CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

Acupuncture Helped Osteoarthritis Patients

A study published in the November 2006 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism examined the use of acupuncture as an extension of routine medical care and whether the effects of treatment last after therapy is discontinued.

Acupuncture is one of the most studied complementary and alternative medicine therapies, and its effectiveness for various indications, including nausea following chemotherapy, was given a nod by an National Institutes of Health Consensus Panel.

In this new study of acupuncture's effectiveness on osteoarthritis,
researchers conducted a randomized, controlled trial of a large number of patients with chronic pain due to osteoarthritis of the knee or hip.

The authors conclude that "the present results show that, in patients with chronic pain due to OA (osteoarthritis) of the knee or hip who were receiving routine primary care, addition of acupuncture to the treatment regimen resulted in a clinically relevant and persistent benefit."

In an accompanying editorial in the same issue, authors from China note that acupuncture is part of traditional Chinese medicine, which views the body differently than biomedicine in that it emphasizes the body's healing ability and aims for long-term healing, not necessarily a cure. In addition, acupuncture features close patient-provider relationships that involve enhanced interaction and communication, which can be beneficial in managing osteoarthritis. They also suggest that in reality, few osteoarthritis patients use acupuncture as the sole treatment and that a lack of information about how well it works has probably meant that acupuncture is an undervalued treatment option that could be an important element of a multidisciplinary approach to treating osteoarthritis. The authors note that the current study "reflects as closely as possible the conditions of daily medical practice, and as the authors point out, maximizes external validity and clinical relevance." They also relate the limitations of the study, and point out "that the biologic mechanism of acupuncture is still unclear, the study by Witt et al furthers our understanding of acupuncture and adds to the accumulated evidence supporting its efficacy. Such evidence warrants extensive use of acupuncture in various chronic pain conditions."


"Acupuncture in Patients With Osteoarthritis of the Knee or Hip," Claudia M. Witt, Susanne Jena, Benno Brinkhaus, Bodo Liecker, Karl Wegscheider, Stefan N. Willich,Arthritis & Rheumatism, November 2006; 54:11; pp. 3485-3493; (DOI: 10.1002/art.22154).

"Acupuncture for Treating Osteoarthritis of the Knee and the Hip," Tao Liu and Chen Liu, Arthritis & Rheumatism, November 2006; 54:11; pp. 3375-3377; (DOI: 10.1002/art.22155).

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Michael H. Cohen, Esq.; 468 North Camden Dr. | Beverly Hills, California 90210 | 310-844-3173