Knee pain is in the top 5 most common reasons patients seek out acupuncture in my clinic. Patients are always suprised at how quick and effective acupuncture can be at alleviating knee pain, even when they have been told they have arthritis, need surgery or that their knees are "bone-on-bone". In this article, we will discuss why conventional methods often don't work and how acupuncture may be the most effective solution in the treatment of knee pain.
Why conventional methods don't work
"Approximately 700,000 knee replacement procedures are performed annually in the US. This number is projected to increase to 3.48 million procedures per year by 2030" (n.d.). Despite the huge increase in the amount of knee surgeries performed, the results don't justify the popularity of the procedure. For many patients, the recovery time is difficult, and due to compensation, patients often suffer with hip and back pain as a result. Complications can also include pain, hematomas, blood clots, numbness or painful scarring, stiffness and infection.
In a randomized controlled trial involving 180 patients with knee osteoarthritis, knee surgery proved no more effective than a placebo! Patients in this study were divided into two groups, half receiving the real surgery, half receiving sham (fake) surgery in which only small incisions were made. "At no point did either of the intervention groups report less pain or better function than the placebo group" ("A Controlled Trial of Arthroscopic Surgery for Osteoarthritis of the Knee, NEJM"). Now for a some patients, surgery may be the only option; however, many surgeries can be avoided when patients seek acupuncture as their first option.
While cortisone injections may provide temporary relief, there are many side-effects. Cortisone works by supressing your immune system so your body does not create inflammation; however, lowering your immune system can definitely have consequences. Other side-effects include: crystalization of cortisone in the joints causing increased pain and inflammation, elevated blood sugar and skin discoloration. In addition, cortisone injections in the knee can actually weaken your tendons, making the original problem worse in the long run.
Why acupuncture is the best option
Using MRI studies, acupuncture has been shown to actually repair damaged cartilage in the knees in patients with arthritis in as little as 4 weeks of treatment. In a study comparing acupuncture and physical therapy, acupuncture proved to be significantly more effective in reducing pain, stiffness and physical function in patients with knee pain (White, 2018).
What we often forget is that the body has its own innate ability to heal itself, and this is exactly what acupuncture helps to stimulate. Acupuncture improves blood flow, reduces inflammation and aids in the healing of cartilage, ligaments and tendons in the knee. The best part, is it does this all without harmful side-effects! So before you think that surgery or other invasive procedures are your only option, come see what acupuncture can do for you! To schedule your initial exam, call 321-972-2940. We would love to help you put an end to your knee pain, avoid surgery and help you return to the activities that you enjoy doing!
A Controlled Trial of Arthroscopic Surgery for Osteoarthritis of the Knee | NEJM. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa013259
White, A. L. (2018, March 19). Acupuncture Repairs Knee Arthritis Cartilage Damage. Retrieved from http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1836-acupuncture-repairs-knee-arthritis-cartilage-damage