Symptom family: Joint Symptoms

Sub-symptom(s): Swollen Knee

Did you mean? Rigid Ankle

Root Causes of Swollen Joints in TCM

Explore below more details about what might cause Swollen joints according to TCM.

  • By Syndrome
Detailed description of the cause

Dampness

"Dampness" in TCM is a concept that describes a pattern of disharmony where the body accumulates excess moisture. Imagine the heavy, sticky feeling you get on a very humid day; that's similar to what dampness feels like internally. It can manifest as a sense of heaviness, bloating, sluggishness, or even a foggy mind. This condition is often thought to arise from environmental factors like living in a damp place, dietary habits that promote moisture in the body, or internal imbalances that hinder the body's ability to process fluids properly. In TCM, dampness can obstruct the normal flow of energy and fluids in the body, leading to various symptoms.... see more

Dampness Patterns That Can Lead to Swollen Joints

Common Symptoms: Arthralgia Joint Stiffness Skin Numbness Heavy Joint Muscle Numbness Aversion To Cold Fever Neck Gland Swelling

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Dampness invading the Channels joints and muscles Swollen joints, Arthralgia, Joint stiffness, Skin numbness, Heavy joint, Muscle numbness Xiao Huo Luo Dan | Shu Jing Huo Xue Tang
Damp-Wind Swollen joints, Aversion to cold, Fever, Neck gland swelling, Nausea, Perspiration, Occipital stiffness, Body pain, Muscle pain, Feeling of heaviness... see more Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang | Jiu Wei Qiang Huo Tang | Cang Er Zi San | Xiao Feng San | Ku Shen Tang | Hai Tong Pi Tang
Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner Red and swollen knees, Scanty and yellow urine, Lower back pain, Weakness of lower extremities, Red and swollen feet, Swollen knee, Thick greasy vaginal secretions, Ulcers on the lower limbs, Scanty and dark urine, Painful urination, Xerostomia... see more Er Miao San
Detailed description of the cause

Heat

In TCM "Heat" signifies an excess of Yang energy, leading to an imbalance where heat predominates over the body's cool Yin aspects. This condition is metaphorically akin to an internal over-heating. Symptoms indicative of Heat can include feelings of warmth, fever, sweating, irritability, red face, thirst with a preference for cold drinks, and a rapid pulse. The tongue may appear red with a yellow coating. Unlike the common interpretation of heat in terms of temperature, in TCM, it represents a state of hyperactivity or inflammation in the body.... see more

Heat Patterns That Can Lead to Swollen Joints

Common Symptoms: Arthralgia Joints Red And Hot Fever Thirst Anxiety Anemophobia Joint Stiffness Scanty And Yellow Urine

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Heat invading the Channels joints and muscles Swollen joints, Arthralgia, Joints red and hot, Fever, Thirst, Anxiety, Anemophobia, Joint stiffness... see more Xuan Bi Tang
Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner Red and swollen knees, Scanty and yellow urine, Lower back pain, Weakness of lower extremities, Red and swollen feet, Swollen knee, Thick greasy vaginal secretions, Ulcers on the lower limbs, Scanty and dark urine, Painful urination, Xerostomia... see more Er Miao San
Detailed description of the cause

Cold

In TCM "Cold" as a pattern of disharmony refers to a specific type of imbalance within the body's systems, often linked to a deficiency or weakness. It's not about feeling physically cold or having a common cold, but rather a metaphorical description of certain symptoms and underlying conditions. When a TCM practitioner says someone suffers from "Cold," it usually implies that the body's Yang energy, which is warm and active, is insufficient or overpowered by Yin energy, which is cool and passive. Symptoms of Cold in TCM can include a general feeling of coldness, cold limbs, pale complexion, low energy, slow metabolism, and a preference for warmth. ... see more

Cold Patterns That Can Lead to Swollen Joints

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Cold invading the Channels joints and muscles Swollen joints, Arthralgia, Joint stiffness, Muscle pain, Muscle numbness, Stiff neck Wu Tou Tang | Xiao Huo Luo Dan
Detailed description of the cause

Wind

In TCM "Wind" is a concept that represents a pattern of disharmony, often characterized by its sudden and unpredictable nature, much like a gusty wind changing direction without warning. This pattern is associated with symptoms that come and go quickly or move around the body, such as itching, tremors, or even certain types of pain. Wind is considered to be a primary cause of illnesses that have these rapidly changing characteristics. In TCM, external Wind often refers to illnesses that start suddenly, like the common cold, believed to be caused by external pathogenic factors like climatic changes. On the other hand, internal Wind can be linked to internal imbalances and can manifest in conditions like dizziness or spasms. ... see more

Wind Patterns That Can Lead to Swollen Joints

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Damp-Wind Swollen joints, Aversion to cold, Fever, Neck gland swelling, Nausea, Perspiration, Occipital stiffness, Body pain, Muscle pain, Feeling of heaviness... see more Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang | Jiu Wei Qiang Huo Tang | Cang Er Zi San | Xiao Feng San | Ku Shen Tang | Hai Tong Pi Tang

TCM Herbal Formulas for Swollen Joints

Explore below some TCM herbal formulas used to address swollen joints, organized by cause and by formula type.

