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Acupuncture Reduces Knee Pain & Increases Flexibility Acupuncture Reduces Knee Pain & Increases Flexibility?

A new study concludes that acupuncture reduces knee pain and increases mobility for patients with osteoarthritis. This new randomized, controlled, double-blinded study also revealed some differences in acupuncture treatments. The researchers compared non-specific (sham) needling, modern acupuncture and classical acupuncture treatments.

The results showed that sham acupuncture only achieved a patient pain reduction rate in 48% of patients while modern acupuncture achieved a 64% rate and classical acupuncture achieved a 73% rate. Sham acupuncture did not improve knee mobility but modern and classical acupuncture made significant, measurable improvements in knee mobility. The researchers concluded that there is “a specific effect of acupuncture in knee mobility.” The researchers also note, “With respect to knee motility, individualised classical acupuncture achieved twice the effect of semistandardised modern acupuncture.”

Acupuncture for KneesThe sham acupuncture bodily points were those not specifically noted for the treatment of knee pain in Chinese medicine texts. The modern acupuncture points were those suggested based on the biomedical condition of knee osteoarthritis. The acupuncture points were: ST36, ST34, EX32, SP9, SP10, SP6, GB34, LI4. The classical acupuncture points chosen were based on a customized differential diagnosis based on tissue tenderness, tongue diagnosis, pulse diagnosis, syndrome differentiation and symptoms. Needles chose for the study in all cases were 0.22 X 40mm copper needles. Ear and hand points were excluded from the study. Needle stimulation was applied and needle retention was a total of 30 minutes per treatment.

The researchers note, “This suggests a considerable specific effect of acupuncture in objective knee flexibility, an effect that appears to be method-specific as well… we observed a rapid improvement of knee flexibility immediately after classical acupuncture, which was twice the effect observed after modern acupuncture and absent after non-specific needling.”

This is not the first study showing the effectiveness of acupuncture for the treatment of knee disorders. One recent study discovered that acupuncture is more effective than both sham acupuncture and biomedicine for the treatment of knee pain. A meta-analysis of 14 random controlled clinical trials involving 3,835 patients states, “Acupuncture provided significantly better relief from knee osteoarthritis pain and a larger improvement in function than sham acupuncture, standard care treatment, or waiting for further treatment.” The study notes that acupuncture for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis is “better at relieving pain and restoring function” than both standard biomedical care and sham acupuncture.

Max Karner, Frank Brazkiewicz, Andrew Remppis, et al., “Objectifying Specific and Nonspecific Effects of Acupuncture: A Double-Blinded Randomised Trial in Osteoarthritis of the Knee,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2013, Article ID 427265, 7 pages, 2013. doi:10.1155/2013/427265

Sau. Med J. 2012 May;33(5):526-32. Needle acupuncture for osteoarthritis of the knee. A systematic review and updated meta-analysis. Cao L, Zhang XL, Gao YS, Jiang Y. Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Shanghai Sixth People's Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai, China.

Acupuncture Benefits Patients with Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Topic: Acupuncture Benefits Patients with Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Keywords: ARTHRITIS, OSTEOARTHRITIS, KNEE PAIN, CHRONIC PAIN - Acupuncture, Electroacupuncture, Chinese Medicine

Reference: "A blinded randomised trial of acupuncture (manual and electroacupuncture) compared with a non-penetrating sham for the symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee," Jubb R, Tukmachi E, et al, Acupunct Med, 2008; 26(2): 69-78. (Address: Department of Rheumatology, University Hospital Birmingham, Birmingham, UK. E-mail: ).

Summary: In a study involving 68 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, treatment with acupuncture was found to be more effective than a 'placebo' (non-penetrating sham acupuncture) in reducing pain and stiffness and improving function. Patients were randomized to either receive actual acupuncture (manual and electroacupuncture) or a placebo treatment (non-penetrating sheathed sham acupuncture), twice weekly, for a period of 5 weeks. Acupuncture points were selected based on the theory of treating Bi syndrome, with points including: LI-4, SP-10, Xiyan, SP-9, GB-34, ST-36, LR-3, BL-40, and BL-57. Results found significantly greater improvement among patients who received acupuncture (mean difference in WOMAC score improvement: 60), as compared to the sham treatment. Subjects in the acupuncture group had a mean change in WOMAC score of 95, compared to only 35 among those who received the sham treatment. Improvements were also found in WOMAC stiffness and function. The between-group difference in improvement significantly decreased 1 month after the treatments ended, though those who received acupuncture still had less pain as compared to baseline. Levels of plasma beta-endorphin were not affected by either treatment. The authors conclude, "These results support earlier research demonstrating that acupuncture can alleviate the pain and disability of osteoarthritis of the knee."

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