Acupuncture tends to be a last resort for many, yet it should be an integral part of any knee pain treatment.

I’m going to show you why.

If nothing else, it is shown to reduce knee pain. Yet, a skilled practitioner will also use bodywork therapies and Chinese medicine to help heal, reduce inflammation and specifically target the root cause that is creating the injury.


Nothing helps prove that point more than actual medical studies proving the effectiveness of such treatments.

That and, of course case, stories of real life people… like one patient of mine who agreed to share their results:

“I recently injured my knee (walking became a big problem!) and went in for treatment. The office setting is very comfortable and Dr Kirkham immediately put me at ease with a thorough examination – he asked a lot of questions and offered a lot of explanation to help me understand what was going on.

The treatment went very smoothly and by that evening the swelling has subsided substantially and I could hobble around again. (Although he recommended that I not hobble around, of course…)”

– CG, Seattle

But like I said, there’s nothing like research studies to further prove the efficacy of acupuncture on knee pain. And I have three studies to share to prove just that.

Study 1: Acupuncture Treatment of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

The scourge of runners everywhere – the dreaded Runner’s Knee.

So many runners struggle with this painful condition. And while treating the source like strengthening muscle imbalances, fixing running form, and the right stretches and exercises are all critical for sustainably treating this injury, acupuncture can do a lot to reduce pain and get you back on your feet faster.

Roar Jensen, R.P.T., O.M.T., Lic.Ac., and his team studied the effects of 4 weeks of acupuncture treatments on people with patellofemoral pain syndrome. They tracked the results all the way up to a year after starting their treatments.

Throughout the year, they showed increasing pain reduction and knee function compared to the control group, even in the worst case results. As a result, the study results shows acupuncture as an alternative or complementary treatment of patellofemoral pain syndrome.

Study 2: Acupuncture Provides True Pain Relief in Study

The New York Times reported the results of a team comparing the results of acupuncture compared to “sham acupuncture” and to other pain relief methods on 4 chronic pain conditions:

  • back and neck pain
  • osteoarthritis
  • chronic headache
  • shoulder pain

While Dr. Vickers and his worldwide team of scientists didn’t specifically target the knee, they provided a landmark study of the effects of acupuncture as a treatment for chronic pain in general.

And the results were from a whopping 17,922 patients analyzed.

They found that “Significant differences between true and sham acupuncture indicate that acupuncture is more than a placebo.” In other words, it’s not just in their minds.

How do they know? They compared the results of true acupuncture and “sham acupuncture” so everyone in those study groups thought they were getting real acupuncture. The only difference was that the needling in “sham acupuncture” was totally random or using fake needles!

Since everyone thought they were or could be getting true acupuncture treatments, there isn’t a placebo effect (when the results are all in their mind).

Unlike “sham acupuncture, true acupuncture is very specific. Every needle is placed in a very specific spot, in a very specific way, for a very specific result. Like a surgeon without a knife, acupuncture is all about precision. And not without reason. They are targeting very specific spots not on the skin, but in the body, in the muscle, at the right depth and location to create the desired effect.

And yet these needles are usually barely noticeable!

This study proved the positive effects of proper acupuncture techniques – only one tool in our arsenal. We combine the effects of acupuncture with bodywork therapies, cold laser, and Chinese medicine and herbs to all cause particular effects in the body.

Study 3: Acupuncture a Complementary Treatment for Knee Osteoarthritis Pain Relief and Function

Our third study on acupuncture for knee pain was based on osteoarthritis of the knee, a condition associated with pain, stiffness, and swelling.

Brian M. Berman, MD, and his team studied 570 patients using acupuncture and “sham acupuncture.”

The first significant different was improved function at 8 weeks. Then when assessing at 26 weeks, they found “the true acupuncture group experienced significantly greater improvement than the sham group” in both function score and pain score.

Their conclusion? Acupuncture helps with both function and pain relief in the knee as a complementary treatment for their knee osteoarthritis.

Ready to Try it for Yourself?

The only real proof for you is your experience. So go ahead and give it a try.

Even if you are afraid of needles, modern acupuncture has alternative methods of providing your treatment results. Yet, the acupuncture needles are so thin many don’t even notice them aside from a slight warm sensation.

Whatever knee condition you face, you now see how acupuncture can help with both relieving your pain and improving your knee function again.

And you see how it is a perfect complement to the treatments or rehab you are already going through.

It could mean the difference between getting back out running, backpacking, tennis, crossfit, even just walking sooner than you thought. It could mean getting back to going about your day without giving your knee a second thought again. And it could mean once again not thinking twice about going up or down the stairs.

With the right treatment, you can get there.

In Seattle? Come on in for a treatment to see me (Dr Derek Kirkham). We’ll dig to the root of your condition and address the underlying cause while relieving your pain.

Depending on your insurance carrier your treatments may very well be covered (check with your insurance).