Sore knees according to Chinese Medicine

knee stiffness redirects here

Sore knees can be the consequence of several so-called “patterns of disharmony” in Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted, leading to symptoms or signs that something is wrong (like sore knees here). It is similar to the concept of disease in Western Medicine but not quite: a Western disease can often be explained by several Chinese patterns and vice-versa.

A pattern often manifests itself in a combination of symptoms that, at first glance, do not seem necessarily related to each others. For instance here sore knees is often associated with joint pain, stiff neck and lumbar pain in the pattern “/tcm-education-center/patterns/painful-obstruction-syndrome”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause sore knees.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of sore knees we’ve identified five herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the five medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat sore knees.

The three "patterns of disharmony" that can cause sore knees

In Chinese Medicine sore knees is a symptom for 3 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

Prepared Sichuan Aconite (Zhi Chuan Wu) is the king ingredient for Wu Tou Tang, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/painful-obstruction-syndrome

Painful Obstruction Syndrome

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Wiry (Xian)

In addition to sore knees, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/painful-obstruction-syndrome include joint pain, stiff neck and lumbar pain.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/painful-obstruction-syndrome is often treated with Wu Tou Tang, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Prepared Sichuan Aconite - Zhi Chuan Wu - as a key herb). Wu Tou Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that warm the meridians and disperse cold", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms the channels and remove obstruaction".

Read more about Painful Obstruction Syndrome here

The Kidneys is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Kidneys in Chinese Medicine

Kidney Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

Tongue shape: Cracked

Kidney Yin Deficiency causes false Heat symptoms, such as night sweats, thirst and five palm heat. These signs are from a depletion of Body Fluids and Essence. It can be caused by prolonged overwork, excessive sexual activity, chronic long term illnesses, consumption of Body Fluids by Heat, prolonged blood loss, overdosage of Kidney Yang tonics herbs, smoking and Kidney depleting foods such as coffee, alcohol, sugar, and fruit juices.

In addition to sore knees, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/kidney-yin-deficiency include dizziness, tinnitus and sore back.

From a Western Medicine standpoint /tcm-education-center/patterns/kidney-yin-deficiency is associated with health issues such as Menopausal Syndrome, Prolonged Periods or Irregular Menstruation.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/kidney-yin-deficiency is often treated with Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Liu Wei Di Huang Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish yin and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system)".

Read more about Kidney Yin Deficiency here

Water Plantain (Ze Xie) is the king ingredient for Wu Ling San, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/oedema

Oedema

Pulse type(s): Hidden (Fu), Slowed-down (Huan)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Oedema manifests itself as swellings due to the retention of Body Fluids. Chinese Medicine believes that it originates from the leaking of Body Fluids from their normal pathways into the space between skin and muscles.

In addition to sore knees, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/oedema include sore back, poor appetite and oedema of ankles.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/oedema is often treated with Wu Ling San, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Water Plantain - Ze Xie - as a key herb). Wu Ling San belongs to the category of "formulas that promote urination and leach out dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Promotes urination,".

Read more about Oedema here

Five herbal formulas that might help with sore knees

Wu Tou Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Warms the channels and remove obstruaction. Disperse Cold and Dampness. Warms the joints. Relieve joints pain.

Why might Wu Tou Tang help with sore knees?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/painful-obstruction-syndrome' of which knee stiffness is a symptom.

Read more about Wu Tou Tang here

Da Fang Feng Tang

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Key actions: Expel Wind Damp. Relieve pain. Tonify the Liver and the Kidneys. Tonify the Blood and Qi.

Why might Da Fang Feng Tang help with sore knees?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/painful-obstruction-syndrome' of which knee stiffness is a symptom.

Read more about Da Fang Feng Tang here

Liu Wei Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1119 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system).

Why might Liu Wei Di Huang Wan help with sore knees?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/kidney-yin-deficiency' of which sore knees is a symptom.

Read more about Liu Wei Di Huang Wan here

Wu Ling San

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Promotes urination,. Warms the Yang. Strengthens the Spleen. Promotes Qi transformation function. Drains Dampness. Clears edema.

Why might Wu Ling San help with sore knees?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/oedema' of which sore knees is a symptom.

Read more about Wu Ling San here

Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Diuretic, clears Excess fluid and removes edema. Tonifies the Spleen Qi. Calms External Wind.

Why might Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang help with sore knees?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/oedema' of which sore knees is a symptom.

Read more about Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang here

Acupuncture points used for sore knees

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat sore knees

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with sore knees?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat sore knees as a symptom, like Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang or Ping Wei San for instance.

Liquorice is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Basal Qi and nourishes the Spleen Qi. Clears Heat and dispels toxicity. Moistens the Lungsexpel phlegm and stop coughing. Relieves spasms and alleviates pain. Harmonizes and moderates the effects of other herbs.

Read more about Liquorice here

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with sore knees?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat sore knees as a symptom, like Wu Pi Yin or Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang for instance.

Poria-Cocos Mushrooms is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney, the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Encourages urination and drains Dampness. Tonic to the Spleen/Stomach. Assists the Heart and calms the Spirit.

Read more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms here

Why might White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with sore knees?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat sore knees as a symptom, like Wu Tou Tang or Zhen Wu Tang for instance.

White Peony Roots is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Sour. It targets the Liver and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood and preserves the Yin. Nourishes the Liver and assists in the smooth flow of Qi. Regulates the meridians and eases the pain.

Read more about White Peony Roots here

Why might Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with sore knees?

Because Atractylodes Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat sore knees as a symptom, like Zhen Wu Tang or Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang for instance.

Atractylodes Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen Qi. Fortifies the Spleen Yang and dispels Damp through urination. Tonifies Qi and stops sweating. Calms restless fetus when due to Deficiency of Spleen Qi.

Read more about Atractylodes Rhizomes here

Why might Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) help with sore knees?

Because Prepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat sore knees as a symptom, like Zuo Gui Yin or Qi Ju Di Huang Wan for instance.

Prepared Rehmannia is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Tonifies the Yin of the Kidneys.

Read more about Prepared Rehmannia here