Acupuncture Continuing Education

Acupuncture Stops Knee Pain

Acupuncture relieves knee osteoarthritis pain. Research published in the Shanghai Journal of Acupuncture and Moxibustion documents the clinical efficacy of two approaches to acupuncture therapy. Two groups received acupuncture at ST35 (Dubi, lateral Xiyan) and medial Xiyan (MN-LE-16) combined with electroacupuncture. In addition, the groups received acupuncture needles at Heding (M-LE-27), GB34 (Yanglingquan) and ST36 (Zusanli). Xiyan is depicted, which includes ST35. Group 1 received deep needling at ST35 and medial Xiyan whereas group two received standard needling. The deep needling group demonstrated superior clinical results. Deep needling achieved a greater level of knee pain relief and was more effective in reversing flaccidity in the leg. As a result, the researchers concluded that deep needling of Xiyan points provides greater pain relief than standard needling for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. 

The researchers investigated a textbook acupuncture point prescription for knee osteoarthritis. Classic texts often recommend Heding, Xixia (M-LE-15), ST35, ST34, ST36, GB34 and SP9. The basis of this comparison focused on needling depth. Here, deep needling to the points often referred to as the ‘eyes of the knees’, Xiyan, produced better results than a more shallow depth of insertion. Let’s take a look at points used in the study. 

ST35 is located with the knee flexed and is translated as calf’s nose. Along with medial Xiyan, this point is also called lateral Xiyan and is considered part of the Xiyan pairing. The point is at the lower border of the patella, below the patella and lateral to the patellar ligament. This classic point is indicated for knee disorders and functions to dispel wind-dampness, reduce swelling, activate the channels and stop pain. 

Xiyan is translated as eyes of the knee. Medial Xiyan is in the hollow formed by a flexed kneed that is below the patella. It is medial to the patellar ligament. This point functions to reduce wind-dampness, alleviate swelling and stop pain. Medial Xiyan is an extra point and is not considered part of a primary acupuncture channel. The point has been in use for approximately 1,500 years. The knee is depicted here.

Medial Xiyan and ST35 are the eyes of the knee combination. Another point often combined with the Xiyan combination is extra point Xixia (M-LE-15). Translated as below knee, this point is located at the patellar ligament at the inferior margin of the patella. This point is indicated for the treatment of knee disorders and soft tissues disorders of the local region. Together, Xi Xia (Hsi Hsia) and Xiyan are a powerful trinity for the treatment of knee disorders. The great Prof. Wae Shui was known to use this combination with deep needling for both knee pain and arthralgia.


Liu, N. "Clinical Observations on Deep Needling of Points Dubi and Medial Xiyan for the Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis." Shanghai Journal of Acupuncture and Moxibustion (2013): 857-858.


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