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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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