Pain in the knee joint is a very common complaint. It occurs among athletes due to injury, or in the elderly caused by arthritis. It many ways it is a poorly designed joint, and hence there is a long list of injuries that can occur to it. Acupuncture has been shown to be very effective in treating arthritic knee pain. The most common causes of knee pain I see in clinic are:
- Torn Meniscus
- arthritis of the knee
- Torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament
- Baker’s Cyst
- Inflammation of the knee joint
Depending on how much damage has been caused to the knee impacts how good a result we can achieve. Often serious tears to ligaments and meniscus require surgery first. Acupuncture can help with recovery and pain management both before and after surgery. Generalized knee pain and soft tissue injuries I find respond very well to Acupuncture. As no major structural damage has occurred, the prognosis is often very good. As the knee is a weight bearing joint, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible, as the joint rarely gets rest. Meaning its very easy for the joint to deteriorate.
Common Causes of Knee Pain
I often see knee injuries occur from:
- poor lifting technique
- excessive exercise
- old age and wear and tear to the joint
- Excess weight
- Direct trauma such as motor vehicle accidents
Many causes of knee pain come from tight muscles, which left unmanaged transfers the load to the joint. This can lead to inflammation of the tissues in the knee and the fluid filled sacs. This is how a Baker’s Cyst develops, which shows on the back of the knee when standing. There are several fluid sacs within the knee joint, they provide cushioning. If one becomes inflamed it can become a cyst and cause pain.
How I Treat Knee pain with Acupuncture
Acupuncture is very good at removing inflammation, the knee in particular responds quite well. From an Acupuncture view, there are multiple diagnosis behind knee pain, its very different to Western Medicine. Often traumatic injuries are called Qi and blood stagnation, as there is a mix of sharp and dull pains. Arthritic knees are more caused by cold or hot damp, as they often respond to the weather and swell. The overall goal is to remove the blockages, so fresh blood and nutrients can get in and repair the joint.
With conditions where the knee has had serious structural damage, like torn meniscus and arthritis. It is about management and slowing the deterioration. Despite all the surgical options, they don’t offer a fool proof solution. Surgery often needs to be repeated a few years later, and I have several patients who’s knees have been further damaged by the surgery. Acupuncture is a far less invasive method of treatment, with documented success in many journals in rehabilitating knee injuries.
Ways of Preventing Knee Pain
One of the best things to do to avoid knee pain is to be active. A recent study showed that running in fact prevented arthritis of the knee, not caused it. The emphasis though was the get fit to run, not run to get fit, this is where the damage occurs. The best advice I can give to avoid knee pain is:
- Do regular exercise
- Do regular stretching to prevent tight leg muscles
- Reduce excess weight if you are obese
- Don’t ignore knee pain, seek medical advice if it persists