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With Acupuncture against Knee Osteoarthritis
Small needle - large effect
© Picture Disk
The multi-site study team, including rheumatologists and licensed acupuncturists, enrolled 570 patients, aged 50 or older with osteoarthritis of the knee. Participants had significant pain in their knee the month before joining the study, but had never experienced acupuncture, had not had knee surgery in the previous 6 months, and had not used steroid or similar injections.
Participants were randomly assigned to receive one of three treatments: acupuncture, sham acupuncture, or participation in a control group that followed an Arthritis Foundation's self-help course for managing their condition.
"For the first time, a clinical trial with sufficient rigor, size, and duration has shown that acupuncture reduces the pain and functional impairment of osteoarthritis of the knee," said Stephen E. Straus, M.D., National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) Director. "These results also indicate that acupuncture can serve as an effective addition to a standard regimen of care and improve quality of life for knee osteoarthritis sufferers. NCCAM has been building a portfolio of basic and clinical research that is now revealing the power and promise of applying stringent research methods to ancient practices like acupuncture."
On joining the study, patients' pain and knee function were assessed using standard arthritis research survey instruments and measurement tools. Patients' progress was assessed at 4, 8, 14, and 26 weeks. By week 8, participants receiving acupuncture were showing a significant increase in function and by week 14 a significant decrease in pain, compared with the sham and control groups. These results held through week 26. Overall, those who received acupuncture had a 40 percent decrease in pain and a nearly 40 percent improvement in function compared to baseline assessments.
- The NIH/National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine can be found at: www.nccam.nih.gov