Treating the root of the issue
Acupuncturists look to understand the root cause of knee pain, rather than simply using short-lasting techniques to relieve the pain. It is only by uncovering and treating the root cause that one truly addresses the issue, leading to long lasting relief. In addition, by uncovering the underlying reason behind our symptoms, we come to a greater understanding of how to prevent them in the future.
How acupuncture works
The way that acupuncture addresses knee pain is twofold. First, it stimulates your body’s healing systems to immediately decrease inflammation and relieve pain in the short term. Second, it helps you to be more clear in observing your pain when it again arises, which allows you to understand what in your day to day routine is adding to your discomfort. This is known as listening to your body’s wisdom. In acupuncture theory, it is understood that your symptoms are your body communicating with you, telling you how best to take care of yourself and what in your daily life is detracting from your health. Through listening to your symptoms with this understanding and the increased clarity boost that the acupuncture treatment gives you, you and your acupuncturist can make a plan of simple lifestyle changes that decrease the wear and tear on your knee and prevent further pain in the future.
There are two kinds of lifestyle changes that your acupuncturist will discuss with you: simply, adding beneficial activities to your day or halting unfavorable activities. The former could involve such additions as an anti-inflammatory diet, stretching before and/or after exercise, gentle exercises such as yoga, tai chi, or qi gong, self-massage, or Epsom salt baths. The latter depends on what kind of activities you do throughout your day, and the extent to which these activities are involved in your pain. Your acupuncturist may discuss doing these activities less frequently, for less time each session, or in a slightly altered format. Depending on the nature of the pain, these changes may be recommended as temporary changes or permanent lifestyle shifts.
Knee pain in Five Element Acupuncture
The Water Element
Let’s now take a moment to look at the functional systems that are involved in knee pain, according to Chinese Medicine. The functional systems that are involved in knee pain are the Kidney and Bladder systems. It is important to note that these terms refer to entire functional systems in Chinese Medicine, and not just the organ that the name commonly denotes. Kidney and Bladder together are akin to your body’s ‘battery pack’, as they contain and dole out the energy you need for your day, week, year, etc. Oftentimes, knee pain is a sign that these systems are out of balance. One can use the metaphor of a bank account to understand how Kidney and Bladder function in and out of balance.
The Banking Metaphor
In Chinese Medicine, it is understood that your body has both a savings and a checking account. Your savings account consists of the ‘life energy’, or qi, that you have for your entire lifetime. This account holds the “prenatal qi” that you are born with, and cannot be added to after birth. Once this kind of qi is gone, so are you. Your checking account, on the other hand, is an account to which you add and from which you take on a day to day basis. Your body generally keeps enough qi in this checking account to make it through one day. This amount comes from a minimal amount shifted over from your saving account, as well as qi that you make on a daily basis from food and breath. As a side note, your sleep plays an integral role in your body’s ability to make qi from food and breath. Drinking water also plays an integral role in the health of your Kidneys and Bladder.
When Kidney and Bladder are in health, this is how your body functions: a minimal amount of qi is taken from your saving account for the day, and through good sleep, good food, and healthy breathing you build up enough qi in your checking account for the entire day. When the Kidney and Bladder are out of balance, though, this amount of qi is not enough, and more must be taken from your savings account to make up the difference. Remember, your savings account can never be replenished, so this is not the ideal situation for your body. Your body knows the appropriate amount of qi to be used throughout the day so as to not have to draw from savings. If you listen to your body’s signals, they will tell you when to stop pushing, when to rest, when to eat, when to ‘take a breather’. It is when you do not listen to your body’s subtle signals to do these things that you end up having to draw from your savings account of qi. Over time, doing this again and again is one way that your Kidneys and Bladder come to be out of balance. Common signs of this are knee and low back pain.
Your symptoms are your teachers
In the same way that acupuncture helps you to be more aware of your knee pain, it will also help you to be more aware of your body’s signals regarding the amount of qi in your checking account. Again, these signals tell you when to slow down, rest, eat something, take a breather, or nap. Listening to these signals in your body significantly decreases the wear and tear on your system, helping your body to be able to handle stress as it arises, and before it compounds into more serious symptoms.
This is not to say that all knee pain is a sign of the Kidneys and Bladder being out of balance. There are of course other factors that may be involved. It is nonetheless important to listen to your body, as your body’s wisdom holds the key to better health and wellness in the long term.
Acupuncture for knee pain is simple and effective in the short term, and in the long term this treatment and the therapy associated with it is an invaluable way to take care of yourself for the long haul. If you're interested in learning more about acupuncture, take a look at About Acupuncture or How Acupuncture Works. If you'd like to learn more about Wisdom Traditions Acupuncture, you can read About Us or Our Philosophy. If you have any additional questions, feel free to Contact Us. Or you can Schedule an Appointment Online.