Integrative Medicine and Knee Pain

May 13, 2019 Joe Brady

About 18% of Americans report chronic knee pain. Recent research at NCCIH shows that several mind/body approaches in integrative medicine can be effective in the treatment of osteoarthritis in the knee. Acupuncture, T’ai Chi and massage therapy offer a safe, natural and effective way to alleviate knee pain and prevent further damage. Learn to relieve your own aches & pains without drugs.

Bing Ji: what is going on ?

Over the years the knees can take quite a beating. Keeping your weight under control, proper posture, body mechanics and regular exercise are essential to keeping your knees functional for a lifetime.

Regular low impact Exercise

Properly done a regular physical activity program can improve cartilage and bone tissue health and decrease joint swelling and pain. Regular exercise can also help you maintain better function and a healthy weight (which reduces pressure on your knees). Choose low-impact activities, such as walking, water exercise, and  Tai Chi Chuan.  Recent studies have shown T’ai Chi to be effective in treating knee osteoarthritis. By exercising slowly you can stregnthen the knee without risking injuring if further.

Wind, a Change in the Weather

Painful Obstruction Syndrome (Bi) or Arthritis in TCM, is considered an invasion of external pathogenic factors such as Wind, Cold or Dampness. A sudden change of weather and the inability of the joints to adapt to it, rather than actual wind. 

Aging and arthritis

Another very important predisposing factor is aging, an underlying deficiency of Blood or Yin which leads to malnourishment of the channels. In treatment, it is important not   only to expel Wind, Cold or Damp, but also to nourish Blood or Yin.

Stress makes it worse

Emotional problems are also contributing factors in the origin of Painful Obstruction Syndrome either by causing stagnation of Qi or by causing depletion of Qi and Blood.


A Chinese Medicine practitioner can use several stronger techniques if self help is not enough. Acupuncture, Guasha, Cupping, Electrostim and Moxa, as appropriate, 7 star and TDP all O.K. A 2012 combined analysis of data from several studies indicated that acupuncture can be helpful and a reasonable option to consider for OA pain. A 2013 analysis using different statistical methods also concluded that acupuncture may help relieve knee OA pain.

Knee Pain Self Help

Dragon Tiger Fighting Formula for Pain

Taoist warm current meditation also known as Qi Breathing Hold acupressure points and rub 9 times at each of the three levels

Superficial – at the surface of the skin

Middle Level – halfway down to the bone

Deep level – Press all the way down to the bone

Inhale – Press, Rolling, Scrub – Ashi Pts. 6x

Exhal –  Flat palm emit Qi, 9x

With each iteration pain will subside some.

On Ashi, local or distal points, Rub Up inside Leg as inhale, Rub Down outside Leg on exhale

 Buddha’s triangle

St 35, St 44, Heding, Du Bi, Xiyan, Gb 34, Sp 9

Herbal Formulas

Wandering Bi, Wind Obstructing channels

Du Huo Ji Sheng Wan, or Guan jie yan wan (hot or cold), 

Cold painful Bi Obstructing Channels- (aches & pains, warming invigorating), 

Topical Linaments

Dit da jiao,

Shang shi zhi tong gao, 

Zheng Gu shui.  Warms the Channels.

Moxa patch warms for 10 hours, 

Damp fixed Bi Obstructing Channels 

Shentong Zhu Yu Tang (Damp Bi Chronic)

Xiao huo luo dan (w-c phlegm bi poor circulation), add St 36, Sp 5 . 

Wind/Heat Bi Obstructing Channels-

White Monkey balm, White Flower oil, Cold 

Feng Shih hsiao tong wan (heat bi (reumatoid arthritis) with deformities and tendonitis.)

 Clear heat with ashi, local and distal points Du 14, Li 11.

Damp Heat Obstructing Channels-

Rarely joint pain can be caused by an infection. If you are running a fever with your joint pain you need to go to the Doctor.

Web Education Resources

Read More

ACSM, Exercise is Medicine EIM’s Your Prescription for Health flier series provides information and recommendations for exercising safely with a variety of health conditions. CDC

Exercise advice for osteoarthritis