Tue Dec 19, 2006 2:58pm EST
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Patients with chronic pain related to osteoarthritis experience "marked clinical improvement" with acupuncture plus routine care, German researchers have shown.
They randomly assigned 632 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip to undergo up to 15 sessions of acupuncture over a 3-month period or to a "control" group that got no acupuncture. A second group of 2921 patients did not consent to random placement, and all of these patients received acupuncture. The participants in both trials were allowed to continue on their usual treatment.
The results of the study are published in the medical journal Arthritis and Rheumatism.
After 3 months, significantly greater improvements were seen in scores on a standardized osteoarthritis severity scale in the acupuncture group than in the control group, Dr. Claudia M. Witt, of Charite University Medical Center, Berlin, and colleagues report.
Overall, 34.5 percent of the acupuncture group had a good response to treatment after 3 months, compared with 6.5 percent of the control group. Quality of life improvements were also more pronounced in the acupuncture group compared with the control group.
Treatment success was maintained through 6-month follow-up in both trials.
Adding acupuncture to routine primary care "resulted in a clinically relevant and persistent benefit," the investigators conclude, and "should be considered as a treatment option for patients with knee or hip osteoarthritis-associated chronic pain."
SOURCE: Arthritis and Rheumatism, November 2006.