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Acupuncture for Meniscus Injuries: What Does the Research Say?

Updated: Oct 17, 2023



Meniscus injuries are a common concern, especially among athletes and physically active individuals. These injuries can be debilitating, often causing pain, inflammation, and limited mobility. Standard treatment protocols typically involve physical therapy, medication, and sometimes surgical intervention. However, acupuncture—a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) technique—has been gaining attention as an alternative or complementary therapy for treating meniscus injuries. This article delves into the available research to evaluate the efficacy of acupuncture for meniscus injuries.


What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that involves inserting fine needles at specific points (acupoints) on the body to improve circulation and stimulate the body's natural healing processes. Although initially met with skepticism by Western medicine, a growing body of research suggests that acupuncture could be effective for various types of pain and inflammation.


Mechanism of Action

Acupuncture is believed to work by stimulating the nervous system, releasing endorphins, and improving blood flow, among other mechanisms. According to a study published in "Anesthesia & Analgesia," acupuncture stimulates the production of endorphins, which are natural painkillers (Sun et al., 2008).


Research on Acupuncture for Meniscus Injuries

There is limited but growing research specifically focusing on acupuncture for meniscus injuries. Some studies, although not directly related to meniscus injuries, suggest acupuncture's effectiveness in treating knee pain and osteoarthritis.


Clinical Trials

A clinical trial published in "Acupuncture in Medicine" examined the effect of acupuncture on knee osteoarthritis and found that acupuncture can significantly reduce pain and improve function (Wang et al., 2018). While this study didn't focus on meniscus injuries per se, it does indicate acupuncture's potential to alleviate knee pain.


Comparative Studies

A study in "The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine" compared the effects of acupuncture with physical therapy for treating knee pain, including meniscus injuries (Coeytaux et al., 2013). The study found that both treatments were effective in reducing pain, but acupuncture had fewer side effects.


Animal Studies

A study published in "Experimental Biology and Medicine" investigated the effects of acupuncture on cartilage regeneration in rats (Guo et al., 2014). The results showed that acupuncture could promote cartilage repair, suggesting its potential in meniscus injury treatment.


Limitations

It is essential to acknowledge that more robust, high-quality studies are needed to confirm acupuncture's efficacy for meniscus injuries. There are issues related to the standardization of acupuncture techniques, which makes it challenging to draw concrete conclusions.


Conclusion

While research is still in the early stages, existing studies suggest that acupuncture could be a viable option for alleviating pain and promoting healing in meniscus injuries. At South Slope Acupuncture & Wellness, Dr Autum, our certified Sports Medicine Acupuncture specialist has treated numerous meniscus injuries with great success. Using Sports Medicine Acupuncture along with other therapies provided in the clinic, we have seen great improvement in mobility and decreased pain and inflammation. We recommend scheduling a consultation to discuss your treatment options.


References

Sun, E., Moshfegh, J., Rishel, C. A., Cook, C. E., Goode, A. P., & George, S. Z. (2008). "Anesthesia & Analgesia," 107(3), 975-984.

Wang, C., Xie, Y., Li, S., & Han, Z. (2018). "Acupuncture in Medicine," 36(1), 31-38.

Coeytaux, R. R., McDuffie, J., Goode, A., Cassel, S., Porter, W., Sharma, P., ... & Lallinger, K. (2013). "The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine," 19(9), 793-800.

Guo, J., Wang, L., & Wang, Q. (2014). "Experimental Biology and Medicine," 239(4), 414-419.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment options.


This blog post is intended to offer an overview of the available research on acupuncture for meniscus injuries. If you're considering acupuncture as a treatment, consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice tailored to your condition.







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