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Acupuncture for severe arthritis in both knees

Q:  Can acupuncture help with  someone with severe arthritis in both knees? They are unable to have knee replacements due to having had surgery done on lower legs due to hardening of the arteries,  which results in poor blood flow.  If knee replacements were to be done the healing process would be impaired which could then result in amputation due to infection

A: There is every likelihood that acupuncture treatment may be of benefit to someone with osteoarthritis of the knee. As our factsheet shows

there is a growing body of evidence that acupuncture treatment is as effective as conventional treatment and in many cases more so. In fact, it was a source of some annoyance three years ago, including to the medical acupuncturists with whom we meet regularly, that the NICE guidelines for osteoarthritis of the knee did not include acupuncture as a preferred treatment in spite of the evidence available. Its day may well come, however.

From a Chinese medicine point of view the treatment of joint problems invariably involves not simply dealing with the local area but also the constitution, the system as a whole. It is nearly always the case that local arthritic problems are a result either of continued exposure to poor conditions or a local manifestation of a systemic problem. The most effective treatment will always combine local and systemic approaches, because local treatment alone may not buy long lasting relief.

We are a little concerned that a knee replacement has not been offered because of poor circulation. Although acupuncture treatment is extremely safe, there are some circumstances where a practitioner will take extra care and may even want a word with a patient's GP about what is going on. In treating the diabetic patient, for example, there is always a concern when needling the extremities that any minor wound may not heal quickly, and practitioners often take additional precautions to further reduce the risk. This may even involve using alternate points away from the affected areas to achieve the desired results.

Each person is unique and different, however, and the best advice we can givem, and do usually give, is to visit a BAcC member local to you and ask for a brief face to face assessment. Most members are happy to offer this kind of facility without charge, and a well-trained practitioner, as all our members are, should be able to give a very sound estimate about how much treatment may be necessary, and indeed whether treatment is likely to be beneficial.

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