupressure. The pressure of fingertips on tender areas can help relieve pain by dispersing lactic acid that builds up in target areas. It is a safe technique that you can teach yourself.

    Chiropractic: A chiropractor treats diseases by manipulating the spine and other body structures, based on the belief that many diseases are caused by pressure, especially of the vertebrae, on nerves. Many people believe very strongly in this therapy because they do get pain relief from the manipulations. Check the credentials of anyone administering this therapy.

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