Needles and Knees

This post is an update on my Runner’s Knee. The dreaded ailment that has been plaguing me since October. I was doing really really well and by the time January came around I thought I might have it beat. Then I ran out of my tape and started to have a little flare-up. Then I went on a snowshoeing trek that turned out to be harder and longer than I wanted to attempt. Then I started doing orthopedic massage and I think that aggravated my IT band so much it made it worse. Bottom line: February pretty much sucked for my knees. Lots of pain. Lots of tears. Lots of feelings of hopelessness.

But I think I might be turning a corner. (knock on wood) Despite a recent flare up (last week), my knees have been ok. As of today, Monday, they are tight but not in pain…if that makes sense.


Treatment #1 – I went to the acupuncture clinic for the first time. The guy has been doing it for 30 years, was a teacher at a local Chinese Medicine school and is from China. He seemed very competent and nice enough. I did kind of feel like he was judgmental of “traditional” medicine. He made several comments about how I turn to pills for my ailments (i.e. insomnia and acne). I found that kind of annoying. I wanted to say, listen buddy–I’ve been suffering from insomnia for YEARS and if I didn’t take a pill to sleep on occasion to reset my body I’d probably be a mess and unable to function. So that was kind of a turn off.

Despite that, the session was good. I fell dead asleep during the 45 minute session. It was awesome. Did it fix my insomnia? No. My knees? Not sure. I started feeling better around that time but I don’t know if it’s the acupuncture, taking a few extra rest days off, or just my knees healing.


Treatment #2 – The second session was just okay. I couldn’t relax. I felt anxious and uncomfortable. I couldn’t shut my brain off and when I did start to relax my equilibrium was really off. I felt like the table I was laying on was sideways and I was trying to hang on to the table without sliding off. It was the weirdest sensation and hard to describe.

Treatment #3 – This was a good but WEIRD session. I was able to relax despite the fact that I was having some nerve pain when he first put the needles in. Usually they don’t hurt. The weird thing was that my body was twitchy for the entire 45 minute session.

I fell asleep almost immediately, but not a deep sleep–it was a half in this world, half in another world kind of sleep. And I would wake up about every 5-10 minutes because I’d twitch. First it was my left arm. Then my right leg. Then my left leg. Then my right arm. And so on. Kind of like that feeling when you feel like you’re falling and then your body jerks away? Like that. It was odd and I asked about it afterward. He said it was nothing and sometimes it just happens.

Treatment #4 – I wasn’t able to relax and fall asleep but I think the session helped my insomnia. Leading up to this treatment I hadn’t slept well in over a week, struggling badly with insomnia. That night I slept so hard and woke up feeling like a million bucks. This last for about 3 nights–GREAT sleep! Then the insomnia returned, but I usually have bad insomnia on Sunday nights…

One of the unpleasant things about this session was that I had nerve issues the entire time. Usually it doesn’t hurt and I can barely even feel the fact that I have a dozen needles in my body. This time I felt every single one and it was shocking nerve pain on several of them! I have no idea where this sudden sensitivity came from. It was unpleasant.

Treatment #5 – I saw a different acupuncturist because my guy was on vacation. It went well and I had no issues.

Treatment #6 – This was not a great session. I had a lot of nerve discomfort when he put the needles in. While acupuncture doesn’t usually hurt, it can sometimes be a little sting and I tend to clench up in anticipation. This particular session I had an unusual reaction to one needle. He left the room and I was trying to relax when the one in my ankle started to burn. It was excruciating. It was getting worse and worse and I couldn’t take it. I called the doctor back in and to his credit, he was there in seconds and took it out. I don’t know what happened but it was awful!!



My knees have been feeling a little better. I had almost a month of NO PAIN! It was AWESOME. I started noticing that I wasn’t in pain and then I noticed that I could run several blocks for the bus in the morning with no pain. I also stopped taping my knees. The last time I took time off from taping (in January) I had a horrible flare-up of knee pain. This time was different. That gave me hope.

I don’t know if taking some extra rest days, or going easy on the lower body exercises, or acupuncture is what worked. I’m not picky. Whatever is alleviating the pain is good by me. I’ve also stopped taking Advil.

I bought a patella strap and I’ve used it a little bit. I have found that I didn’t need it that often in the last month or so. I don’t know if it’s the acupuncture, taking a break from most cardio, not taping or really focusing on strengthening my glutes…but something is working. I am so happy!

I waited a few weeks before getting back to running. I wanted to go slow. It didn’t really go as planned.

Run #1 – Was able to run on the treadmill for half a mile but it wasn’t comfortable at all.

Run #2 – Didn’t happen.

Bike Ride #1 – It was a short jaunt to and from the gym but it went GREAT! It was about 5 miles total. I had no issues during or after the ride. It made me feel confident.

Bike Ride #2 – About a week later I did a half-way to work commute. Round trip it was about 11 miles. I had no issues during the ride or after. I felt really good and was happy. Sadly, a few days later I had another knee flare-up. 🙁

Now What?

I’m not sure where I go from here. Tomorrow’s post will give an idea. Stay tuned.

