Acupuncture and Arthritis


Acupuncture has been widely used in managing osteoarthritis symptoms.  Many reviews articles made favorable conclusions to the benefits of acupuncture, even though results of the published clinic trials were not consistent.

In this most recent article, the authors identified randomized controlled trials (up to May 2014) from over the world. They included 12 trials (1763 participants) comparing acupuncture to sham acupuncture, no treatment or usual care.

They adjudicated most trials to be unclear (64%) or high (9%) risk of bias. Acupuncture use was associated with significant reductions in pain intensity (MD -0.29, 95% CI -0.55 to -0.02, I2 0%, 10 trials, 1699 participants), functional mobility (standardized MD -0.34, 95% CI -0.55 to -0.14, I2 70%, 9 trials, 1543 participants), health-related quality of life (standardized MD -0.36, 95% CI -0.58 to -0.14, I2 50%, 3 trials, 958 participants). Subgroup analysis of pain intensity by intervention duration suggested greater pain intensity reduction with intervention periods greater than 4 weeks (MD -0.38, 95% CI -0.69 to -0.06, I2 0%, 6 trials, 1239 participants).

The authors concluded that “the use of acupuncture is associated with significant reductions in pain intensity, improvement in functional mobility and quality of life. While the differences are not as great as shown by other reviews, current evidence supports the use of acupuncture as an alternative for traditional analgesics in patients with osteoarthritis.”

For original article, please read:

BMC Complement Altern Med.   Manyanga T. et al. 2014 Aug 23;14:312. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-14-312.

Pain management with acupuncture in osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis.