Acupuncture for Knee Osteoarthritis – does it work?

Acupuncture for knee osteoarthritis

Acupuncture would probably work for any joint with osteoarthritis.

Have you ever wondered whether you would get any sort of pain relief with acupuncture for knee osteoarthritis? Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years and has been shown to be remarkably effective in treating knee osteoarthritis. Actually it is probably good at treating any joint but the knee is always the one studied!

I can’t explain what acupuncture is better than Wikipedia so here is their description:

Acupuncture is an alternative medicine methodology originating in ancient China that treats patients by manipulating thin, solid needles that have been inserted into acupuncture points in the skin. According to Traditional Chinese medicine, stimulating these points can correct imbalances in the flow of ‘qi’ through channels known as meridians. However, scientific research has not found any histological or physiological correlates for qi, meridians and acupuncture points, and some contemporary practitioners needle the body without using the traditional theoretical framework.

This is the type of acupuncture I did when I was practicing as a chiropractor but termed it ‘dry needling’ to differentiate it. I used the needles locally to the area of complaint and in tight muscles both of which were very successful.

When you have acupuncture sometimes the therapist will warm the needle. Traditionally this was done by burning moxibustion. Moxibustion is ground up mugwort herb and made into a fluff. This is then burnt to heat the acupuncture needle. However even the ancient Chinese art acupuncture can’t resist updating in this day of modern technology and so electroacupuncture was devised. This is where a small electrical current is passed between two needles which heats them. The points that are stimulated remain the same.

Does Acupuncture for Knee Osteoarthritis Work?

This article reported in HealthCMI is about acupuncture for knee osteoarthritis. It reports  a new study has  been done to investigate which of these techniques gives better results.

This is the conclusion:

♦ Over sixty-four percent of the electroacupuncture group received a score from markedly effective to completely cured.

♦ Forty percent of the warming needle moxibustion group received a score ranging from markedly effective to completely cured.

♦ The electroacupuncture group received a higher score for the relief of joint pain.

♦ The acupuncture with moxibustion group received higher scores for the relief of joint stiffness.

The researchers concluded that each technique has specific advantages and noted that, “The total efficacy of electroacupuncture is superior to that of the warming needle moxibustion.”

I think those results speak for themselves!

Drawbacks for Acupuncture for Knee Osteoarthritis

Apart from the obvious problem if you are needle phobic I think the biggest drawback is cost. In this study the subjects were given 12 treatments (3 sessions per week for 4 weeks). The average cost of going to to get acupuncture for knee osteoarthritis is approximately $60 to $120 so your initial treatment alone is going to set you back $720 at the VERY least! OK if your medical insurance pays for it but not all do and some of us don’t have any as it is prohibitively expensive.

Then we know that, no matter how successful your acupuncture for knee osteoarthritis is, you will need ‘top up’ sessions as you are not cured and still have the underlying condition.

I am a great believer in self help but I don’t suggest that you rush out and learn how to use acupuncture for knee osteoarthritis. But take this study comparing electroacupuncture, TENS and ice massage were all equally effective saying

The results showed (a) that all three methods could be effective in decreasing not only pain but also the objective parameters in a short period of time; and (b) that the treatment results in TENS, EA and ice massage were superior to placebo.

The objective tests were

pain at rest, stiffness, 50 foot walking time, quadriceps muscle strength, and knee flexion degree.

The great thing about ice massage and TENS is that you can do these yourself at home. If you pick TENS you have to buy the machine of course but ice is pretty cheap! You learn  how to effectively use ice and massage yourself in Joint Control for a one off payment of $77 and that will last you a lifetime.

Also you can make small lifetsyle changes and learn different treatments (apart from acupuncture for knee osteoarthritis) in my free 3 day course

So yes, acupuncture for knee osteoarthritis is an good form of treatment but I believe is expensive in the long term. Well anyway I know which I think is best value but admittedly I may be just the tiniest bit biased….

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