Acupuncture May Help Knee Arthritis
Short-Term Benefit Seen in Study; Long-Term Effects Unclear
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.
Acupuncture for knee osteoarthritis is also covered in a Lancet
"Certainly, a major benefit patients report is that acupuncture makes
them feel better. Making patients feel better is important," write
biochemist Andrew Moore and colleagues. They work at the Pain Research Unit at
Churchill Hospital in Oxford, England.
Possibly, some trials have failed to adequately measure that benefit, they
But "we are still some way short of having conclusive evidence that
acupuncture is beneficial in arthritis or in any other condition, other than in
a statistical or artificial way," write Moore and colleagues.
"Acupuncture is widely used by patients with chronic pain although there
is little evidence of its effectiveness," write Witt and colleagues.
Experts from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services see
acupuncture a little differently.
Two years ago, they issued an assessment of acupuncture for osteoarthritis.
They had reviewed 19 studies on the topic. Not all dwelt on knee arthritis.
Most studies showed some benefit from acupuncture compared with no
treatment, the review states. However, it also states that real acupuncture
didn't have an edge over sham acupuncture in most studies.
Overall, "the evidence was probably sufficient' to justify acupuncture
as a second- or third-line treatment for a patient who isn't responding to
conventional treatments, not tolerating medication, or is experiencing
recurrent pain," states the review.
But the evidence didn't justify using acupuncture as an initial treatment,
the review continues.
In 1997, a panel of scientists from the National Institutes of Health stated
that while acupuncture studies were mixed, they had seen "promising"
results for acupuncture in adults with postoperative and chemotherapy-related
nausea and vomiting, as well as postoperative dental pain.