Elbow stiffness according to Chinese Medicine

Elbow stiffness can be the consequence of several so-called “patterns of disharmony” in Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted, leading to symptoms or signs that something is wrong (like elbow stiffness here). It is similar to the concept of disease in Western Medicine but not quite: a Western disease can often be explained by several Chinese patterns and vice-versa.

A pattern often manifests itself in a combination of symptoms that, at first glance, do not seem necessarily related to each others. For instance here elbow stiffness is often associated with lumbar pain, shoulder pain and knee pain in the pattern “/tcm-education-center/patterns/painful-obstruction-syndrome”.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of elbow stiffness we’ve identified two herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the five medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat elbow stiffness.

Painful Obstruction Syndrome, a "pattern of disharmony" that can cause elbow stiffness

In Chinese Medicine elbow stiffness is a symptom for the pattern "Painful Obstruction Syndrome". Below is a small explanation for it with links for more details.

Prepared Sichuan Aconite (Zhi Chuan Wu) is the king ingredient for Wu Tou Tang, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/painful-obstruction-syndrome

Painful Obstruction Syndrome

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Wiry (Xian)

In addition to elbow stiffness, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/painful-obstruction-syndrome include lumbar pain, shoulder pain and knee pain.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/painful-obstruction-syndrome is often treated with Wu Tou Tang, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Prepared Sichuan Aconite - Zhi Chuan Wu - as a key herb). Wu Tou Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that warm the meridians and disperse cold", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms the channels and remove obstruaction".

Read more about Painful Obstruction Syndrome here

Two herbal formulas that might help with elbow stiffness

Wu Tou Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Warms the channels and remove obstruaction. Disperse Cold and Dampness. Warms the joints. Relieve joints pain.

Why might Wu Tou Tang help with elbow stiffness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/painful-obstruction-syndrome' of which elbow stiffness is a symptom.

Read more about Wu Tou Tang here

Da Fang Feng Tang

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Key actions: Expel Wind Damp. Relieve pain. Tonify the Liver and the Kidneys. Tonify the Blood and Qi.

Why might Da Fang Feng Tang help with elbow stiffness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/painful-obstruction-syndrome' of which elbow stiffness is a symptom.

Read more about Da Fang Feng Tang here

Acupuncture points used for elbow stiffness

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat elbow stiffness

Why might White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with elbow stiffness?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat elbow stiffness as a symptom, like Wu Tou Tang or Da Fang Feng Tang for instance.

White Peony Roots is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Sour. It targets the Liver and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood and preserves the Yin. Nourishes the Liver and assists in the smooth flow of Qi. Regulates the meridians and eases the pain.

Read more about White Peony Roots here

Why might Milkvetch Root (Huang Qi) help with elbow stiffness?

Because Milkvetch Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat elbow stiffness as a symptom, like Wu Tou Tang or Da Fang Feng Tang for instance.

Milkvetch Roots is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Wei Qi and stops perspiration. Tonifies the Spleen Qi and the Yang Qi of the Earth Element. Tonifies the Qi and Blood. Expels pus and assists in the healing of wounds. Helps to regulate water metabolism in the body and reduce edema.

Read more about Milkvetch Roots here

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with elbow stiffness?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat elbow stiffness as a symptom, like Wu Tou Tang or Da Fang Feng Tang for instance.

Liquorice is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Basal Qi and nourishes the Spleen Qi. Clears Heat and dispels toxicity. Moistens the Lungsexpel phlegm and stop coughing. Relieves spasms and alleviates pain. Harmonizes and moderates the effects of other herbs.

Read more about Liquorice here

Why might Saposhnikovia Root (Fang Feng) help with elbow stiffness?

Because it is a key herb in Da Fang Feng Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Painful Obstruction Syndrome' (a pattern with elbow stiffness as a symptom)

Saposhnikovia Roots is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Bladder, the Liver and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold. Relieves Wind-Damp-Cold painful obstruction. Disperses Wind.

Read more about Saposhnikovia Roots here

Why might Ephedra (Ma Huang) help with elbow stiffness?

Because it is a key herb in Wu Tou Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Painful Obstruction Syndrome' (a pattern with elbow stiffness as a symptom)

Ephedra is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Bladder and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Releases the surface through sweating. Promotes the circulation of Lung Qi and stop wheezing. Promotes urination.

Read more about Ephedra here