What Causes Knee Pain?
There are many, many causes of knee pain, some due to chronic overuse, some to acute injuries and some just due to the ageing process:
- surrounding muscle tightness/strains
- inflamed tendons or ligaments
- acute injuries such as torn ligaments or cartilage
- osteoarthritis and joint deterioration
The wear and tear of many years of walking, running, jumping, dancing etc. can put immense strain on our knees and lucky is the person who doesn’t have some knee pain at some point in their life.
However, that is not to say that leading a sedentary lifestyle will result in no knee problems, in all likelihood the opposite!! Exercise will strengthen the muscles, tendons and ligaments that support the knee joint. In fact recent studies have shown that runners are LESS likely to develop osteoarthritis of the knee than sedentary people.
Let’s Have A Quick Look At The Knee Joint
The knee joint is a hinge joint that connects the femur to the tibia via the patella. The fibula does not directly connect but also helps support the knee since it connects to the ankle along with the tibia.
The quadriceps, hamstring, adductor, and sartorius muscle groups all connect around the knee from above, while the calf (gastrocnemius & soleus), popliteus, plantaris, and peroneal muscles connect from below around the knee. Tightness in any of these muscles can cause knee pain because tight muscles pull on the joints they attach to and alter their structure which in this case can result in knee pain.
A common example is a tight quadriceps muscle causing runner’s knee which can affect the patella or outer knee. This happens because when the quadriceps muscles tighten or shorten, they bring the knee and hip closer together which pulls on the knee joint and causes discomfort.
There are several ligaments in the knee that can get injured or overused as well. This can be due to an acute injury such as an ACL tear or due to excess strain possibly from muscle imbalance or overuse.
How Acupuncture Can Help Knee Pain
There is much research to show that acupuncture is an effective treatment for knee pain, including that caused by osteoarthritis and in some cases is better than pharmaceutical management (i.e. ibuprofen and diclofenac.)
How does it work?
For one, acupuncture promotes an anti-inflammatory response. Additionally, it releases endogenous opioid endorphins which help relieve pain. Many times chronic pain medication fails to alleviate the pain of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, and acupuncture may be a great solution.
Some of the ways that acupuncture helps with knee pain include:
● decrease inflammation
● reduce pain
● increase range of motion
● allow you to participate in more activities
Acupuncture can also help knee pain by identifying and releasing tight muscles and trigger points.
What Is Involved In a Treatment?
Your treatment will be tailored to meet your individual pattern of symptoms and will aim to treat the root cause of your knee pain. Although there are some commonly used acupuncture points for knee pain, it is unlikely that your treatment will be exactly the same as someone else’s.
Sometimes the points used will be ‘local’ i.e. near or around the knee and sometimes they will be on other parts of the body, seemingly nothing to do with the knee – but that’s the magic of acupuncture!
It is very difficult to say how many treatments will be needed. It depends on how long the problem has lasted for, how serious it is, whether your job aggravates the problem between treatments etc. Generally the longer you’ve had a problem, the longer it will take. Problems that are more muscular in origin will respond more quickly (and will probably resolve fully) than problems involving the bone. Issues involving bone wear and tear may need ongoing maintenance treatments.
Are you thinking of trying acupuncture to help with your symptoms? If so then please get in touch:
Get in touch with Eileen here, by phone, by email or by booking a free 15 minute phone consultation:
Call on 07773332553