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Acupuncture for Osteoarthritis

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Acupuncture is back in focus for its ability to reduce pain and improve functional mobility in patients with osteoarthritis – the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. Researchers from the University of Manitoba, Canada conducted a meta-analysis of 12 trials consisting of 1,763 patients with osteoarthritis. All trials compared true acupuncture with sham acupuncture, conventional treatments and no treatments. The study found that acupuncture is effective in reducing pain intensity levels, increasing mobility and improving quality of life scores.

A subgroup analysis reveals that patients receiving acupuncture treatments for intervention periods greater than 4 weeks have greater reductions in pain intensity levels than patients receiving acupuncture over a shorter duration of time.

As osteoarthritis is often associated with ‘wear and tear’ degeneration of joint cartilage over time, conventional treatments include medications to control pain and inflammation, physical therapy, occupational therapy, cortisone and hyaluronic acid derivative injections, and joint replacement.

Details of the Study

According to the University of Manitoba researchers, this study only examined manual acupuncture and excluded electro-acupuncture to eliminate electrical stimulation as a variable. The sorting process was stringent and excluded non-randomized studies and studies wherein superficial needling was used as part of the sham acupuncture techniques. The researchers found 14,449 relevant citations and sifted this number down to 12 unique trials of 1,763 patients to ensure that only quality studies were examined in the meta-analysis.

The most common acupuncture points used for the sample size of 1,763 patients were ST36, ST34, Xiyan, GB34, and SP9. Other acupuncture points include SP10, ST40, LV3, ST44, GB29, SP5, DU20, BL60, GB43, GB30, and extra points including EX31, EX32, and EXLE5. Most studies included manual acupuncture techniques to evoke de qi at least once during each treatment period. De qi is a combination of bodily sensations induced by acupuncture needling combined with physiological responses to the stimulation. De qi sensation is often described as dull, heavy, deep pressure, pulling, numb, aching, spreading, radiating, electrical, refreshing, relieving and tingling.

Several important strengths become apparent. First, manual acupuncture without any additional electrical stimulation is effective in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Acupuncture was found both safe and effective in the quality studies reviewed. Additionally, acupuncture was found cost-effective for the treatment of osteoarthritis.

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This web site is run by an Arthritis Specialist based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. On this site you will find news about the latest in arthritis, information about research results in the field, tips and information and diet and exercise, and much more.

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This web site is run by an Arthritis Specialist based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. On this site you will find news about the latest in arthritis, information about research results in the field, tips and information and diet and exercise, and much more.

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