Acupuncture has been used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to relieve pain and treat various health conditions for thousands of years. It’s only recently been considered a mainstream treatment by Western medicine.

Major health organizations have incorporated acupuncture into their treatment protocols over the last decade.

The Joint Commission revised guidelines to include acupuncture in nonpharmacological pain management strategies in 2015, and the American Society of Clinical Oncology followed suit in 2016 by adding acupuncture to its list of pain management strategies for adult cancer survivors, according to 2021 research.

The American College of Physicians even included acupuncture as one of its first-line therapy recommendations for acute and chronic low back pain in 2017. By 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services approved the use of acupuncture for treating chronic lower back pain.

More studies have shown the benefits of acupuncture, according to a 2021 research review. As a result, you may be wondering how exactly this therapy works and whether it can be used for health conditions like osteoarthritis of the knee. Osteoarthritis is a major cause of disability, affecting 22.9 percent of people over age 40 around the world.

This article explains how acupuncture can be used to treat knee pain, and how effective it is in managing it.

Acupuncture is a therapy based in Chinese medicine. In it, a trained practitioner uses needles to pierce your skin in specific areas that are said to connect to energy points and channels throughout your body.

The goal of this therapy is to stimulate the flow of qi. Qi is an energy force believed to flow throughout your body and promote good health and well-being when balanced and unblocked.

The body has several processes that can be activated by the use of acupoints.

For example, acupuncture has been found to reduce or relieve pain by increasing blood flow to the areas where needles are inserted. This needle prick and increased blood flow can cause an anti-inflammatory response in your body and trigger the release of “feel good” body chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. The endorphins released after acupuncture may decrease pain.

People have used the Chinese medicine to relieve pain.

When it comes to treating osteoarthritis of the knee, studies have shown benefits without the side effects of other medications for pain relief, according to a 2021 research review.

A licensed acupuncturist can help you find the best place to place the needles. The acupoints can be close to the knee or far from the knee.

Proximal acupoints for knee osteoarthritis
Acupuncture points for knee osteoarthritis. Illustration by Jason Hoffman.

Plan on spending about 90 minutes at your first acupuncture appointment. You’ll spend most of this time discussing your symptoms with the acupuncturist and learning what you can expect from the treatment. Future appointments usually take about 30 to 60 minutes, since you should already be familiar with the process and your acupuncturist.

When your acupuncturist is ready to place needles, they will look for areas that correspond with your symptoms. The needles that are sterile will be inserted into your skin.

You may feel a pinch as the needles are inserted, but this treatment is not usually painful. The number of needles depends on your condition and the style of the therapy you are having.

One 2019 review found that most acupuncturists used between 4 and 12 weeks of sessions, with acupuncture needles in place for between 20 and 30 minutes per session.

If you have a chronic condition, you may not notice results right away. It may take several sessions before you notice the difference.

If you avoid Exercise., stress, or vigorous activities for the rest of the day after your therapy, you may have better results.

How to find a qualified acupuncturist

If you are interested in trying to relieve symptoms of knee osteoarthritis, you should look for a licensed acupuncturist.

One of the best ways to find a qualified acupuncturist is to get a recommendation from a healthcare professional or someone you know who has used the acupuncturist before. When selecting an acupuncturist, ask for references and qualifications.

You can also check a therapist’s certification or licensure by state through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

There is little hard evidence on how effective acupuncture is in treating knee pain, but anecdotal evidence and reports from people who have used it point to a positive effect on pain.

A report from the American Academy of Family Physicians endorses acupuncture for both pain relief and improved physical function, especially when combined with other traditional therapies.

According to a 2019 research review, studies have confirmed that people who’ve used acupuncture for knee osteoarthritis have reported significant improvement in both pain and function after treatment.

Another large study from 2012 on acupuncture use for osteoarthritis found that acupuncture worked so well for every type of pain condition researched that it should be considered to be a reasonable referral option.

The results of your individual treatment for knee osteoarthritis will be dependent on a number of factors.

  • Your overall health.
  • The skill of your doctor.
  • How often do you get treatment?

It is best to rest after your treatment and avoid substances like alcohol and caffeine.

There are things reported as side effects.

  • dizziness
  • It is an infectious disease
  • There was bleeding.
  • allergic reactions
  • It can be burning sensations or tingling.
  • anxiety
  • cough
  • Increased thirst.
  • fatigue
  • There is a high degree of fever.

Although acupuncture is generally considered safe, there have been some serious complications reported, according to a 2015 review that looked at adverse effects of acupuncture in China between 1980 and 2013. These included organ or nerve damage and even broken needles.

If you want to avoid any side effects from the therapy, you should find a licensed acupuncturist with solid recommendations.

The most common way to treat knee osteoarthritis is with drugs.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like ibuprofen are a popular choice, but frequent use of these medications can lead to stomach discomfort and even There was bleeding. problems.

Other treatment options that might offer better long-term relief include:

Osteoarthritis of the knee can be treated with a variety of methods.

There is limited evidence on the benefits of this therapy for osteoarthritis, but several studies have suggested that patients have reported relief after using it.

If you are interested in trying out the therapy, you should speak with your doctor and pick a qualified one. It may take several visits to see a change in your symptoms.