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    Study: Acupuncture Effective for Arthritis

    Ancient Practice Relieves Pain, Improves Function in Knee Osteoarthritis
    By
    WebMD Health News

    Dec. 20, 2004 -- An ancient Chinese medical treatment that has been used by millions of Americans finally has a stamp of approval from western medicine. In what investigators are calling a "landmark" study, acupuncture was found to reduce pain and improve movement among patients with osteoarthritis of the knee when used with other treatments.

    Findings from the study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, were reported at a Monday news conference and are published in the Dec. 21 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

    The director of the NIH's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) called the investigation the "largest, longest, and most rigorous study of acupuncture" ever conducted. He said the 2,000-year-old practice can now be considered a "new" addition to therapies for degenerative osteoarthritis.

    Principal investigator Brian M. Berman, MD, of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland, said osteoarthritis of the knee was a logical choice for the large, government-funded acupuncture study because so many people with the condition have already turned to alternative medicines.

    "(Osteoarthritis) is a big public health problem affecting many millions of people in the U.S.," he said. "It is associated with a significant reduction in quality of life and is an area where traditional medicine does not have all the answers. Adequate pain relief is often not achieved, and many drugs have undesirable side effects, especially in the elderly."

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