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Many of us are trying to lead an active life style. Whether you are a high school elite athlete hoping for that college scholarship or a 50-something weekend warrior, when you get off the couch your risk of a knee injury increases.
Although knees are generally strong, stable joints, knee injuries are common in any activity which requires quick movements where you step and pivot. These can include basketball, soccer, football, tennis, racquetball, and others. Knee injuries can also occur during activities which require repetitive movement such as running and bicycling. People over age 40 remember their friends breaking ankles while skiing, but with modern equipment, it is the knees which take most of the torque force of a fall.
There are several factors besides choice of activity which increase the likelihood of a knee injury. Being overweight adds a measure of stress to the knee joints. Flat feet or overly high arches can alter the way forces are applied to the whole leg during walking or running, and can make you more susceptible to knee injuries. Many people have muscle strength imbalances between the four muscles of the thigh called the quadriceps. When the inner thigh muscles are weaker than the outer thigh muscles it affects the amount of pressure applied to the menisci (small cartilage discs in the knee joint which serve as shock absorbers) and can increase the risk of injury to a meniscus or the ligaments attached to the meniscus. Quadriceps muscles which are too tight can affect the way the knee cap moves.
Knee injuries can be as simple as a slight strain which causes pain with or without visible swelling, or as severe as the rupturing of one or more ligaments. Some of these injuries require surgery to restore joint stability, but many of them do not. Conventional non-surgical treatment of knee injuries typically includes anti-inflammatory medication, pain- relieving medication, a period of rest, and physical therapy.
Whether or not conventional care is required, acupuncture can be profoundly helpful in relieving the pain and inflammation associated with minor knee injuries. A combination of acupuncture and focused exercise can help to restore muscle balance to speed healing and prevent future injury.
If your injury is bad enough to require surgery, a few acupuncture treatments before the surgery can go a long way towards improving surgical outcome. Acupuncture relieves muscle spasm, decreases inflammation, improves blood flow to injured tissue, and helps to relieve pre-surgical anxiety. After surgery, acupuncture can help again to relieve inflammation and pain. Less pain means more active participation in physical rehabilitation programs, which leads to a faster and more complete recovery.
If you or someone you know has injured a knee, call me at (619)772-4002 for a free phone consultation to discuss how acupuncture can help!