Knee pain in Chinese Medicine is created by the Kidney energy and it is important to differentiate the difference whether of not it is due to Kidney deficiency or from a Painful Obstruction syndrome. When the pain is from a deficiency it is mainly bilateral meaning both sides of the knee and it usually develops gradually over a long period of time. Also if the knee feels weak and sometimes cold to the touch, then it is usually Kidney Yang deficiency. If it is a Kidney Yang deficiency it is usually never affected by the weather and also would never be swollen.
When the knee problem is from a pathogenic factor then you would see unilateral pain and it would start fairly suddenly. This type of knee problem would be affected by the weather, usually the rain or dampness, and the knee may be swollen as well.
In Chinese Medicine Painful obstruction usually can be several factors: one is the invasion of cold and damp due to weather conditions, and the other is from an injury which creates stagnation of Qi due to the injury. Usually when someone gets hurt the body takes it as a kind of shock and closes down somewhat from the trauma of the injury. This is why it is always a good thing to get an acupuncture treatment very soon after the injury since the body does not get that much of a chance to close down, thereby creating an instant flow of Qi. The other reason for knee pain is due to the stagnation of both Qi and Blood which takes place with the over usage of the joint. This is from either working out, running to hard, construction work or cleaning, and in Sonoma county I would venture to say gardening.
There are two types of pain, acute and chronic. The acute pain comes on suddenly and the chronic pain comes over a period of time. In Chinese Medicine they are both treated in similar ways. Depending on where the pain is determines which meridian will be used. The meridians are channel which run up and down the body. For example, the Stomach Meridian runs along the front of the body, above the knee and inside the joint itself, the Liver Meridian is on the back of the knee as well as the Spleen. The knee can have pain on the top, on the sides or in the back, in which case different Meridians would be used to move the Qi and Blood.
I just finished treating a man who has knee pain on the sides of his knees for about 10 years. He is 54 years old and has had no swelling but has pain deep within the joint. He also claims that it may be an old injury form a ski accident many years ago and has gone untreated since then since it has only begin to bother him rather recently. Since he is a bit older and the injury has been long standing, I decided to put him on a formula called Duo Huo Ji Sheng Tan. With eight treatments and taking the formula daily his knee pain has almost totally resolved. Through acupuncture and herbs most knee pain can be healed, the results I have gotten have been profound and lasting.