• Cat Calhoun

Knee Pain and Injury

Updated: Jul 14, 2019

These protocols target the area of the knees for relief from pain. Add points intelligently based on where the pain is coming from - arthritis, strain and injury, deficiencies, etc. Do your "leg work" to find out which channels are involved.


Bilateral knee pain - any origin

Needle the right side for women, the left side for men. You don't need to needle both sides. The energy generated will target the knee area not just a side.

Unilateral knee pain - any origin

If the patient's knee pain is on one side, needle it this way:

  • Contralateral to the painful knee: Huo Ying and Huo Zhu

  • Same side as the pain Lu 5, Li 11, PC 6

One Master Tung practitioner thoughtfully asked why these weren't reversed with the contralateral side being Lu 5, Li 11 and PC 6. This is a great question. Here's my answer:


The Lu 5 and Li 11 points are mirror imaged points for the knee. PC 6 is an empirical point for knee pain. But, Huo Ying is also a go-to point for knee pain also, so you'd think it would be used as a guiding point to the knee. In this case it is not. This uses Huo Ying and Huo Zhu as a kind of "lower Ling Gu and Da Bai." Ling Gu and Da Bai are often used together as a kind of jet engine, bringing a lot of Qi and Blood together then the guide points tell all that energy where to go. So in this case, Huo Ying and Huo Zhu are the jet engine on the contralateral side to the pain and Lu 5, Li 11, and PC 6 direct all that energy to the knee.


Knee pain from strain or sprain

Knee strains and sprains usually involve injury or overstretch to either one of the following three ligaments. These patients may or may not have seen their doctor. If they have and have had imaging done on the knee, they might have a diagnosis and images to share with you. If the injury involves a small tear you may be able to help heal it with acupuncture. Larger tears (generally more than 1cm) will require surgery.

  • ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). This ligament is in the center of the knee crosses internally toward the lateral side of the knee, attaching along the medial side of the lateral epicondyle of the femur. Tears in the ACL could involve the Stomach and Spleen channels if they are deep in the knee, but are often more lateral, possibly involving the Stomach and Gallbladder channels.

  • PCL (posterior cruciate ligament). This ligament starts in the center posterior aspect of the knee and crosses to the medial wall of the medial epicondyle of the femur. Tears or injury at the back of the knee could be Kidney channel related, but if the tear or damage to the PCL is more medial, explore pain in the Liver and Spleen channel as well as Kidney.

  • MCL (medial collateral ligament). This ligament spans the distance between the medial margin of the femur and the medial margin of the tibia. Straight up Spleen and Liver channels usually.

Point Protocol for Knee Sprain and Strain

Notice the use of Huo Ying and Huo Zhu in the protocols above. These function much like Ling Gu and Da Bai do on the hand, moving a lot of Qi and Blood.


Think intelligently about other points you might want to add. Some options might be:

  • Xi Cleft points on the affected channels to help with pain by moving Qi and Blood.

  • Ying spring points on the affected channel to help with any heat, swelling, and stiffness in the region of the knee.

  • Gb 34, the point for tendons and sinews as well.

  • Points on the contralateral elbow, which would mirror the knee. Palpate the associated channel points around the elbow to find the most reactive point/s. You can use these to mirror and treat the knee.

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