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Acupuncture Eases Pain for Those Waiting for Arthroplasty

But the treatment's benefits vanish after three months

MONDAY, Sept. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Acupuncture can offer acute knee pain patients awaiting knee replacement surgery temporary relief from pain and mobility problems, according to the findings of a randomized trial published in the September issue of Rheumatology.

Lyn Williamson, of Great Western Hospital in Swindon, U.K., and colleagues compared the results of six weeks of physiotherapy, six weeks of western acupuncture, or regular management in 181 patients awaiting knee arthroplasty for severe osteoarthritic knee pain.

The researchers found that while all groups had similar pain and mobility levels at first, acupuncture patients experienced a 10 percent drop in pain on the Oxford Knee Scores after seven weeks compared to controls. But these benefits (mean score of 36.8 for acupuncture, 39.2 for physiotherapy, 40.3 for controls) disappeared after three months.

Physiotherapy patients stayed one day less in hospital than acupuncture patients, or a mean of 6.50 days versus 7.77, the report indicates.

"We have demonstrated that patients with severe knee osteoarthritis can achieve a short-term reduction in Oxford Knee Scores when treated with acupuncture," the authors write. "However, we failed to demonstrate any other clinically or statistically significant effects between the groups. Both interventions can be delivered effectively in an out-patient group setting at a district general hospital."

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