A vast number of people have had to deal with some kind of knee pain at one point in their lives. Whether it be due to day to day wear and tear, injury, or just overuse stemming from sporting activities or work-related tasks, knee pain can be debilitating. The knee joint is the largest joint in the human body, vital for movement, and vulnerable to injury. It joins together the thigh bone, shin bone, fibula (on the outer side of the shin), and kneecap.
The knee is a synovial joint, meaning it contains a fluid-filled capsule. Two discs known as the menisci separate the lower bones and the upper bone of the knee. The lower bones of the leg (i.e., fibula and tibia) and the upper bone of the leg (femur) are joined together by ligaments, muscles as well as tendons.
The good news is that acupuncture has been successfully used to treat all types of knee pain, and in many cases, has helped patients avoid surgery. Let’s explore more of the types, causes, and conventional treatments for knee pain before we address how acupuncture can help.
Common types and symptoms of knee pain
The various types as well as symptoms of knee problems hinge on the respective causes of the problem. However, you know that it is time to seek treatment if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Experiencing pain that bars you from putting your weight on the knee
- Agonizing knee pain even when not putting any weight on the knee, for example when sleeping at night
- When your knee appears deformed
- When you have a swollen knee or there’s some redness around it
- Numbness, swelling or pain at the calf beneath a knee that has had a problem.
- Inability to completely straighten or bend the knee.
- A painful clicking or locking of the knee joint.
If the knee pain is still severe after days of treatment using conventional medicine, or if the condition doesn’t seem to improve weeks after starting Western Medical treatment, consider alleviating the problem using alternative medication such as acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
Common causes of knee pain
Participating in sporting activities and leading an active life does incredible good to all your joints and generally the entire body. However, injuries do occur and the knees are prone to injuries, partly because they carry the whole weight of your body plus any other load that you may carry. Some common causes of knee problems include runner’s knee, strained ligaments, tendonitis and meniscus tears. Additionally, persons who have had knee injuries in the past have had to deal with excruciating pain years later if the condition wasn’t treated properly.
The following are other causative factors of knee pain:
- Dislocation of the kneecap: Patellar dislocation or kneecap dislocation occurs when the kneecap glides or slips out of position. This leads to swelling of the knee.
- Iliotibial band syndrome: Overdoing an activity can lead to inflammation of the iliotibial bands, which are tough tissues running from the hip to the regions surrounding the knee. This inflammation makes the outer parts of the knee painful and runners usually experience this symptom when running downhill.
- Arthritis: There are many kinds of arthritis that can cause problems to the knee but the most common kind is osteoarthritis. This is basically the wearing and tearing of the knee joint and is a major cause of knee trouble for persons aged 50 and above.
- Loose cartilage: Injury that breaks the loose cartilage of the knee can lead to pieces of the cartilage getting stuck in the joint. This leads to pain as well as swelling of the knee. Such pain reappears when one is active.
- Bursitis: Bursae are smallish sacs beneath the skin around the joints that contain small amounts of fluid. Falling on the knee, overusing the knee, kneeling as well as frequent bending can lead to bursitis or inflammation of the bursae around your knee.
Western Medical Treatments for knee pain
Common Western medical treatments for knee pain include wrapping the knee joint to restrict joint movement and minimize swelling. These treatments also comprise of the administration of pain relieving medication like acetaminophen as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines or NSAIDS. Apart from oral intake of the medicine, there are cases in which the medicine injected is around the areas of the knee joint. Knee pain emanating from arthritis such as osteoarthritis may require surgical interventions if the pain becomes unbearable. Physical therapy, therapeutic massage and weight loss are other recommended treatments.
How acupuncture and Chinese medicine can treat knee pain
Western medical treatments do not always offer effective solutions for knee problems. Indeed, most patients lament that they seek treatment in conventional hospitals with high hopes that the issue would be resolved once and for all. However, they’re baffled when they are only given pain relievers and other oral medicines that do not end the problem over the long haul. Many patients who have had knee injuries and related problems treated through Western medicine usually complain of knee pain years later. This ineffectiveness of conventional medicine in treating knee pain and other conditions has led to the increasing popularity of alternative medicine, namely acupuncture and Chinese medicine for knee pain.
It is not surprising that physicians all over the world are turning to acupuncture in a bid to offer knee pain treatment with proven efficacy. Acupuncture has developed over thousands of years and it’s at the core of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). The treatment procedure involves inserting needles at certain body points. TCM rides on the premise that health depends on the flow of Qi (energy) all around the body via channels. One experiences pain or ill-health when there’s a disruption of or an imbalanced flow of Qi. Precisely inserting acupuncture needles along these channels or pathways through which this energy passes around the affected knee restores the flow of Qi and consequently offers pain relief.
There is a huge and growing body of research (see the references section) that supports the efficacy and safety of acupuncture in relieving knee pain and other body ailments including chronic problems such as back pain, neck, shoulder pain and more. Acupuncturists have perfected the art and science of rightful needle placement to produce signals that are transmitted to the central nervous system and trigger the production of neurotransmitters such as endorphins and enkephalins that relieve pain. If your knee pain has persisted over a long time even with the administration of Western medicine, consider going for acupuncture treatment to improve your condition. If knee surgery has been suggested by Western medical treatment, acupuncture can be used as an alternative.
Our licensed, skilled team of acupuncturists accept insurance and offer free consultations for those affected with knee pain in the communities of Margate, Coconut Creek, Coral Springs, Tamarac, Parkland, Deerfield Beach, and West Boca. Call us today!
- Berman, B. (2007). A 60-year-old woman considering acupuncture for knee pain. Jama, 297(15), 1697-1707.
- Pfeiffer, K. Acupuncture and Knee Pain.
- Scharf, H. P., Mansmann, U., Streitberger, K., Witte, S., Krämer, J., Maier, C., … & Victor, N. (2006). Acupuncture and knee osteoarthritis: a three-armed randomized trial. Annals of internal medicine, 145(1), 12-20.
- White, A., Foster, N. E., Cummings, M., & Barlas, P. (2007). Acupuncture treatment for chronic knee pain: a systematic review. Rheumatology, 46(3), 384-390.