Acupuncture Continuing Education

Acupuncture Reduces Knee Osteoarthritis Pain

New research discovers acupuncture and moxibustion effective for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. A combination of acupuncture and moxibustion was discovered more effective than an injection-supplement combination. The researchers concluded that acupuncture was both safe and effective. In addition, acupuncture and moxibustion showed long term results.

Acupuncture points were chosen based on local pain indications and syndrome differentiation. Both local and distal acupuncture were applied on the affected acupuncture meridians. Acupuncture was applied to UB23 (BL23, Shenshu) and local Ah Shi points with lifting, thrusting and rotating techniques. Reinforcing and reducing methods were applied according to differential diagnostics. Moxibustion was applied with a moxa stick over local painful sites following acupuncture. Acupuncture was applied once per day for 5 days comprising 1 session. A two day break between a total of 2 sessions was given.

Another group did not received acupuncture but instead received a treatment of oral supplements and injections. In a comparison of the two groups, acupuncture was found significantly more effective in the long-term relief of knee pain due to osteoarthritis over the supplement/injection group. The second group received oral administration of glucosamine sulfate combined with knee joint cavity injections. The injections included sodium hyaluronate and triamcinolone acetonide acetate.

The results of this study demonstrating the effectiveness of acupuncture and moxibustion for the treatment of knee pain are consistent with a recent meta-analysis of 14 randomly controlled trials involving a total of 3,835 patients. The meta-analysis published the following conclusion, “Acupuncture provided significantly better relief from knee osteoarthritis pain and a larger improvement in function than sham acupuncture, standard care treatment, or waiting for further treatment.” The study documented that acupuncture for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis is “better at relieving pain and restoring function” than both conventional biomedical care and sham acupuncture.”


Acupuncture needles are pictured here.

Xu, L., L. Jing, K. He, J. L. Wang, and Y. Wang. "[Treatment of knee osteoarthritis with acupuncture and moxibustion: a randomized controlled trial]." Zhongguo zhen jiu= Chinese acupuncture & moxibustion 33, no. 10 (2013): 871-876.

Saudi Med J. 2012 May;33(5):526-32. Needle acupuncture for osteoarthritis of the knee. A systematic review and updated meta-analysis. Cao L, Zhang XL, Gao YS, Jiang Y.

The effect of acupuncture (vs. different types of controls) on knee pain—a literature review. Can evidence-based medicine help us to understand the mechanism of acupuncture better? S. Parekh., University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester, UK. QJM (2012). Oxford Journals. doi: 10.1093/qjmed/hcs021.

Berman BM, Lao L, Langenberg P, et al. Effectiveness of acupuncture as adjunctive therapy in osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized, controlled trial. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2004;141(12):901–910.

Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2012 May;32(5):395-8. Comparison of the clinical therapeutic effects between electroacupuncture and warming needle moxibustion for knee osteoarthritis of kidney deficiency and marrow insufficiency pattern/syndrome.

Gao J, Ouyang BS, Zhang Y, Li J, Yang HZ, Ji LL, Wu YJ, Wang W. Department of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Suzhou Hospital of TCM, Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China.

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