RESEARCH ROUNDUP: Acupuncture for osteoarthritis of the knee

A number of systematic reviews have been conducted which show evidence in favour of acupuncture for pain relief (Cao 2012; Ezzo, 2001; Li 2018; Manheimer 2007; Selfe 2008; White 2007). These systematic reviews showed acupuncture to be more effective than a variety of comparators, including sham acupuncture and waiting list controls. However, White et al (2007) stated that acupuncture is significantly superior to sham provided it meets the criteria for adequacy. An adequate ‘dose’ of acupuncture for OA knee, according to White and colleagues, is at least six treatments, at least one per week, with at least four points needled for each painful knee for at least 20 minutes, and either needle sensation (de qi) achieved in manual acupuncture, or electrical stimulation  of sufficient intensity to produce more than minimal sensation.


Cao L, Zhang X-L, Gao Y-S, Jiang Y. Needle acupuncture for osteoarthritis of the knee. A systematic review and updated meta-analysis. Saudi Medical Journal. 2012;33(5):526-32


Ezzo J, Hadhazy V, Birch S, Lao L, Kaplan G, Hochberg M, et al. Acupuncture for osteoarthritis of the knee: a systematic review. Arthritis and rheumatism. 2001;44(4):819-25


Manheimer E, Linde K, Lao L, Bouter LM, Berman BM. Meta-analysis: Acupuncture for Osteoarthritis of the Knee. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2007;146(12):868-W202


Selfe TK, Taylor AG. Acupuncture and osteoarthritis of the knee: a review of randomized, controlled trials. Family & community health. 2008;31(3):247-54


White A, Foster NE, Cummings M, Barlas P. Acupuncture treatment for chronic knee pain: a systematic review. Rheumatology. 2007;46(3):384-90