Knock out Knee Pain With Acupuncture. Each year, more than 20 million Americans seek treatment for painful knee conditions, most of which are due to injury, overuse or arthritis. The knees are the body’s largest joint, acting like big, knobby shock absorbers, and as a result, they’re subjected to tremendous amounts of stress and strain every day.
You use your knees a lot-probably more than you even realize. You use them to sit, to stand, to walk, and just to maintain your balance. And that’s not all: you also spend some time kneeling on them to garden or fix things, and what about bending down to pick up things off the floor, not to mention the athletic types who run.
Unlike some joints that pivot and swivel like those in the wrist or neck, the knee joint is designed to bend and flex in a single plane – up and down. Its range of motion is also restricted, typically to about zero degrees when it’s stretched out straight to about 140 degrees when it’s fully bent. A single misplaced step can cause the knee to twist or overextend, resulting in pain and inflammation in the ligaments, tendons and other areas of the joint that can make even simple movement uncomfortable. With all this being said, knee pain is one of the most common types of joint pain.
As a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are some conditions that are a challenge to treat and some that are fairly easy. I like to see patients with knee pain, because acupuncture is an effective treatment, and those patients usually leave happy and feeling much better.
Acupuncture has been shown to be highly effective in treating knee pain and studies suggest it works in three primary ways:
- First, acupuncture helps increase circulation to the injured area. When blood flow is increased, all the toxins and fluids that build up as a result of inflammation can be removed more quickly. That means swelling will decrease more rapidly, reducing the painful friction that occurs when swollen tissues rub against each other. Improved circulation also promotes healing by supplying the injured area with an increased supply of oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood, speeding up the tissue repair process.
- Second, acupuncture relaxes and loosens painful “knots” or “trigger points” that develop in muscles and fascia, the layer of tissue that surrounds muscles. Acupuncture works by deactivating these painful trigger points, unknotting sore spots and helping to relax the unnatural tension that can develop in the muscle fibers as a result of injury.
- Finally, acupuncture works with the body’s own healing and pain relieving processes to help resolve the underlying injury naturally. Researchers believe the technique has an effect on two chemical components that are essential in the body’s natural healing process: Endorphins and serotonin – the body’s “feel good” chemicals. Endorphins are often released following prolonged physical activity, and they’re the chemicals that are responsible for the so-called runner’s high experienced by many long-distance runners and other endurance athletes.
They also act as a natural painkiller, working in the same way strong pain medication works by interacting with pain receptors in your brain so you experience less pain at the injury site. Better still, endorphins can also cause a mild sedative effect, helping your muscles to relax. Serotonin is another “feel good” chemical that’s been closely linked with mood. Like endorphins, serotonins decrease the brain’s perception of pain, which in turn can help muscles relax and improve blood flow to the area.
At Body and Soul Acupuncture, we see many patients who have knee pain. Clearly, the nature of the pain and the underlying cause plays a huge role in the outcome of our treatments. While acupuncture can’t undo structural problems involving your knee, it can help manage the pain quite well, prolong the need for replacement surgery, and speed the healing process. After a detailed intake and health history, a typical treatment would involve acupuncture, the use of far-infrared heat, and electric stimulation to accomplish our goals.
While many people may not think about acupuncture for their knee pain, those who do are pleasantly surprised. A few sessions on the acupuncture table may be all it takes to get you on your feet again