  • By Cause
  • By Formula Type
  • Formulas that dredge and disperse external wind
  • Formulas that dispel wind-Damp
  • External formulas for external disorders
  • Formulas that warm the meridians and disperse cold
  • Formulas that invigorate blood and dispel blood stagnation
  • Formulas that clear wind-Cold
  • Formulas that expel dampness

All Formulas Recommended for Swollen Joints Caused by Dampness

Formula Patterns Suitable For
Xiao Huo Luo Dan Dampness invading the Channels joints and muscles
Shu Jing Huo Xue Tang Dampness invading the Channels joints and muscles
Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang Damp-Wind
Jiu Wei Qiang Huo Tang Damp-Wind
Cang Er Zi San Damp-Wind
Xiao Feng San Damp-Wind
Ku Shen Tang Damp-Wind
Hai Tong Pi Tang Damp-Wind
Er Miao San Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner

All Formulas Recommended for Swollen Joints Caused by Heat

Formula Patterns Suitable For
Xuan Bi Tang Heat invading the Channels joints and muscles
Er Miao San Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner

All Formulas Recommended for Swollen Joints Caused by Cold

Formula Patterns Suitable For
Xiao Huo Luo Dan Cold invading the Channels joints and muscles
Wu Tou Tang Cold invading the Channels joints and muscles

All Formulas Recommended for Swollen Joints Caused by Wind

Formula Patterns Suitable For
Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang Damp-Wind
Jiu Wei Qiang Huo Tang Damp-Wind
Cang Er Zi San Damp-Wind
Xiao Feng San Damp-Wind
Ku Shen Tang Damp-Wind
Hai Tong Pi Tang Damp-Wind

All "formulas that dredge and disperse external wind" recommended for swollen joints

Formula Patterns Suitable For (if applicable)
Xiao Huo Luo Dan Cold invading the Channels joints and muscles, Dampness invading the Channels joints and muscles, Painful Obstruction... see more
Cang Er Zi San Damp-Wind
Xiao Feng San Damp-Wind

All "formulas that dispel wind-Damp" recommended for swollen joints

Formula Patterns Suitable For (if applicable)
Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang Damp-Wind
Xuan Bi Tang Heat invading the Channels joints and muscles
Da Fang Feng Tang Painful Obstruction

All "external formulas for external disorders" recommended for swollen joints

Formula Patterns Suitable For (if applicable)
Ku Shen Tang Damp-Wind
Hai Tong Pi Tang Damp-Wind

Acupoints for Swollen Joints

Explore below some acupoints used to address swollen joints, organized by meridian.

  • By Meridian
  • Stomach Channel
  • Extra Points: Lower Extremities (EX-LE)
  • Gall Bladder Channel
  • Lung Channel
  • Bladder Channel
  • Spleen Channel
Juliao ST-3

Juliao ST-3

Directly below Sibai ST-2, at the level of the lower border of ala nasi.

Liangqiu ST-34

Liangqiu ST-34

2 cun above the upper-lateral border of the patella, on a line between the upper lateral patellar border and the anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS).

Dubi ST-35

Dubi ST-35

In the depression below the patella and lateral to the patellar ligament.

Heding EX-LE-2

Heding EX-LE-2

In the center of the upper border of the patella.

Neixiyan EX-LE-4

Neixiyan EX-LE-4

With the knee flexed, inferior to the patella, in a depression medial to the patellar ligament. Dubi ST-35 is at the same level, in a depression lateral to the patellar ligament. Both points form the Extra point of Xiyan EX-LE-5.

Xiyan EX-LE-5

Xiyan EX-LE-5

This is a group of 2 points, composed of Dubi ST-35 and Neixiyan EX-LE-4. Both are located inferior to the patella, medial and lateral to the patellar ligament. Dubi ST-35 is the lateral one, while Neixiyan EX-LE-4 is the medial one.

Xiyangguan GB-33

Xiyangguan GB-33

When the knee is flexed, Xiyangguan GB-33 is above Yanglingguan GB-34, in the depression between the shaft of the lateral epicondyle and the tendon of the biceps femoris muscle.

Yanglingquan GB-34

Yanglingquan GB-34

In the depression anterior and inferior to the head of the fibula.

Yangjiao GB-35

Yangjiao GB-35

7 cun above the tip of the external malleolus, on the posterior border of the fibula, within the distance between the tip of the external malleolus and Yanglingquan GB-34. It is also at the same level as Waiqiu GB-36.

Chize LU-5

Chize LU-5

On the cubital crease, on the redial aspect of the biceps tendon. It can be easily identified when the elbow is slightly flexed.

Pucan BL-61

Pucan BL-61

Posterior and inferior to the external malleolus, directly below Kunlun BL-60, in the depression of the calcaneum at the junction of the red and white skin.

Yinlingquan SP-9

Yinlingquan SP-9

On the lower border of the medial condyle of the tibia, in the depression between the posterior border of the tibia and gastrocnemius muscle.