Acupuncture Continuing Education

Acupuncture Knee Arthritis Relief With Moxa Technique


Acupuncture has been proven to have significant beneficial effects in treating knee osteoarthritis in the elderly. Researchers from the Department of Orthopedics at Pucheng County Hospital conducted a controlled trial, analyzing the effectiveness of joint static traction exercise therapy and warm needle acupuncture. The study results shows that warm needle acupuncture markedly improves knee joint function, reduces serum inflammatory factors, regulates bone metabolism indicators, and enhances overall effectiveness.

The results of this study demonstrate that traction exercise therapy produces significant outcomes. However, the addition of acupuncture to the traction regimen greatly improves outcomes above and beyond that of traction monotherapy. As a result, the researchers conclude that the integrative medicine approach (i.e., acupuncture plus traction) to the treatment of knee osteoarthritis in the elderly is more effective than usual care monotherapy. [1]

The 84 patients included in the study met the diagnostic criteria for knee osteoarthritis. They were all between 60 and 75 years, with BMIs ranging from 18 kg/m² to 30 kg/m². Patients were excluded from the study if they had local skin infections around the knee joint, significant heart, liver, lung, or kidney diseases, infectious diseases, or allergies. Breastfeeding or pregnant women, those who had taken bone metabolism drugs within three months before admission, and those in critical condition making it difficult to assess the efficacy and safety of new drugs were also excluded.

After the experiment, the total effective rate of the warm needle acupuncture group was significantly higher than that of the control group. Both groups had significantly higher Lysholm scores after treatment, with a more pronounced increase in the warm needle acupuncture group. The levels of serum C-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) were significantly lower after treatment in both groups, with a more significant decrease observed in the warm needle acupuncture group. Similarly, the levels of serum type I procollagen amino-terminal propeptide and parathyroid hormone were significantly lower after treatment in both groups, with a more marked decrease in the warm needle acupuncture group.

The effectiveness criteria were defined as follows:

  • Recovery: Normal knee joint function with the disappearance of clinical symptoms.
  • Marked Effect: Basic restoration of knee joint function with the basic disappearance of clinical symptoms.
  • Improvement: Improvement in knee joint function and clinical symptoms.
  • Ineffective: Failure to meet the above criteria or worsening of symptoms.

Before and after treatment, all patients were assessed using the Lysholm Knee Score Scale (LKSS), which scores from 0 to 100 points, with higher scores indicating better knee joint function. Fasting venous blood was taken from both groups, centrifuged at 4°C (3000 rpm/min, centrifugal radius of 10 cm), and the supernatant was divided into two portions and stored at -20°C. The first portion was tested for CRP and ESR using the turbidimetric method. The second portion was tested for serum type I procollagen amino-terminal propeptide and parathyroid hormone levels using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays.

The control group received conventional joint static traction exercise therapy. Patients were seated in a relaxed position, with the upper end of the joint static traction device fixed near the proximal end of the hip and the lower end fixed near the distal end of the fibula. Knee flexion and extension exercises were then performed, with the intensity set based on the patient's comfort. Each session lasted 30-45 minutes and was conducted twice a day for one month.

In addition to the treatment provided to the control group, the warm needle acupuncture group received needling treatment at the following acupoints:

  • SP10 (Xuehai)
  • GB34 (Yanglingquan)
  • ST36 (Zusanli)
  • EX-LE04 (Neixiyan)
  • ST35 (Dubi)

Mild attenuating and reinforcing manipulation were employed to stimulate a deqi sensation. Moxa (2 cm long) was connected to the needle ends and ignited. The therapy lasted for 30 minutes and was conducted daily for one month. The result demonstrate that acupuncture improves outcomes for elderly patients with knee osteoarthritis. 

1 Ji Ning, Quan Erwei, Effect of warm needle acupuncture on Serum Inflammatory Factors and Bone Metabolic Markers in Elderly Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis, Guizhou Medical Journal, 2024, Vol. 38, No. 2.


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