Acupuncture offers a low cost, effective alternative to surgery for osteoarthritis of the knee

There have been nurse-led group acupuncture clinics in St Albans, UK, for people with knee osteoarthritis, since 2008. A group of researchers from the Peninsula Medical School at Plymouth University evaluated the service up to the end of 2010.

Patients attending the clinics would otherwise have been referred to an orthopaedic surgeon, and so evaluation was made from the patients’ data from both the referral centre and the acupuncture clinics. The data included baseline characteristics of the condition, attendance at the clinics, self-assessed reports on symptoms, function and well-being over at least two years.

Ninety patients were assessed in the clinics, of whom 41 were still attending after one year, and 31 after 2 years. The patients who attend reported significant improvement in symptoms including pain, stiffness and knee function from as early as 1 month into treatment at the acupuncture clinic to two years into treatment.

This evaluation shows the service provides long-term symptom relief in a third of patients, saving about £100,000 a year, and untold benefits from avoiding the trauma and disruption of surgery.

Source: Acupuncture in Medicine

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First Published August 2012

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