TCM has a lot larger view of the causes of arthritis then the typical western perspective. TCM also has a larger definition of the discomfort felt with arthritis as well. Here are a some, arthritis includes joint pain or deformity originating from imbalances from the bodily humors and qi, this includes joint pain but also a host of others like neuritis, neuralgia, muscle aches, cramps as well as joint pain related to dietary allergies or hormone imbalances. The reason that this perspective is so vast is because TCM doctors place the beginnings of arthritis from toxins, infections, and poor circulation.
In Ayurveda such toxins are called Ama. Ayurvedic doctors believe it underlies weakening congestive illnesses like colds, arthritic pain, paralysis, and cancer. In TCM there is a category termed "painful obstructions" which is were arthritis falls into because of the blocking of qi flow. You usually find internal wind, heat, cold, dampness, as well as unbalanced emotions influencing the pain and numbness associated with arthritis.
If you go to a Chinese doctor he/she would name your arthritis by the manifested symptoms. An example would be wind-chill-damp-arthritis. Wind-chill-damp arthritis pains migrate in the body- for example, from the shoulder to the wrist, or down the leg. They are aggravated by cold weather and humidity, and also by ice cold and phlegm producing foods.
You will notice that a lot of the underlying problems with rheumatic and rheumatoid arthritis are these specific causes.
Sometimes the quality of the pain itself can indicate its origins and type- for example, a heavy, dull(phlegm), but searing(hot) pain that feels worse with acidic or spicy foods (causes of internal heat) indicates inflammatory arthritis.
Once you know what make your specific arthritis worse you are then able to plan your diet around foods that are beneficial not harmful to you. You can also observe the progress of your illness, because arthritis like many other weakening illnesses, often progresses form a cold stage to an inflammatory one: At the onset, joints feeel worse in cold weather, but eventually become inflamed. As you can see once you have a thorough understanding of the effects your diet has on your arthritis you will be able to determine the type and prognosis. Our goal is not to just stop the pain, but to try and reverse the progress of the disease through diet and herbs.