Did you push through knee pain all winter long? Do your knees ache and slow you down in the morning? Are you nervous to do summer activities like hiking, biking, and climbing? Have you had surgery on your ACL, MCL, LCL or PCL? It’s time to have long lasting pain relief that helps prevent future injuries plus allows you to enjoy year-round activities.
A 2015 study states acupuncture, in combination with functional training exercises, is more effective than exercise alone after knee surgery. All individuals in this study were diagnosed with meniscus tears, using MRI and arthroscope. The entire group underwent surgery and was treated with functional exercises afterward. The group was split in two groups. One received functional training exercises and no acupuncture, the other received functional training exercises and acupuncture. The acupuncture group showed reduced pain and higher range of motion faster than the non-acupuncture group. Acupuncture is an effective pain reliever, but also treats the underlying cause of the pain.
To understand how acupuncture can treat and prevent knee injuries it is helpful to look at the intricate structure of the knee. The knee has four bones, four cartilages, five ligaments, and two major tendons that provide it with stability and strength. The four bones are the tibia, femur, patella, and fibula. The femur is the longest and strongest bone in the body. Connecting the four bones are five ligaments; the medial collateral ligament (MCL), lateral collateral ligament (LCL), anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), and patellar ligament. Between the tibia and femur are two shock-absorbing cartilages called menisci that help stabilize the knee and create a wedge effect. Articular cartilage is on the ends of the femur and tibia, allowing the bones to move against each other without pain.
Acupuncture is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine and has been practiced for more than 5,000 years. More than half of meridians followed in acupuncture travel through the knees. There are six primary and five extraordinary acupuncture channels, which specifically address the knee.
Points benefiting the sinews
Sinews are tough fibrous tissue connecting muscles to bone, and bone to bone. Sinews encompass both tendons and ligaments and are widely discussed in acupuncture texts. Since the knee is made up of sinews, I use specific acupuncture points to lubricate, strengthen, and repair sinews whenever I see someone with knee pain or joint pain. Along with acupuncture, I also utilize electric-acupuncture and moxibustion.
Electro-acupuncture’s role with muscles and tendons
Electro-acupuncture connects acupuncture points with small clamps and runs an electric current between the two points. This increases the circulation, relieves pain, and reaches a larger area than the needles alone. Electro-acupuncture is not painful; it feels like a slight tapping or buzzing sensation.
Moxibustion benefits muscles and tendons
Moxibustion is the burning of an herb on or near the skin in addition to acupuncture. I use the herb mugwart, also known as artemesia vulgaris, when performing moxibustion. This herb increases circulation, reduces swelling, and alleviates pain. It has been very effective in treating knee pain associated with chronic and acute injuries.
Importance of preventative maintenance
Once your knee pain has reduced, it is extremely important to continue maintenance treatments for your knees, especially when you do high impact sports. Knees try their best to keep up when we continue to jump, twist, and stretch. This wear and tear on the menisci, tendons, and ligaments will eventually become chronic if you do not give yourself rest days and restorative care. Many people come in for tune-up acupuncture treatments and continue to flourish with no pain.
How acupuncture helped me
This past winter I strained both my knees while skiing. Fortunately and unfortunately, I did this while scooting along at the high speed of two miles per hour at the end of November. The pain was so severe I thought I had taken myself out for the season. I immediately went to see if I had torn anything and it turned out to be a strain. Luckily, I knew that if I treated my knees regularly with acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, and Rolfing, I would be able to continue skiing this year. I gave myself acupuncture treatments three times a week for the first two weeks, reduced my twisting and high impact activities and had additional treatments every other week for two months. With only two weeks off from skiing, I was able to ski all season; however, it took a solid three months before I felt confident in my knees to push myself. Now, I feel strong with rigorous activity and I am completely pain free!
Come in and give your knees some much needed R and R.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Molecular Cellular Developmental Biology and a Master’s of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. I offer a safe option for your healthcare that is free of side effects. I have found treating patients to be incredibly rewarding. Non-invasive options should be everyone’s first route of care. I enjoy challenging cases. Give me a chance to help you. Consultations are always complimentary!