Study: Acupuncture doesn't help knee pain
Researchers in Australia say that the benefits of acupuncture in healing knee pain may be greatly exaggerated.
In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, scientists from the University of Melbourne say that neither needle acupuncture or laser acupuncture made a big difference in relieivng knee pain.
They studied a group of 282 chronic knee patients ages 50 and older and assigned them to receive either needle acupuncture, laser acupuncture, sham laser acupuncture (where the laser is inactive), or no acupuncture. In the trial with laser acupunctures, neither the patient nor the acupuncturists knew when the laser was sham or active.
After 12 weeks of treatment, the needle acupuncture group and sham acupuncture groups reported some improved physical function compared with the group that received no acupuncture. Participants receiving either needle or laser acupuncture also reported modest improvements in pain control. But after one year, neither pain nor physical function were improved. Overall, the researchers found no significant differences between acupuncture and sham laser acupuncture.
The study authors concluded that “benefits of acupuncture were exclusively attributed to incidental effects." They noted that subjective measures, such as levels of pain and self-reported physical function, can be susceptible to a placebo effect.