Sunday, June 06, 2010

TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) knee osteoarthritis treatment

A large part of our visit to Shanghai were spent on visiting the TCM doctor to seek treatment for my wife's and my mother-in-law's knee pain. We made 9 visits in the 10 days we were there. The doctor recommended daily treatment without break. This resulted in Hangzhou being dropped from our planned itinerary.

Treatment entails Acupuncture, Moxibustion, Cupping Therapy and Massage and then finishing off with a herbal patch to the treated area.

Indirect moxibustion. An acupuncture針灸 needle is inserted into an acupoint and the tip of the needle is then wrapped in moxa and ignited, generating heat to the point and the surrounding area. The moxa is a Chinese herb Artemisia Mug wort, a type of Chrysanthemum. The leaf of the Artemisia is bitter, pungent and considered to be thermal and warming in nature. Moxibustion is known for providing relief to stubborn musculoskeletal pains. In ancient times a small, cone-shaped amount of moxa is placed on top of an acupoint and burned. Another method is holding a cigar like stick over the acupoint to deliver the heat.

Fire cupping facilitate improved blood-flow and generate qi movement in the patient. Specially made bulb-shaped glass cups are heated, creating a vacuum and applied against the patient’s skin. The suction is so strong that the skin is pulled out creating what looks like "extra large nipples" lol, and we really had a good laugh.

I decided to have a go myself, just for the experience so I told the doctor about my occasional numbness down my right arm to the fingers and stiff neck. In my case the doctor did not apply burned moxa to the needles but held a lighted flame to the tip of the needle. It was quite an experience and spectacle : )


  1. Nowadays, even younger generation can be diagnosed with osteoarthritis. The cause can't be related to just one factor however there are preventive measures that can be taken. One simple way is by increasing the amount intake of Omega 3 fatty acids.

  2. Thanks Doc for your sharing. My wife has been taking Omega 3 and 6 for quite some time now. I sense that doing the right exercise is the best.

  3. Hi Dogcom,

    Love the pic of indirect moxibustion. Can I have permission to use this on a short educational web based article on cupping? Do let me know. Thanks


  4. Yes go ahead. I just request that you give credit to

  5. Very informative post. Thanks for taking the time to share your view with us. osteoarthritis doctors