Acupunture Shows Limited Benefit in Treatment of Osteoarthritis


An Australian study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association was designed to evaluate the treatment of osteoarthritis using needle acupuncture, laser acupuncture, sham laser acupuncture, or usual care.  The study included 282 subjects that were over the age of 50.  This was a randomized blinded study evaluating pain, function, and quality of life at 12 weeks and then at one year. 

Initial results at 12 weeks did show improvement in overall pain in the needle and laser acupuncture groups.  However, at the one year follow-up there was no statistical difference on overall pain or level of function.  Based upon these results, it appears that the short term pain reduction with acupuncture in treating osteoarthritis does not warrant treatment.  The results of this study do not identify any long term functional improvements. 

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JAMA (2014; 312: 1313-1322)

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