Acupuncture May Help Knee Arthritis
Short-Term Benefit Seen in Study; Long-Term Effects Unclear
July 7, 2005 --
in the knee - at least in the short run.
Researchers report the finding in The Lancet. They studied nearly
300 people with knee osteoarthritis.
Acupuncture's long-term effects on knee osteoarthritis now need to be
tested, write the researchers. They included Claudia Witt, MD, of Berlin's
Institute of Social Medicine, Epidemiology, and Health Economics.
cause of pain and disability. Osteoarthritis most often affects the
fingers, hips, knees, feet, or spine.
it causes degeneration of body joints. It develops when
cartilage, the lining of joints that allows smooth movement between opposing
bones, starts to break down. Swelling and inflammation in the affected joint
are a major
Year-Long Study, 2-Month Treatment
Witt's study lasted one year. Acupuncture treatments only lasted for eight
Some patients got 12 sessions of real acupuncture over eight weeks. Others
got fake acupuncture treatments.
The fake acupuncture didn't place or use needles correctly. Patients were
told that two different types of acupuncture were being tested. They didn't
know that one procedure was phony.
For comparison, a third group didn't get either treatment right away.
Instead, they went on an eight-week waitlist for real acupuncture.
All patients were also allowed to take pain-relieving drugs during the
study. medications and
Patients completed surveys about knee pain and functional disability eight
weeks, six months, and one year into the study.
Real acupuncture came out on top in the first survey. Patients getting real
acupuncture had bigger improvements in knee pain and function than the other
two groups. Those receiving real acupuncture treatment reported significantly
lower scores on pain and disability compared with participants in the other
At eight weeks, about half of the real acupuncture group had improved their
scores by at least 50%.
The same level of improvement was reported by 28% of those getting fake
acupuncture and 3% of those on the waitlist, write the researchers.
Those patterns didn't hold in the follow-up surveys.
At six months and one year, there weren't significant differences between
the groups, write the researchers.
Those on the waitlist eventually got real acupuncture. They followed the
same pattern as the first real acupuncture group -- short-term improvement that
faded after treatment ended.