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Aching Knee? Try Acupuncture for Relief

Many studies support acupuncture's pain-relieving effects

Contributor: Jamie Starkey, LAc, Lead Acupuncturist, Integrative Medicine

“Can you help me with my knee pain?” This is often a question I’m asked when someone discovers I’m an acupuncturist.

Knee pain is a common and often debilitating condition that affects people of all ages. 

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Knee pain can be caused by several different factors, including injury and arthritis, which also can cause stiffness and decreased range of motion. These ultimately affect your mobility and quality of life. Despite conventional treatment options (such as medication, surgery and physical therapy), patients can sometimes still suffer from knee pain. Luckily, another option can be explored: acupuncture.

No two patients treated alike

Acupuncture is a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with a rich history and lineage dating back thousands of years to ancient China. In this treatment, an acupuncturist inserts hair-thin needles into the body to promote pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects. This process is truly a medical art. Each clinician uses various approaches, techniques and styles to address knee pain; no two patients are treated the same. 

Acupuncture’s proven benefits

Conventional medicine has begun paying closer attention to acupuncture. The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) addresses acupuncture in its recommended clinical practice guidelines as a non-drug treatment option under investigation.

Numerous clinical studies have supported the pain-relieving effect of acupuncture on knee pain. Research shows that along with promoting an anti-inflammatory effect, acupuncture releases endogenous opioid endorphins, the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals. In addition to decreasing pain and inflammation, acupuncture also is found to increase range of motion in the knee joint and to decrease joint stiffness. 

Acupuncture is now available in many U.S. hospitals and private acupuncturists’ offices. No matter which you choose, your initial appointment with an acupuncturist will usually be the longest visit. You will need to undergo a detailed assessment from which an appropriate treatment plan is developed. 

Team treatment sometimes best

For patients who suffer from knee pain, a multidisciplinary approach is oftentimes optimal. Acupuncture can easily be incorporated into your conventional treatment plan. The acupuncturist will work in tandem with your physician and rehabilitation specialists. If you are a knee pain sufferer, speak with your provider about integrative treatment options like acupuncture. You may just find relief!

Jamie Starkey, LAc, is Lead Acupuncturist with Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine. She sees patients at Cleveland Clinic’s main campus, at Cleveland Clinic Sports Health in Garfield Heights and in the Wellness Institute at our Lyndhurst Campus.

To make an appointment with Jamie or any of our other acupuncturists, please call 216.986.HEAL (4325).

Tags: acupuncture, integrative medicine, knee pain, pain awareness month
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  • Carl Bartecchi, MD

    Since when has acupuncture been proven to be more that a placebo. It must be embarrassing for the Rheumatologists at the Cleveland Clinic to see acupuncture being offered at their institution. Of course, it does make money for the clinic and that is why the administrators love it.
    Carl Bartecchi, MD