Acupuncture relieves knee pain!
Our knees, often taken for granted until they go wrong, are powerful joints daily taking a lot of weight and often considerable forces to boot. As such they deserve care and maintenance and if they should start to go wrong early treatment is vital.
There are a number of common injuries; causes of knee pain and loss of joint function. They can broadly be divided into three – acute injuries, chronic conditions and operative recovery.
Acute injury – often caused through stress movement, such as in sports, but may come on merely from an innocuous movement such as a twist whilst walking. The knee will be more prone to injury if there is weakness or imbalance in the stabilising muscles above and below the knee. In the initial acute cycle R.I.C.E. applies – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. With acupuncture we work to improve the circulation locally and use distal points on the hands and feet to manage specific pain areas. We may prescribe a cooling herbal plaster to apply to the area.
Chronic dysfunction and pain – arises either when an acute injury or a number of acute injuries in succession are not fully resolved and leave an imprint of dysfunction on the joint. Injury often further weakens an existing weakness. More internal causal factors – such as arthritis and soft tissue dysfunction – can also result in chronic pain. We often hear that someone has arthritis of the knee when in actual fact the acute arthritis came and went years ago leaving the long term imprint of chronic joint damage and pain.
Acupuncture, massage and a tailored exercise programme will usually help get the pain under control. It will depend on the level of permanent damage to the joint how much functional recovery is achievable. Treatment will concentrate on pain control points, often on the hands and feet, that connect to the circulation lines through which the pain is felt. We will focus on improving local blood circulation to bring fresh nutrients to the joint and surrounds and flush out old toxins – massage, local cupping and electro-acupuncture are very useful in this regard. Where there is muscle weakness and imbalance in the joint supporting muscles we will work to reactivate them.
In Traditional Acupuncture chronic injury is usually connected with underlying deficiency. In the case of the knees this is connected with the Kidney (& Bladder) energy and blood circulations. This deficiency becomes more pronounced with age. Nourishing and supporting the Kidney/Bladder organ/circulation systems with acpuncture will have a deeply beneficial effect on the whole individual as well as improving the individuals’ own circulation capacity through the knee. This is often perceived as a ‘smoother, warmer, more flexible’ knee joint internally.
The pain relief afforded often helps patients to put off a full knee replacement for significant periods of time.
Operative recovery – after a knee operation – anything from athroscopic cartilige repair to full knee replacement – patients often say that they could have done with more post operative supervision, treatment and care.
Athroscopy is minimally invasive, often very successful and recovery can be rapid with the basic post operative exercises.
However a knee replacement is a major operation and due to the nature of the joint involves a slower recovery period than the hip which is inherently more stable. Treatment involves addressing both the acute and chronic aspects. Helping to calm and resolve the trauma of the op ( both locally and for the whole person subject to recovery from general anaesthetic etc). Working to reactivate the knee stabilising muscles above and below the joint – especially vastus medialis. Recommending appropriate exercises – such as sitting or reclining exercise bike – to encourage circulation through the joint and muscle reactivation and recovery. Above all patience is required as it can take 6 months plus (depending on the age of the patient) for full recovery to be attained.