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Acupuncture Sports Medicine for Achilles Tendon Knee, Lower Back and Ankle Pain

Acupuncture is a useful treatment modality for athletes. The HealthCMi news department covers current research on the topic of specific acupuncture treatments for injury prevention and recovery.

An important focus is to increase athletic performance, stop pain, improve range of motion, and speed recuperation times. In this article, a few acupuncture points are covered that are useful for the treatment of knee, achilles tendon, lower back, and ankle disorders.

Achilles Tendon The following three acupuncture points are beneficial for the achilles tendon:

  • N-LE-3 (Genping, Level with the Heel)

  • M-LE-10 (Quanshengzu, Spring at the Foot)]

  • M-LE-9 (Nuxi, Woman’s Knee)

Genping is located on a line connecting the medial and lateral malleoli, at the posterior aspect of the body on the achilles tendon. A local point for the treatment of the achilles tendon, this acupoint is often needled to a depth of 0.5–0.8 cun. This point is traditionally indicated for foot disorders due to infantile paralysis.

Quanshengzu is located at the back of the heel, at the middle of the superior margin of the calcaneus bone, at the achilles tendon. Needle insertion is typically 0.2–0.3 cun. Indications include esophageal spasms, diseases of the brain, and lower back pain.

Nuxi is located at the back of the heel, at the center of the calcaneus bone. Needle insertion is typically 0.2 cun. Indications include gingivitis and mental illness. Additional acupuncture points include KD3 (Taixi), SP6 (Sanyinjiao), GB39 (Xuanzhong), and other local points.

Knee Disorders ACL, PCL, MCL, and LCL strains, sprains, and tears respond well to acupuncture along with many other knee conditions including arthritis and meniscus disorders. Common points useful for the treatment of knee disorders are:

  • Xiyan (MN-LE-16, Eyes of the Knee)

  • Xixia (M-LE-15, Below Knee, Hsi Hsia)

  • Heding (M-LE-27, Crane’s Summit)

Xiyan is a pair of acupuncture points located below the patella. The lateral acupoint is ST35 (Dubi) and the medial acupoint is MN-LE-16 (Nei Xiyan). ST35 is located with the knee flexed. The point is at the lower border of the patella, in the hollow below the patella and lateral to the patellar ligament. Nei Xiyan is located in the hollow medial to the patellar ligament.

Xixia is at the patellar ligament at the lower border of the patella. The point is below the center of the inferior margin of the patella. Needle insertion is approximately 1–1.5 cun, perpendicularly.

Heding is located at the middle of the superior margin of the patella. It is indicated for diseases of the knee and surrounding tissues, weakness of the foot and leg, and paralysis. Needle insertion is approximately 0.3–1 cun.

Lower Back Pain One of the most common complaints in an acupuncture clinic is lower back pain. There are numerous points for the treatment of lower back pain and the following acupoints a just of few that are reviewed within the course materials:

  • KD3 (Taixi)

  • Yaotongxue

  • Shiqizhuixia

  • BL26 (Guanyuanshua)

  • BL53 (Baohuang)

  • GB30 (Huantiao)

KD3 is located between the tip of the medial malleolus and the Achilles tendon, level with the prominence of the medial malleolus. KD3 is a shu stream, earth, and yuan-source point. KD3 benefits the kidneys, cools yin deficiency heat, and strengthens the lower back, lumbar spine, and knees.

Acute lower back pain is a common condition that may be treated by a variety of approaches with acupuncture. A time honored favorite is the use of Yaotongxue, translated as lumbar pain point. Alternately, this point is referred to as Yaotongdian, translated as lumbar pain spot. Numerically, N-UE-19a is assigned to the Yaotongxue point between the second and third metacarpal bones and N-UE-19c is assigned to the Yaotongxue point between the fourth and fifth metacarpal bones.

Shiqizhuixia is located on the midline of the back, in the depression below the spinous process of the fifth lumbar vertebra. This is an excellent and common choice for the treatment of lower back pain, particularly when there is a problem with the L5/S1 disc or IVF encroachment at L5/S1. This acupoint is also useful for the treatment of irregular menstruation, dysmenorrhea, and paralysis of the lower extremities.

The BL26 (Gate of Origin Shu) is located 1.5 cun lateral to the lower border of the spinous process of L5 respectively. Electroacupuncture may be run across the midline to BL26 on the opposite side of the body or ipsilaterally (vertically) to other acupoints.

Baohuang (BL53) is translated as bladder’s vitals. This point is 3 cun lateral to the midline (GV channel) and is level with the 2nd sacral foramen (palpate to find the 2nd sacral foramen). An alternate method to locate this acupoint is to firmly press on the lateral edge of the buttocks and locate the point halfway between the midline and the lateral edge of the buttocks (level with the 2nd sacral foramen). This acupoint benefits urinary system, the lumbar region, and is effective for the treatment of lower back pain, sciatica, and associated radiculopathies.

Huantiao (GB30) is the meeting point of the gallbladder and bladder channels. GB30 is also a Ma Da-yang Heavenly Star acupoint. This point is located 1/3 the distance between the greater trochanter and the sacral hiatus. The point is located with the patient lying on the side with the thigh flexed.

Ankle Disorders Chronic re-injury of the ankles, sprains and strains, instability, and recovery from surgical procedures are common ankle treatment concerns within the field of acupuncture. For chronic conditions, a variety of local acupuncture points helps to strengthen and support the ankles, including the following:

  • KD3 (Taixi)

  • BL60 (Kunlun)

  • GB40 (Qiuxu)

  • ST42 (Chongyang)

Many patients begin to self-identify with pathological conditions in the ankles. In essence, they no longer believe that they can completely overcome ankle weaknesses. In reality, many of these patients can have a complete recovery or have a very significant improvement in their overall condition. Manual and electroacupuncture often enhance local microcirculation to provide a more rapid recovery and long-term improvements.

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