Acupuncture can offer short-term pain relief and improved joint functioning for people with osteoarthritis of the knee, a study finds.

To date, there is only limited scientific evidence that acupuncture actually works. But many osteoarthritis sufferers are turning to the ancient Chinese treatment as an alternative to pain medications, some of which have recently been linked to increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

In this study, researchers at the Charite University Medical Center in Berlin, Germany tested the effects of acupuncture on nearly 300 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, the joint most often affected by the disease.

“Acupuncture treatment had significant and clinically relevant short-term effects,” researchers say.

For the study, 294 patients with chronic osteoarthritis of the knee were randomly selected to receive either acupuncture or simulated acupuncture, while another group was put on a waiting list. This latter group was used as a “control” group so the researchers could accurately measure the effect of the therapy.

Patients were given acupuncture in 12 sessions over eight weeks. Reserchers group followed the patients for one year after treatment. “Patients with osteoarthritis of the knee who received acupuncture had significantly less pain and better function after eight weeks than patients who received minimal acupuncture or no acupuncture,” researchers say.

“However, after 26 and 52 weeks, exploratory analysis indicated that the differences between acupuncture and minimal acupuncture were no longer significant,” they added.

Based on these findings, researchers believes that acupuncture could be an effective alternative to other treatments for osteoarthritis. “Patients who suffer from chronic pain due to osteoarthritis of the knee could try acupuncture treatment to reduce pain and stiffness and improve physical function,” researchers conclude.

Originally posted News Fix