Acupuncture May Benefit Osteoarthritis Patients

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Recent clinical trials suggest that acupuncture may benefit patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, but the studies are not complete because they did not extend the trials past the time of treatment.

In a German trial (published in the Annals of Medicine in 2004), researchers studied 294 patients who had chronic knee osteoarthritis. The patients were assigned to a group receiving minimal acupuncture or to a control group.

The minimal acupuncture sessions lasted eight weeks. After an eight-week delay, the control group received traditional acupuncture therapy. Most of the patients in both groups were told that they were receiving traditional acupuncture.

After eight weeks, patients who received traditional acupuncture reported significantly less pain and stiffness in the affected knee than patients who received minimal acupuncture. At 26 and 52 weeks, no significant difference in pain or stiffness was observed between the groups.

Unfortunately, the minimal and traditional acupuncture groups were not compared statistically with a group of patients who received no acupuncture.

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