QUESTION: Have you seen results from acupuncture?

Author: Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and

22 thoughts on “Needles and Knees”

  1. Pain that interrupts your life and prevents you from doing what you love is awful. I hope you have really found what works for you in acupuncture, I know my mother in law goes to get that done and it has done wonders for her back pain and night leg cramps, hopefully it will continue to heal you too!
    Robyn recently posted..Monday Again?

    1. That’s what sucks–it disrupts my routine. It makes even something as simple as “can I walk down the street or is that too far?” a challenge. That’s great that acupuncture helped your mother in law. Everyone I know that has done it sings it’s praises. I hope it works for me!

  2. One of the next things I will be trying for my headache(s) is acupuncture. I’m not really a fan of needles, but I suppose if I can handle 3 tattoos and 3 sets of nerve blocks where they are sticking needles in my temples, I can handle this.

    I hope that you will be biking and running soon! 🙂
    Cindy recently posted..The spaces between

    1. If you have tattoos you can handle this! I have 5 tattoos and acupuncture feels nothing like it. It doesn’t even feel as bad as getting a flu shot! Seriously, give it a try.

  3. Wow, this is quite ‘depressing’, unless you’ve got a surprise for tomorrow? I can only wish you the best with what comes of it, I’m sure you’ll find an answer soon if you haven’t already!

    I may be behind on this, but is there anything that scans, x-rays or anything else that have hinted something? I’m intrigued…
    Nick Goodall recently posted..My Biggest Pitfall

    1. I don’t know about depressing but disheartening for sure. I had almost a month of NO PAIN and feeling great. The good news is that this recent flare up didn’t last very long like the last one did. So I guess that’s positive.

      I had an X-ray on my knees a few months ago and everything was fine. Not sure what an MRI will tell me.

  4. The acupuncture is very interesting! I didn’t know that it might be helpful for combating runner’s knee. I hope things continue go in a positive directions for you. I know that injuries can be incredibly frustrating (I’ve dealt with more than I care to think about). Hang in there, and keep up with the strengthening to promote correct muscle balance. For me, that has been a big help. 🙂
    Michelle @ Eat Move Balance recently posted..One-Minute Egg Yolk Dressing

  5. I hate to be a fear monger but you have to be absolutely positive that those needles are new or sterile. A lot of disease gets spread that way. Also I never really had runners knee but used to get shin splints a lot and something I absolutely swear by is bromelain. I haven’t taken it in years but I got it at GNC for like ten bucks. I originally purchased it because I had heard it helped with constipation in a more natural way. It didn’t but I noticed after a while no more shin splints. It might have just been coincidental but I don’t know.

    1. It’s a reputable place. I watch him remove the needles from the packaging and when he’s done he puts it in a biohazard container.

      I haven’t heard of bromelain. I’ll look it up.

  6. I hope your knees are on the mend Lisa, but if they are, it doesn”t sound to me like you’re giving them the break they need to fully heal. And if they’re not on the mend . . . just be careful.

    I’ve seen too many people run themselves into the ground. And it’s usually the knees that give out first. I wish I had listened to my body back during my heavy weight training days. It told me over and over again to JUST STOP.

    Of course, I didn’t.

    And so now I pay the price. Less training. Lighter training. Less muscle. More pain.

    A little patience goes a long way when it comes to healing from training injuries.

    Trevor recently posted..The Egg Diet vs. Steak and Eggs: Which Works Best for Quick Fat Loss?

    1. I appreciate the concern and hear what you are saying. Yes, I am stubborn. Yes, I often go balls-to-the-wall in everything I do. However, I am also incredibly in tune with my body. I know when something’s not right, when it’s more than just an ache or pain, and I do try my best to listen to what my body is telling me and NOT push past that point. I think the weight lifting program Suzanne wrote me did WONDERS. I really do think that is what gave me almost a month of absolute pain-free living! I’m disappointed that the bike ride is probably what undid it. I really do think that the seat is too low and I need to fork over the money to get re-fitted. It’s time to suck it up and do it and not try to figure it out myself!

      I also think that I was living with so much unbalance in my body for so long that it did this damage. My body finally said I needed to do the right thing (i.e. yoga and weight lifting to fix imbalances).

      I’m sorry to hear about your back. Back stuff is the worst. I watch my boyfriend suffer with it for a year. Are you better now?

    1. Give it a try. It really doesn’t hurt. I had one bad experience and that’s it. Tonight I went to my last session for awhile and it was fine. The needles don’t even feel like much. It’s not scary I swear!!

  7. I’ve had acupuncture many times (my physio is a qualified acupuncturist as well) and while I can’t say if it has helped or not, it certainly hasn’t made matters worse. I’m a fast healer anyway, but when I have it done I seem to have faster healing times. It does hurt some sessions, and not others, even if the needle is in the exact same place. Bodies are weird like that!

    I hope your knee comes right for you soon! I rolled my ankle a few weeks back, and while it is healing as it should it’s not healing fast enough for me, and I am getting frustrated! So, I hear ya!

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