Skip to main content

8 Key Acupuncture Points for Knee Pain and Swelling

Knee pain usually comes with age and in various forms. It can manifest from a simple muscle strain to some arthritis.  Acupuncture can help manage pain along with other natural treatments like Chinese herbs and dietary therapy. Keep scrolling to learn about 8 key acupuncture points for knee pain and swelling. Time to get your life back on track!

What causes knee pain? 

Injuries, inflammation, and several types of arthritis primarily cause knee pain. Check the examples below so you can take the necessary precautions.


Knee injuries can take many different types. Here are a few of the most common:

  • Knee ligament injuries. Your ligaments may become overstretched if you experience sudden twists or too much force on your knee joints. This can happen when you jump repeatedly or stop quickly while running. 
  • Tendon injuries. Anyone can sustain a tendon injury. However, middle-aged athletes who participate in running or jumping sports are more likely to do so. Knee tendon injuries frequently result from falls, direct stress to the knee, and uncomfortable landings during jumps.
  • Dislocation.  A dislocation happens when your knee’s bones are wholly or partially out of alignment. It can be brought on by high-intensity trauma, such as falls, car crashes, and sports-related contact, or by an abnormality in the knee structure.
  • Cartilage tears.  Your cartilage functions as a cushion between your bones, which enables them to move easily. Overuse, muscle weakness, knee misalignment, or a direct hit to the knee can all damage your cartilage.
  • Broken kneecap. A tiny, circular bone, the patella, sits in front of your knee and shields your knee joint. It may break due to a fall or a direct blow to your kneecap, as in an automobile accident. Rarely, an abrupt knee muscle contraction can also damage your kneecap.

Types of Arthritis

Arthritis comes in more than a hundred different varieties. The following types are some of the most likely to impact the knee:

  • Osteoarthritis. Often referred to as degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis is the most prevalent kind of arthritis. It is a wear-and-tear ailment that develops when your knee cartilage ages and deteriorates from use.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. This is the most crippling type of arthritis. It is an autoimmune disorder that can damage virtually any joint, including your knees. Its severity can vary and occasionally flares up even though it is a chronic condition.
  • Septic arthritis.  This happens when a virus or bacteria from another part of your body migrates through your blood to your knee joint and infects it. It can severely damage the cartilage in your knees.  
  • Gout. This condition occurs when high levels of uric acid crystals, aka urate, accumulate in a joint. It most frequently affects the big toe, although it can also happen in the knee. It usually only affects one joint at a time.
  • Pseudogout. This is sometimes confused with gout. It is brought on by calcium-containing crystals that form in the synovial fluid. It most frequently affects the knees.

Symptoms of Knee Pain

Depending on the underlying source of the issue, the site and intensity of knee pain may differ. Symptoms that can go together with knee pain include:

  • Swelling, stiffness, and numbness around the knee
  • Weakness of the knee
  • Warmth or redness throughout the knee
  • Unusual sounds (popping or clicking) when flexing or straightening the knee
  • Inability to bend or straighten the knee or to stand properly

Risk factors for Knee Pain

Several risk factors can increase your risk of experiencing knee issues, such as:

  • Obesity.  Excess weight puts more strain on your knee joints, even during routine activities like walking or climbing stairs. It also hastens the degeneration of your joint cartilage, increasing your risk of osteoarthritis.
  • Previous knee injury. A past knee injury raises your risk of suffering another knee injury.
  • Certain sports. Your knees are more likely to be strained during some sports than others. These include activities like basketball, running, and skiing which involve sudden stops, twists, and turns. 
  • Specific jobs. Occupations that put repetitive tension on the knees, such as housekeeping, farming, and construction, can increase your risk. They require a lot of bending, crouching, standing, lifting, and stair climbing.
  • Lack of muscular strength or flexibility. Your joints are stabilized and protected by strong muscles. You put undue pressure on your knees if you don’t have the muscular power and flexibility to sustain your entire mobility range safely.

acupuncture near me herbs knee pain management osteoarthritis of the knee

How Acupuncture Works for Knee Pain

Knee pain is categorized as “Bi Syndrome” in TCM. This results from the invasion of external pathogenic wind, cold, dampness, and heat attacking the knee joints. The condition is characterized by the blockage of qi (life force) and blood flow in channels called meridians and is generally classified into three. These are:

  • Yang deficiency cold stagnation: may manifest as pain, stiffness, and reduced knee function; exacerbated by cold and relieved by warmth.
  • Kidney essence deficiency: characterized by limited knee movements, dizziness, and tinnitus. 
  • Blood stagnation: primary signs include fixed pain, limited motion range, a dark face, and purplish lips

Traditional Chinese Medicine holds that there are as many as 2,000 acupuncture points on the body that are connected via different pathways and meridians. Your acupuncturist will choose various points based on your symptoms and constitution. By doing so, acupuncture can facilitate the free flow of qi (energy), alleviate pain and swelling, and give the knee and the tissues around it their natural range of motion and functionality. 

Strategically positioned needles help reduce swelling, promote blood flow, and loosen tight muscles. The sensations also send signals from the spinal cord to the brain to release endorphins and enkephalins – the body’s natural painkillers. Cortisol (a hormone that helps regulate inflammation) is also produced.

