At this time of year, we all turn our focus to the holidays – lots of food, presents and getting together with loved ones. For a small niche of people, I’m talking about physical therapists specifically, this time of year means a bump up in the number of patients you treat who just had one or both knees replaced. It’s true – many patients with Medicare will meet their deductibles throughout the year and then treat themselves to a new joint at the year’s end. For people who have been dealing with chronic knee osteoarthritis (OA) for 10 plus years, this surgery is usually embraced with open arms. But what about those who have only had it for a short period of time and aren’t either ready or willing to go through with that surgery? What do they do? One answer may come from this original article published in September of this year titled, “Periosteal Electric Dry Needling for Knee Osteoarthritis: Effectiveness and Mechanisms.” You can click on the title to read the original article.
If you are still on this page, chances are that means you want me to paraphrase for you and that I exactly what I am about to do. In a nutshell, the article made some very bold and exciting statements regarding knee OA pain and dry needling. Research has shown that dry needling is an effective means to treat knee pain, stiffness and related disability. How did they do it? Researchers placed several needles around the knee that touched or bumped the periosteum, the outer most layer of the bone, while applying electrical current. They concluded that, “Although the mechanisms by which electroacupuncture favorably affects pain and physical function in patients with knee OA remains unclear, Zhang et al18 recently found significantly lower T2 values on MRI at the anteromedial and anterolateral tibial sub-regions of 100 knees following 20 minute sessions over 4 weeks of 7-point, low frequency electroacupuncture; that is, electroacupuncture appears to play a role in cartilage repair in individuals with knee osteoarthritis.” You read that right, electro-dry needling seems to help the knee repair cartilage without any surgery!!!
The mechanisms by which the electro-dry needling affects pain is several fold and they are as follows:
- Blocked pain signals from the knee to the brain
- Local Vasodilation of blood vessels
- Stimulation of endogenous opioid production
- Decrease of pro-inflammatory markers (inflammation)
- Increased production of Hyaluronic Acid allowing Synovial Fluid to better lubricate the joint
If decreasing or possibly ridding yourself of knee OA sounds good, you might want to consider trigger point dry needling. There are no drugs and very few negative side effects, none of which, in this circumstance regarding the knees, is permanent. Increasing cartilage healing, joint fluid production, decreasing inflammation and increasing blood flow are great ways to make those old, achy knees feel better again. If that sounds like something you might like, give us a call, we can help. 479-402-9400.