Acupuncture May not be Easing your Knee Pain

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Oct 20, 2014

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If you have been undergoing an acupuncture therapy to eliminate knee pain from your life, the findings of a new study will reduce your belief to `sham’.
According to authors of the study "among patients older than 50 years with moderate to severe chronic knee pain, neither laser nor needle acupuncture conferred benefit over sham for pain or function. Our findings do not support acupuncture for these patients."

Acupuncture And Knee Pain

What is Sham Acupuncture?

Any form of fake acupuncture which is used so that the researchers can test the benefits of traditional acupuncture is known as sham acupuncture. The researchers wanted to check if the effect was created due to a placebo effect or it was a result of acupuncture. A placebo effect is when a person believed that his symptoms have improved despite undergoing a fake treatment or medication.

"Subjective measurements such as pain are particularly subject to placebo responses," said study co-author Kim Bennell, a professor of physiotherapy at the University of Melbourne in Australia. "This can be attributed to factors such as the treatment setting, patient expectations and optimism, the physician's confidence in the treatment, and how the physician and patient interact."

The Study

Around 300 adults who suffered from chronic knee pain received either needle acupuncture, laser acupuncture, sham laser acupuncture or no treatment at all. Participants who did not receive any treatment were categorized as the control group. For sham treatment, a machine was pre-programmed to not to deliver the laser. Nor the patient neither the acupuncturist knew that it was a fake treatment.

Acupuncture And Knee Pain

These participants were given 20-minute sessions up to twice a week for three months. They were made to fill questionnaires about their knee pain at the beginning of the study, after three months and one year later.

Three months later, the participants undergoing the needle, laser and sham acupuncture experienced similar reductions in knee pain while walking compared to the control group. According to the authors, the pain improvement was not there after a year and the short-term improvements were too small to make significant changes in the study.

Also, neither the needle nor the laser acupuncture gave significantly higher relief than sham laser acupuncture, says the study.

The patients who underwent needle acupuncture also experienced little improvement in physical function in their knees after three months compared to the control group. However, this improvement did not last a year and a similar improvement was seen in the sham group.

So, what kind of treatment you must receive to alleviate the knee pain is easy to comprehend now.

Image courtesy: Getty Images

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