Can Acupuncture Repair Knee Arthritis Cartilage Damage?

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Many diseases that can not be cured by modern science,  people will ask for the traditional Chinese medical  skills to have a better therapy,  there is a question from one of our customers: does the acupuncture needles  repair the  Knee Arthritis Cartilage Damage? the answer is as below by professional analysis:

The MRIs demonstrate that acupuncture improves cartilage in the knee region. Physical therapy did not stimulate cartilage repair. Pain, stiffness, and physical functioning improved with both therapies. However, acupuncture significantly outperformed physical therapy across all three WOMAC indices (pain, stiffness, and physical functioning).


One group received physical therapy and another study group received acupuncture. For the acupuncture group, electroacupuncture was administered by licensed acupuncturists with a practice experience in excess of twenty years. Acupuncture was applied once, every other day, for a total of four weeks. Needle retention time per acupuncture session was 20 minutes.

MN-LE16 Neixiyan (medial Xiyan)

ST35 Dubi (lateral Xiyan, Waixiyan)

EX-LE2 Heding

SP10 Xuehai

SP11 Jimen

ST34 Liangqiu

ST36 Zusanli

The needles used in the study were Hanyi brand disposable stainless steel filiform needles, size 0.30 × 40 mm. The depth of insertion ranged from 0.8–3.5 cm. Manual needle stimulation was applied to elicit a deqi response for each needle. Additionally, medial and lateral Xiyan received 20 Hz electroacupuncture stimulation to patient tolerance levels. The acupoints used in the study were the following:


Medial and lateral Xiyan and Heding were chosen as the primary acupoints for all participants. Supplementary points were added to benefit local tissues. A total of 126 patient were screened for inclusion and 47 patients participants with 94 treated knees completed the clinical trials.

The researchers note that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles were used to make the acupoint selection for the study. Local points were used to benefit local tissues and ST36 located on the stomach foot-yangming channel was selected because this channel “is full of energy and nutrition.” The focus of ST36 stimulation was to invigorate qi through the channel. 

The researchers note that acupuncture and physical therapy produced positive patient outcomes, especially for pain, stiffness in the morning, and joint dysfunction. The researchers note, “acupuncture treatment showed better curative effect than physiotherapy, suggesting that acupuncture may be a superior non-operative treatment for KOA [knee osteoarthritis] compared with physiotherapy.”

The MRIs demonstrate that acupuncture “improves medial tibial sub-region (MTa) and anterior lateral tibial sub-region (LTa)” cartilage. The research team commented that prior research may give us clues as to the biochemical mechanisms responsible for acupuncture’s therapeutic and curative actions. “Previous studies have proved anti-inflammatory action of acupuncture by influencing expression of interleukin-1β, tumor necrosis factor-α, matrix metalloproteinase and tissue inhibitor. Additionally, acupuncture may play roles in improving cartilage repairing by influencing expression of transforming growth factor-β1 and basic fibroblast growth factor.”

The research confirms that acupuncture reduces pain and inflammation due to osteoarthritis of the knee. The MRI documentation demonstrates that acupuncture initiates cartilage repair. Patients seeking advice regarding acupuncture are advised to consult with local licensed acupuncturists.