Acupuncture Relieves Chronic Pain in Osteoarthritis Patients

Acupuncture helped patients with chronic pain to due osteoarthritis of the knee or hip.

"Patients with chronic pain due to OA of the knee or the hip who were treated with acupuncture in addition to routine care showed significant improvements in symptoms and quality of life compared with patients who received routine care alone," the study reported.

"The present results show that, in patients with chronic pain due to OA 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."

According to Reuters, "In an accompanying editorial in the same issue, Tao Liu and Chen Liu of Jilin University, Changchun, Jilin, China, point out 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 OA. They also suggest that in reality, few OA 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 OA."

True enough -- all clinical trials have limitations and state so explicitly. Nonetheless, this study adds to a number of studies specifically offering evidence of efficacy as to a complementary and alternative medical therapy.

Now the provocative question will be: if a CAM therapy such as acupuncture is shown effective, will it be considered malpractice to fail to offer such a therapy to the patient, on the ground of failed informed consent?


* The Informed Consent Obligation in Complementary and Alternative Medicine