Severe knee osteoarthritis: a randomized controlled trial of acupuncture, physiotherapy (supervised exercise) and standard management for patients awaiting knee replacement

L. Williamson, M. R. Wyatt, K. Yein and J. T. K. Melton

The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of standardized western acupuncture and physiotherapy on pain and functional ability in patients with severe osteoarthritic knee pain awaiting knee arthroplasty. 181 patients awaiting knee arthroplasty underwent acupuncture for 6 weeks, physiotherapy for 6 weeks and received standardized advice. The results showed that there was no baseline difference between groups. At 7 weeks, there was a 10% reduction in Oxford Knee Score in the acupuncture group which was a significant difference between the acupuncture and the control group.  These effects were no longer present at 12 weeks. The authors conclude that they have demonstrated that patients with severe knee osteoarthritis can achieve a short-term reduction in OKS when treated with acupuncture. However, they failed to demonstrate any other clinically or statically significant effects between the groups. Both interventions can be delivered effectively in an out-patient group setting at a district general hospital.

Rheumatology Advance Access published online on June 29, 2007

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