Acupuncture Proves Effective For Knee Arthritis


Knee pain related to arthritis is quite common, particularly as we age. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the knee. It is a degenerative,”wear-and-tear” type of arthritis that occurs most often in people 50 years of age and older, but may occur in younger people, too. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the knee joint gradually wears away.

Conventional treatment generally includes pain medication and anti-inflammatories. While they can be beneficial, long term use can result in serious side effects including kidney and liver damage. Even short term side effects of these medications can be significant and include: upset stomach, mild heartburn, nausea, vomiting; bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, dizziness, headache, nervousness, mild itching or rash, and ringing in your ears. Thank you, but I’d rather pass.

What if I told you there was a treatment that was both safe and effective for arthritis of the knees. What if I also told you this treatment has been tested clinically for thousands of years. Since you are reading this, the obvious answer is found in acupuncture.

In a study by researchers from the Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture received five times a week for four weeks significantly reduced pain and improved stiffness in patients with knee osteoarthritis.

More than 550 patients diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis took part in the 26-week trial. The participants were randomly assigned to receive one of three treatments: acupuncture, sham acupuncture, or self-help strategies recommended by the Arthritis Foundation (the latter served as a control group).

In another study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, significant differences in response were seen by week eight and fourteen, and at the end of the trial, the group receiving real acupuncture had a 40 percent decrease in pain and a nearly 40 percent improvement in function compared to baseline assessments — a 33 percent difference in improvement over the sham group. They note:

Acupuncture seems to provide improvement in function and pain relief as an adjunctive therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee when compared with credible sham acupuncture and education control groups.

Most exciting to me is the fact that acupuncture, when used to treat chronic knee pain, has been shown to provide relief for months after treatment has ended. In one particular study, patients still noted relief 12 weeks later.

From this systematic review, we conclude that acupuncture may be effective at relieving chronic knee pain 12 weeks after acupuncture administration, based on the current evidence and our protocol.

As the detrimental side effects of pain medication continue to mount, patients as well as medical doctors are seeking safe alternatives. Acupuncture has proven be both safe and effective when it comes to the treatment of arthritis related pain.



Osgood-Schlatter Treatment Using Acupuncture

Women's Soccer vs. IowaOsgood-Schlatter (OS) disease isn’t really a disease―it is an inflammatory response to over stress of the knee. OS occurs when stresses from the thigh muscles pull on the attachment on the shin called the tibial tuberosity. In young athletes, the bones are continuing to grow. This occurs at regions in the bones called growth plates, which are regions of specialized cartilage that lay down bone. Unfortunately, these growth plates are weak areas that are prone to injury.

Osgood-Schlatter disease occurs most often in children who participate in sports that involve running, jumping and swift changes of direction. OS typically occurs in boys ages 12 to 14 and girls ages 10 to 13. The difference is because girls enter puberty earlier than do boys. The condition usually resolves on its own, once the child’s bones stop growing.

OS is fairly simple to diagnose. Pain is noted just below the knee cap located at the bump on the shin bone. Swelling and elevation of the tibial tuberosity are also common. Symptoms occur when running, jumping, or squatting. Many young athletes visit the doctor and are simply told to rest. This is great for the knee, but bad for the athlete! If this has been your prescription, I have some good news for you.

Using a combination of chiropractic to balance the hips, stretches to loosen the thigh muscles, taping to support the tendons, and acupuncture to reduce pain and inflammation, young athletes can find relief. Acupuncture is an amazing treatment that is extremely under utilized for OS. A study in the prestigious British Medical Journal found acupuncture a valuable treatment modality:”Acupuncture should be considered in Osgood-Schlatter disease, both to manage the pain and to limit the need to take oral analgesics for a prolonged period.”

Let me tell you Avery’s story. She is a young athlete that has dealt with Osgood-Schlatter. Better yet, let Avery’s mom, Shannon, tell you her story:

“Avery began experiencing knee pain in 5th grade. At just 10, we chalked it up to growing pains. But when it began to affect her ability to participate in P.E, and play softball, we consulted her pediatrician. We began a regimen of ice, ibuprofen, and a patella strap. The flare-ups would come and go every few months. I was concerned about the use of ibuprofen so regularly, but didn’t know what else to do. We tried physical therapy, stretching, epsom salt compresses, and many other remedies.”

“After over 2 years of this, and increasing knee pain, limited mobility and discomfort we decided to try acupuncture. After just a few visits, Avery noticed a definite decrease in the swelling in her knee. We are at about 8 visits now, and she has not taken ibuprofen once since we started! We are both excited and empowered about this form of pain management without the continual us of NSAIDs.”

You can see a video of me applying kinesiology tape on Avery’s knee below:

Although many youth tolerate acupuncture without issue, some may be reluctant to try it because of the needles. The good news is laser and electrical stimulation are effective alternatives for those concerned. The bottom line―there are safe, natural alternatives to pain medications with acupuncture leading the way. With thousands of years of clinical success, it’s a proven winner!