A study published in Lancet investigated the efficacy of acupuncture compared with minimal acupuncture and with no acupuncture in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.
Acupuncture is a commonly used procedure to treat many types of patients with chronic pain.
By random allocation, patients with chronic osteoarthritis of the knee were assigned into three groups. One group consisting of 150 were allocated to the acupuncture group, second group with 76 patients were allocated to the minimal acupuncture group and the third group with 74 patients were the control group. Specialized physicians in 28 outpatient centers administered acupuncture. Acupuncture was given in 12 sessions over 8 weeks period. The patients also completed questionnaires at the beginning of the trial and after 8 weeks, 26 weeks, and the last one at the end of the year. An index called the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis (WOMAC) index was used to assess the primary outcome.
The results showed that at week 8, the mean baseline-adjusted WOMAC index was 26·9 in the acupuncture group, 35·8 in the minimal acupuncture group and 49·6 in the waiting list group. This shows that pain and joint function was more improved in patients who had undergone acupuncture than with minimal acupuncture or no acupuncture. But at the end of one year there was no significant difference between the acupuncture and minimal acupuncture groups. The study has shown that there is a significant benefit with acupuncture but this benefit decreases over time.