What are Common Knee Problems?

From Modern Western Medicine

Sprains of the ligament within the knee or the tearing of the meniscus, the small piece of cartilage within the knee joint, are usually the result of a sudden twist. Fragments of the meniscus can be torn free from the cartilage and cause the knee to become temporarily locked in one position.

Severe injuries, such as from sports activities or car accidents, can cause bleeding within the knee (hemarthrosis), minor injuries usually cause only inflammation of the lining of the joint (synovitis); running and other repetitive motion activities can cause inflammation of the tendon. Children sometimes experience temporary swelling of the prominent bone just below the knee (tibial tubercule) after repeated injury, such as from falling.

Excessive pressure on the front of the knee can cause bursitis (Inflammation of the bursa, which is fluid-filled sacs within the joint). When fluid seems to be leaking from the knee or from one of the bursae, there may be a cyst within the joint, called a Baker’s cyst.

Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, retropatellar arthritis (inflammation under the surface of the patella) all affect the knee. Dislocation of the kneecap (patella) can occur after a sharp blow to the knee. Fractures of the bones of the knee are also common.

Children commonly suffer from knock-knees and bowlegs, but the vast majority of them outgrow these temporary abnormalities.

From Traditional Medicine

Knee problems are the result of deficiency of kidney yang (see the section on Kidney Disease) and kidney jing, or the energy that is considered the deep essence within the kidneys that determine vitality, resistance to disease, and longevity. Chinese medicine teaches us that each person has only a certain amount of jing. When it is used up, we cease to live. Certain foods provide jing, and protect existing jing. To strengthen jing, you should begin by eliminating those factors that weaken it, among which are stress, fear, insecurity, and overwork; excess ejaculation in men; too many births for women; toxins in food; and too much protein.

To nourish jing, see Foods to Eat listed below.



Food to Eat

See Foods to Eat to enhance kidney yang in the section on Kidney Disease. Foods to enhance the kidneys in general, according to Chinese medicine:

  • Millet
  • Wheat
  • Black sesame seeds
  • Black beans and black soybeans
  • Chestnuts
  • Mulberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Walnuts


Foods to nourish jing:

  • Micro-algae, such as chlorella, spirulina, and wild blue-green algae
  • Bone-marrow soup (chop up the bones of an organic chicken) is especially good when there is deficiency characterized by frailty, pale or sallow complexion, weak radial pulse, introverted personality, and/or little or no tongue coating. Use cautiously when there is signs of heat. People who have an aversion to heat, great thirst, red tongue, yellow tongue coating, flushed face, and/or bloodshot eyes should use this warming remedy cautiously. 
  • Fish (those with heat signs should use cautiously)
  • Cereal grasses repair damaged nucleic acid in the cells and are a rich source of provitamin A and omega-3 oils. (Those with cold signs, characterized by frequent feelings of coldness, aversion to the cold, pale complexion, and/or attraction to warm food and drink should avoid cereal grasses.)
  • Almonds, high-quality milk, and clarified butter are especially good for those with cold signs.
  • Nettles: Eat as a cooked green. Avoid when there are cold signs.
  • Royal jelly contains the most complete range of human nutrients of any food. It is an energy tonic used for general deficiency. Royal jelly promotes phenomenal physical growth, reproductive ability, and longevity in the queen bee. In humans, it strongly stimulates sexuality and may help extend human life as well.


Foods to Avoid

  • Cold food and liquid
  • Fruit
  • Sugar
  • Processed food
  • Stimulants
  • Intoxicants
  • Excessive amounts of protein


Herbs to Treat Knee Problems

  • Pyrola relieves knee pain. Take 3 – 9 g.
  • Michael Tierra’s Formula 33 tonifies the kidney yang. Purchase or order through a health food store. Take 2 tablets, two or three times a day with warm water and a little miso, tamari, or sea salt.
  • Lycium berries tonify the liver and kidneys. To treat sore knees, take 6 – 15 g per day.