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Study: Acupuncture Effective for Arthritis

Ancient Practice Relieves Pain, Improves Function in Knee Osteoarthritis

40% Improvement With Acupuncture continued...

All the patients were assessed at weeks 4, 8, 12, and 26 for pain and knee function. By week 8, the patients who got the true acupuncture were showing significant increases in knee function, and by week 14 they showed significant decreases in pain compared with the sham acupuncture and the education groups.

The acupuncture group had a 40% decrease in pain as compared with their initial pain scores. They also experienced a 40% improvement in function at the end of the trial, and there were no major treatment-related side effects.

Research in animals suggests that acupuncture works by affecting genes involved in the production of chemicals within the body that regulate pain. But it is not yet clear if the ancient practice can actually slow progression of the degenerative joint condition, says Stephen I. Katz, MD, PhD, director of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, which co-sponsored the study.

"More than 20 million Americans have osteoarthritis," Katz said. "This disease is one of the most frequent causes of physical disability among adults. Seeking an effective means of decreasing osteoarthritis pain and increasing function is of critical importance."

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