Content originally published on www.balancepointokanagan.com
Are Your Knees Killing You?
Chronic knee pain can come with a wide variety of western diagnoses. Osteoarthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, Baker’s cysts, meniscal tears, and torn ligaments are just a few of the many causes of chronic knee pain. For all of these conditions acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help to ensure healthy mobility throughout our lives so that we can fully enjoy our fabulous Kelowna lifestyle.
Surgeries and knee replacements are becoming more and more common and in many cases provide a good solution to the pain and loss of mobility a bad knee can bring. These interventions provide no guarantee of success however, and we have had many patients at our Kelowna clinic who’ve had knee replacements and had no relief in pain at all. Sometimes the pain has even become worse after the operation. Another negative about knee replacements most people are unaware of is there is about a .25% chance you won’t survive the thirty days following the surgery. Currently the the mortality rate for a total knee replacement is about 1 in 400. Not terrible odds I suppose, however, at the time of writing it's about the same as a middle aged person not surviving the coronavirus. Infections and blood clots are just a few of the possible complications that may arise. Another downfall to think about is that artificial knees are temporary and may need to be replaced every ten to twenty years.
Interestingly, current research has discovered a relationship between knee pain and mortality from every other cause. Those with knee pain had a 15% greater chance of death from all other causes. Shocking studies like these suggest that one of the most important things you can do for longevity is make sure you don’t have knee pain!
I find this study truly fascinating as the acupuncture points we generally use to treat knee pain relate to the lung, heart, and liver. Cardiopulmonary disease gets nearly 30% of us in the end. Cancer, how I view it in Chinese medicine and acupuncture theory, relates greatly to the lungs, gets another 21%. The liver has a whole host of functions including protein metabolism and regulating cholesterol levels. In acupuncture and Chinese medicine theory it maintains the health of tendons and ligaments and regulates circulation to the heart, lungs and entire body. Exactly how and why knee pain relates to mortality isn’t really understood scientifically. My Chinese medicine brain can theorize but, I may save that for another blog. Regardless of mechanism, using this knowledge we can see how important it is to maintain healthy knees not only for our mobility and ability to do the things we love to do in Kelowna, but also to ensure good overall health and a long life.
At Balance Point Acupuncture, chronic knee pain is something we see regularly and in most cases find the results in terms of both pain and function to be very positive. In our experience acupuncture reduces the pain and inflammation rapidly in most cases restoring mobility and joint function.
How does acupuncture work to treat knee pain even when the points used are not located near the knee? In my opinion, the problem is that the knee joint is not straight or aligned properly. A quick google image search for “Knee Osteoarthritis Xray” will show a bunch of pictures of the knees that have shifted or look like they are leaning to one side. When your knee joint isn’t aligned there will be uneven weight distribution and, as a consequence, rubbing of the cartilage in the joint which then leads to inflammation, pain, swelling, bone spurs, and eventually joint damage. You may be told “bone on bone” as the cartilage in your knee becomes worn away.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can greatly reduce the pain, and swelling as well as increase the mobility of sore knees. From our experience acupuncture balances the signals to your nervous system to the muscles and connective tissue that stabilize and realign your knee joint reducing uneven weight distribution and improving joint function. Furthermore, acupuncture can increase circulation and healing to the joint itself. Besides acupuncture, we also like to use a classical Chinese herbal formula called “dang gui nian tong tang” which increases circulation and speeds healing to any joint in the lower body, especially the knees.
Kelowna is such a beautiful place with so many activities to enjoy. It is so important to take care of our bodies, especially our knees, so that we can long enjoy our beautiful Okanagan Valley.