Acupuncture for Knee Osteoarthritis

Acupuncture treatment consists of very fine metallic needles inserted into specific points in the body. Many scientists believe acupuncture triggers the production of the bodys own natural painkillers.

History of Acupuncture:

Acupuncture originated ancient China. It is based on the belief that life energy flows through the body along pathways called meridians and that health problems and pain result if the flow of energy is blocked. Stimulating specific points in the body through the insertion of fine needles restores the flow of energy.

Only a licensed professional should be performing acupuncture as improper needle placement can cause pain (or injury). There may be a mild discomfort upon insertion of the needles, but they usually cannot be felt after this. Proper procedures must be followed, e.g. treatment site swabbed with disinfectant, the use of disposable needles, to avoid infection.

A 26 week study on acupuncture for knee osteoarthritis funded by NCCAM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine) and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, both which are divisions of National Institutes of Health, found that an extended course of acupuncture to be beneficial in both relieving pain and improving functioning in those with knee osteoarthritis.

In this study, 570 people were divided into three groups. One received acupuncture, one sham acupuncture, and one received education. Patients still received standard treatment from their physicians, including medications.

The results were not immediate. After 8 weeks there was an improvement in function but not pain. After 14 weeks, there was also an improvement in pain. The improvements in pain and functioning at 14 weeks held throughout the rest of the trial.

Overall, the group receiving treatment with acupuncture resulted in about a 40% reduction in knee pain and 40% improvement in functioning, significantly higher than the two other groups. This study is the longest and largest study of acupuncture for knee osteoarthritis to date. Previous studies of acupuncture for osteoarthritis have had conflicting results, possibly because they were too small.

See press release in December/2004 - last modified 2012.

More physicians are referring patients for acupuncture treatments than ever before for pain relief, often as part of pain management program.

As with any treatment, the results of acupuncture for the treatment of knee pain will vary from person to person.

Click here for more information on knee osteoarthritis.