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i have loss of flexion in my left knee caused by some arthritis in joint. No pain but 5 years of compromised mobility and some discomfort. Help

We have been asked about knee problems many times over the years, but those relating to osteoarthritis of the knee focus on the pain, as in this response:

If there is serious osteooarthritic degeneration of the joint, probably the best that one could do with acupuncture treatment is to reduce some of the inflammation. With the underlying condition in severe deterioration unlikely to change, the only issue is how much relief the treatment can offer and how sustainable it may be. This may come down to a question of finances; if the cost of regular treatment is outweighed by the benefits it gives, then it may well be worth pursuing. The chances are, however, that only replacement surgery will make a great difference.

There was a huge trial in Germany some years ago, called the GERAC trial, which involved an assessment of hundreds of thousands of treatments.

The outcomes for osteoarthritis of the knee were particularly impressive, and it was a source of deep annoyance to our medical colleagues that acupuncture was not included in the NICE guidelines because the placebo control scored nearly as well as the real acupuncture. In their view, both were so much better than the conventional treatment that it would still make sense to use acupuncture even as a placebo, but that is not the way of modern healthcare policy.

The best advice that we can give is that you visit a BAcC member local to you and see what they make of the specific presentation you have. It may, for example, that there are lifestyle issues like work which keeps you on your feet all day which might adversely impact on treatment outcomes, or it may be that there are specific reasons for the pain like injury or accident which would have to be factored in to their assessment.

Such is the unique nature of each presentation of osteoarthritis of the knee it really is best to have someone have a look at the specific nature of the problem and the context in which it sits. Chinese medicine is premised on the treatment of the person, not the condition, and this is one of its great strengths. Treating symptoms alone can sometimes be successful but treatment of then person as a whole is more likely to keep the symptoms at bay. We are not alone in taking this view. The great Canadian physician William Osler often said 'The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.'

The only issue we had with the German trials was that they were largely formula treatments undertaken by doctors. This is all very well, but in Chinese medicine there is a concept vaguely akin to arthritis called 'Bi Syndrome'. This looks at arthritic conditions in terms of the more general changes in the energy of the body and how they reflect in particular joints, but what we have at our disposal here is a range of options for looking at joint problems in terms of how they present. Hence, stiffness and lack of mobility with discomfort but not actual pain would point in some very specific directions when seen in the context of the whole system. A mixture of local and systemic treatment may well be able to achieve some improvement. The only thing we aren't able to predict is the extent of the improvement and how well or easily it can be sustained.

The advice we gave in the previous answer, to visit a local BAcC member, holds good especially in your case. Someone taking a look at not simply the joint itself but the context in which the problems have developed (systemic issues, accidents or repeated use, etc) will be able to give you a very good idea of what may be possible.

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