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New Support for Acupuncture in Knee Arthritis

Acupuncture Complements Drug Therapy for Knee Osteoarthritis Pain

Doctors, Patients Slow to Accept Acupuncture continued...

Erin Arnold, MD, a rheumatologist at the Illinois Bone and Joint Institute in Morton Grove, treats many of her arthritis patients with acupuncture in combination with medical treatments.

"Among doctors who deal with chronic pain, there is an appreciation of complementary therapies such as acupuncture," Arnold tells WebMD. "It is reasonable to think that in situations where there is chronic pain - where the pain can come from many places and not just the joint -- that no one single therapy provides relief."

Arnold says doctors are becoming more open to referring arthritis patients for acupuncture. But she says many doctors still do not accept it.

"I just gave a talk at medical grand rounds, and most of the doctors were enthusiastic. But quite a few were very pessimistic," she says. "When I talk to students about the theory behind this, at the end of my talk, I say people need to make a leap of faith and be open to the experience of their patients. So I think people will slowly come around."

Hayes Wilson, MD, chief of rheumatology at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, says doctors are willing to accept any treatment that helps their patients.

"I think we rheumatologists are pretty open minded," Wilson tells WebMD. "Speaking for myself, I am a pragmatist. I am for anything that works for my patients. There is a group of patients acupuncture works for, a minority of patients, and that is absolutely fine with me."

Wilson says that one of his partners treats arthritis patients with acupuncture and tells him that it works well - with one drawback.

"It is not a cure," Wilson says. "You have to keep coming back. In my experience, patients do it for a while and sort of lose interest."

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