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Acupuncture for Knee Osteoarthritis and Knee Pain


Knee osteoarthritis, including rheumatoid and osteoarthritic variants, is a common cause of knee pain. Both acute and chronic stages of these conditions are suitable for acupuncture treatment, which typically yields positive results. Acupuncture is also effective in treating other knee-related pains caused by soft tissue injuries or inflammation, such as sprains of the medial and lateral collateral ligaments, cruciate ligament or meniscus injuries, synovitis, and tendinitis.


In acupuncture treatment, local needling plays a primary role. The key is to select appropriate acupuncture points based on the location of pain, tenderness, skin temperature changes, or swelling.


There is growing clinical recognition of the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating knee osteoarthritis. To enhance the therapeutic effect of acupuncture for knee pain or osteoarthritis, identifying and locating corresponding acupuncture points is crucial. Due to the large area of the knee joint, painful and swollen reactions can occur around the knee, such as around the patella, near the collateral ligaments, or in the popliteal fossa. Therefore, acupoint selection should be based on differential diagnosis.


The knee has two highly sensitive windows that reflect its internal changes: the medial and lateral Xiyan points (including Dubi). These points are often the first to show swelling and are almost always indicated in all cases of knee osteoarthritis or internal soft tissue injury.


In some cases, knee pain patients do not show swelling at the Xiyan points but rather exhibit significant tenderness at the junction between the lower end of the femur and the upper end of the tibia, corresponding to the midpoint of the medial and lateral collateral ligaments. These tender points must be needled, although they often lie over bone seams or periosteum, requiring oblique or transverse needling.


When treating knee osteoarthritis, it is vital to differentiate between cold and hot conditions. This can be done simply by placing a hand over the patella to feel for temperature differences. Acute episodes are generally hot, with local skin temperature elevation alongside swelling and pain. Chronic cases or those in elderly patients might not show significant swelling but often have cold skin and stiffness, typical of "cold bi" syndrome.


Currently, total knee replacement surgery is widely used to treat severe knee osteoarthritis, offering significant pain relief and functional recovery for many patients. However, a considerable number of patients experience pain recurrence years after surgery. Post-surgical patients, with altered anatomical structures, present a greater challenge for acupuncture treatment compared to those who haven't undergone such surgery. Acupuncture for knee pain can also involve JuCi techniques or AShi points. Applying contralateral needling in conjunction with rehabilitation treatment on the affected side can yield significant results for knee osteoarthritis.


In conclusion, acupuncture offers a comprehensive approach for managing knee osteoarthritis and knee pain, including post-surgical cases. It's essential to tailor the treatment to individual needs, carefully selecting and targeting the most effective points for each patient.

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