Indeed, acupuncture can enhance function and quality of life, making it worthwhile to try. Patients who have utilized acupuncture, particularly for knee osteoarthritis, have reported a considerable improvement in pain and function following treatment.

8 Key Acupuncture Points to Relieve Knee Pain

  1. The Calf’s Nose (Stomach 35 or ST 35):  located on the outer indentation, right below the kneecap.
  2. Three Mile Point (Stomach 36 or ST 36): found outside the shinbone and below the kneecap. It’s among the easiest to identify.
  3. Sunny Side of the Mountain (Gallbladder 34 or GB 34): situated at the top of the shinbone and the bottom of the kneecap. It works very well for severe or chronic knee pain.
  4. Shady Side of the Mountain (Spleen 9 or SP 9): As its name suggests, this point is the counterpart of Sunny Side of the Mountain. It is located at the top of the shinbone and inside the knee.
  5. Eye of the Knee (Xiyan): when the knee is flexed, the point is in the depression medial to the patellar ligament
  6. Crane Summit (Heding):  located above the knee, in the depression of the midpoint of the superior patellar border.
  7. Crooked Spring (Liver 8 or LV 8): found at the inner part of the back of the knee where the crease ends when you bend your knee. 
  8. Nourishing Valley (Kidney 10 or KD 10) is situated at the knee crease’s inner edge. It is the Commanding Activity point’s inner side counterpart. 

Is acupuncture FDA-approved? 

A resounding YES! 

In fact, the FDA recognized acupuncture needles as medical devices in 1996, giving acupuncture its first U.S. mark of approval. Since then, research has shown that acupuncture is effective. No wonder the medical world now generally accepts it.

And here’s more! At the 1997 National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference, acupuncture was recommended as a potential alternative to lowering dosages or avoiding medication use. Undeniably, acupuncture has drawn more attention as a knee pain alternative treatment.

Interestingly, medical professionals are now trying to avoid giving patients prescription drugs, especially narcotics, for chronic pain. Even the clinical practice guidelines for physicians in 2019 listed acupuncture as one of the therapies for knee pain

natural remedies for osteoarthritis of the knee healing points acupuncture near me Dr. michelle Iona wellness center Riverhead long island

Chinese Herbal Medicine for Knee Pain

Single Herbs

  • Xu Duan strengthens bones, promotes blood movement, alleviates pain, and reduces swelling. 
  • Nui Xi: may reduce joint swelling, increase bone mineral density,  nourishes the tendons, and eases pain.
  • Du Zhong: the most popular Chinese herb in treating osteoarthritis; controls inflammation and helps with obesity.
  • Chuan Wu: dispels wind, disperses cold, stops pain, and reduces swellings. 
  • Dang Gui supports cartilage healing while preventing cartilage deterioration in osteoarthritis.

Herbal Formulations

  • Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang: dispels windcold-damp. It can reduce pain and stiffness and help improve knee function by nourishing qi and blood.  
  • Zhen Gu Xi Jin Fang: disperses wind-damp, nourishes the liver and kidneys’ yang and blood, binds the bones and ligaments, and moves and supplements the blood.
  • Shu Jing Huo Xue Tang: clears meridians, moves qi and blood, nourishes blood, and removes wind-damp.
  • Juan Bi Tang: moves blood and disperses wind, dampness, and cold to ease the pain. 
  • Danggui Sini Tang warms the channels, dispels cold, unblocks the vessels, and promotes blood flow.

Eating Right for Knee Pain

Foods to Eat:

Below are healthy foods that may help ease your knee pain:

  • Dark Leafy Greens: broccoli, kale, spinach, and collard greens. They help your body make collagen – a crucial component of cartilage that supports joint flexibility. 
  • Fatty Fish: mackerel, salmon, and tuna. They help reduce inflammation.
  • Berries: blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries. They are rich in antioxidants, which can help fight and reduce inflammation. 
  • Nuts: almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, pistachios, and walnuts. They are rich in fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, and other anti-inflammatory nutrients.
  • Garlic and Onions: They have anti-inflammatory compounds that reduce the discomfort associated with some types of arthritis. Plus, they are well known for enhancing immunity.
  • Green Tea:  This beverage contains a natural antioxidant that inhibits the body’s ability to produce specific inflammatory molecules, particularly those linked to arthritis. Additionally, it can help delay cartilage degeneration, extending the joints’ lifespan.

Foods to Skip:

The following are foods to avoid because they can exacerbate your knee pain:

  • Added Sugar – white bread, cereals, pasta, puddings, cakes, soda, and fruit juices. They can increase inflammation.
  • High Salt –  Processed, prepackaged, and frozen foods. They can trigger joint swelling and worsen knee pain.
  • Omega-6 fatty acids – corn, sunflower, and vegetable oils. They can accelerate the production of inflammatory chemicals. 
  • Transfats and saturated fats: baked and processed foods. They can trigger inflammation.

Final Thoughts on Acupuncture for Knee Pain

Are you looking for an effective, drug-free treatment for knee pain? Try acupuncture! It can bring down the swelling and relieve the discomfort by inserting needles in 8 strategic points. So, wait no further! Get in touch with a  trained practitioner who can accurately diagnose your case in its entire context ASAP.