Acupuncture May Ease Knee Arthritis

The L.A. Times, December 21, 2004 | From Associated Press

The ancient Chinese therapy of acupuncture can help ease pain and improve movement for people with arthritis of the knee, a study concludes.

“For the first time, a clinical trial with sufficient rigor, size and duration has shown that acupuncture reduces the pain and functional impairment of osteoarthritis of the knee,” said Dr. Stephen E. Straus, director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

“These results also indicate that acupuncture can serve as an effective addition to a standard regimen of care and improve quality of life for knee osteoarthritis sufferers.”

In the largest clinical study of acupuncture reported to date, researchers studied 570 patients ages 50 and older with osteoarthritis of the knee.

The study was led by Dr. Brian M. Berman of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

The results were reported in Monday’s issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles to stimulate the body and improve health.

The patients all reported significant pain in their knees the month before joining the study, but had never experienced acupuncture, had not had knee surgery in the previous six months and had not used steroid or similar injections.

Overall, scientists said, those who received acupuncture had a 40% decrease in pain and a nearly 40% improvement in function.

The research was supported by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease.