Acupuncture for Osgood Schlatter’s Disease

Osgood Schlatter’s disease is a condition which usually affects teenagers, especially those who play sports involving kicking, running or jumping. The main symptom is pain just below the knee cap, which is usually worse during and just after activity, and which improves with rest; it is thought to be caused by overuse of the quadriceps muscles, the large muscles on the front of the thigh bone.

Quite often the problem will clear up by itself within a few months, but sometimes it can last longer than this, and, whilst no long term damage is likely to result, it can impact detrimentally on sporting activity.

Osgood Schlatter’s  Disease and TCM

Acupuncture is often used for painful conditions of this kind; from the Chinese medical perspective, pain is caused by a failure of the Qi to flow freely through the area concerned, and acupuncture needles inserted near the location of pain and also further down the leg will stimulate the flow of Qi and consequently reduce pain.

Beyond this, TCM treatment can support the health of the individual as a whole, and this will in turn speed up recovery and improve exercise capacity. For example, if the digestive system is not functioning optimally, then the body’s ability to nourish itself from the food taken in is impaired, and this will compromise healing responses.

Digestion may itself be impaired by excessive study (too much ‘food for thought’!) as well as worry and poor dietary choices, all of which affect teenagers. Because TCM treatment always begins with a consultation which gives the practitioner a good overview of every aspect of the patient’s health, treatment can be tailored not just to target the knee pain but also to address any imbalances such as described above.


Is Acupuncture Helpful in Treating Osgood Schlatter’s Disease?

Although we are still awaiting modern medical research to catch up with ancient Chinese Medical practice, there is certainly plenty of evidence to show that acupuncture is useful in the treatment of painful conditions generally. For example, the World Health Organisation1 lists knee pain as just one of the conditions for which acupuncture has been proven, through controlled trials, to be an effective treatment.  There are many more.

Furthermore, research has shown that acupuncture treatment can promote resolution of injuries by:

  • providing pain relief2

  • increasing local microcirculation3 which aids dispersal of swelling and bruising.

  • suppression of the peripheral inflammatory response4 and other anti-inflammatory mechanisms5,6

  • promoting faster recovery after training sessions7



1 WHO (2002):Acupuncture:  Review and Analysis of Reports of Controlled Clinical Trials.


2 Pomeranz B. (1987) Scientific Basis of Acupuncture in Stuz & Pomeranz eds Acupuncture Textbook and Atlas Heidleberg: Springer-Verlag : 1-18


3  Komoroi M. et al (2009) Microcirculatory Responses to Acupuncture Stimulation and Phototherapy Anesth Analg 108(2):635-40


4  Kim HW et al (2008) Low- Frequency Electroacupuncture Suppresses Carrageenan Induced Paw Inflammation in Mice Via Sympathetic  Post-ganglionic Neurons, while High Frequency EA Suppression is Mediated by the Sympathoadrenal Medullary Axis Brain Res Bull 28: 75(5) 698-705


5  Kavoussi B & Ross BE (2007) The Neuroimmune Basis of Antiinflammatory Acupuncture Integr Cancer Ther 6(3) 251-7


6  Zijlstra FJ et al (2003) Anti-inflammatory Actions of Acupuncture Mediators Inflamm 12(2): 59-69


7  Pan H (2007) Impact of Acupuncture Applied to Sanyinjiao on the Movement Ability of Female Athletes  Int J Clin Acupuncture 16(3): 157-161


The Sean Barkes Clinic does not claim to cure any conventional medical disease states. Traditional Chinese Medicine seeks to re-establish and maintain the harmonious function of the human body-mind using tried and tested principles that have been discovered and matured over millennia. A Western medical diagnosis provides very little by way of insight in informing a Chinese Medical diagnosis. Patients usually recognise their own condition in terms of the medical disease category that they have been given by their GP or other conventional medical practitioner. The research presented here is merely an indication of the potential to draw parallels between Traditional Chinese Medicine and Modern Western Medicine.