Acupuncture – a Natural, Holistic Knee Pain Solution in Melbourne

By: Dr Jason Chong (Traditional East Asian Medicine Physician)

Knee pain has the ability to stop you moving forward in life. Knee injuries can be an extremely debilitating and frustrating experience. It can stop you from daily activities and doing things that you love, like running, walking up stairs or even just standing for too long. Let’s have a look at some of the issues around knee discomfort and ways to support you in the management of this challenging issue.

What is the effect of a knee injury on a persons lifestyle?

Knee pain can have a significant impact on a person’s lifestyle. It can cause difficulty with every day activities such as walking, standing up, and climbing stairs. It can also impede physical activity such as jogging, cycling, swimming and aerobics. People suffering from chronic knee pain may be limited in the activities they are able to participate in, or they may need to modify their activities to accommodate the pain.

What is the prevalence of Knee pain in Australia?

Knee soreness is a common health concern, particularly among the elderly population in Australia. According to the AIHW National Health Survey 2017-18, one in five Australians aged 65 or over reported having knee pain in the previous four weeks. This was lower than other musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain (35%) and neck pain (27%). In terms of prevalence by gender, 11% of men and 23% of women had knee pain in the previous four weeks.

What are the risk factors for Knee pain?

The risk factors for knee pain include age, injury, overuse, obesity, genetics, and underlying medical conditions. Age can increase the likelihood of developing knee pain due to changes in the bones and joints. Injuries such as sprains or ligament tears can cause inflammation in the joint which can lead to chronic pain. Overuse of the knee joint can also result in pain due to wear and tear on the cartilage and tendons. Obesity can increase pressure on the joints, leading to pain, while underlying medical conditions such as arthritis or gout can also cause knee pain. A previous injury increase the likelihood of a recurrence of issues.

What are the common causes of Knee pain?

Knee pain is a very common symptom that can have many causes. Some of the most common causes of knee tenderness include:

  • Arthritis: Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two of the most common types of arthritis that affect the articular cartilage in the knee. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition caused by wear and tear on the joint over time, while rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation and joint damage.
  • Tendonitis: Tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendons (patellar tendon or quadriceps tendon) around the knee joint, which can cause pain and stiffness. It is often caused by overuse or repetitive motion of the knee joint.
  • Meniscus tear: The meniscus is a piece of cartilage between the bones in the knee joint, and a tear can be caused by twisting the knee or direct trauma to the joint. This can cause intense pain in the knee, as well as swelling and instability.
  • Ligament injury: These injuries occur when a ligament is stretched too far or tears due to overuse, trauma, or degeneration. Common ligament injuries that cause knee inflammation and pain include sprains and tears affecting the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament) and LCL (Lateral Collateral Ligament).
  • Ankle sprain: An ankle sprain is an injury to one or more of the ligaments that hold your ankle together, which can cause pain in the knee due to referred pain.
  • Bursitis: Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that provides cushioning between the bones and muscles in the knee joint. It can cause pain and swelling in the knee.

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How does knee pain present?

Knee symptoms can present in a variety of ways, depending on the underlying cause. Common presentations of knee pain include:

  • Joint pain or tenderness when moving or touching the joint
  • Swelling and stiffness
  • Reduces range of motion in the knee
  • Redness or warmth around the joint
  • Difficulty walking, climbing stairs, or standing up
  • A popping or grinding sound when moving the joint
  • Weakness in the leg muscles near the knee joint
  • Instability, which may cause a person to feel as if their knee will give way

Tips for the prevention of Knee pain

Some tips to help you avoid knee pain include:

  • Maintain a healthy weight: If you have excess body weight, shedding some kilos can reduce the amount of stress and strain on your joints.
  • Exercise regularly: Doing regular low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, biking, or yoga can help strengthen the muscles around the knee joint and reduce the risk of injury.
  • Stretch regularly: Regularly stretching the muscles and tendons around the knee joint can help keep them flexible and reduce strain on the joint.
  • Wear supportive footwear: Wearing shoes with good arch support can help reduce stress on the joints and muscles in your feet, legs, and hips.
  • Take breaks from activities that put strain on your knees: If you do activities that require jumping or running, take regular breaks to allow your body to rest and recover.

What are Knee pain treatment options?

Options available for the management of knee pain include:

1. Medication: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce pain and inflammation in the knee joint.

2. Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can help strengthen the muscles around the knee joint, improve flexibility, and decrease pain.

3. Corticosteroid Injections: Corticosteroid injections can reduce inflammation and pain in the knee joint.

4. Acupuncture: Acupuncture can help reduce pain and inflammation in the knee joint by stimulating specific points on the body with needles.

5. Chinese Medicine: Herbal formulas, moxibustion, cupping, dietary therapy, and other forms of Chinese medicine can also be used to treat knee pain.

6. Knee Surgery : In some cases a medical procedure such as surgery may be needed to repair a torn ligament or meniscus. 

7. Knee Replacements: Consultation with a knee specialist is recommend in severe cases to determine if this is necessary.

Is acupuncture for Knee pain an effective treatment option?

High quality research into the use of acupuncture in the management of knee pain includes a systematic review by Liu et al. (2015) which found that “acupuncture appears to be effective in the management of knee pain, with better effects observed in the short-term than in the long-term”.

Another systematic review by Yang et al. (2016) concluded that “the findings of this meta-analysis support that acupuncture is more effective than sham acupuncture or no acupuncture in reducing knee pain in adults with osteoarthritis”.

There is also high quality research into the use of Gua Sha and cupping for knee pain such as the study by Tang et al. (2020) which concluded that “Gua Sha and cupping therapy can reduce pain in people with knee osteoarthritis, suggesting that these therapies may be used as adjunctive therapy for knee osteoarthritis”.

Moxibustion research by Yuan et al. (2019) concluded that “Moxibustion treatment for Knee Osteoarthritis is more effective than the positive control (western medicine) or negative control (placebo moxibustion or no treatment or UC), and there were fewer adverse reactions to moxibustion”.

At Dantian Health clinic in Melbourne’s inner north suburb of Thornbury, we provide expert care and a holistic approach to support you in the management and recovery from knee pain. Please contact us for further information about how an acupuncture treatment plan with our health professionals can help you.

Dantian Health – Melbourne Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Clinic

Reclaim your health and restore vitality with responsive, holistic healthcare


  1. Liu, J., Wang, C., Yan, Y., & Li, S. (2015). Acupuncture for the Treatment of Knee Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2015, 845203 .
  2. Yang, C., Liu, J., Qin, B., & Li, S. (2016). Acupuncture for Knee Pain in Adults with Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of   Controlled Trials. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2016, 1-9.
  3. Tang, H., Wang, X., Zhang, J., & Wang, J. ( 2020). Effects of Gua Sha and Cupping Therapy on Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2020, 1-18.
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Dr Jason Chong (Traditional East Asian Medicine Physician)

Traditional East Asian Medicine Physician. Educator.

Jason is the owner and principal practitioner at Dantian Health, providing consultations for Classical Chinese Herbal Medicine and Japanese Acupuncture in Melbourne, Australia.

He is a qualified acupuncture physician, Classical Chinese herbal medicine clinician, shiatsu practitioner and tuina therapist, Oriental therapies educator and director at the Australian Shiatsu College.

Jason's qualifications include:

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