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The effectiveness of acupuncture as an adjunctive therapy to oral pharmacological medication in patient with knee osteoarthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Medicine (Baltimore). 2023 Mar 17;102(11):e33262. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000033262.


BACKGROUND: We aimed to find out whether the combined treatment of acupuncture and oral medication is more effective than sole oral medication in reducing pain and improving knee function at the end of treatment and after short-term period (4-6 weeks after treatment). Second, if it is effective, we investigated whether the effect surpasses the minimal clinically important difference.

METHODS: Articles published between January 1, 1992, and August 31, 2022, were searched in PubMed, Cochrane, and Embase. The PICO (population, intervention, comparison, and outcome) of this study are as follows: Population: knee osteoarthritis patients; Intervention: acupuncture (non-sham acupuncture) + oral medication (analgesic or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs); Comparison: oral medication (analgesic or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs); Outcome: visual analog scale (VAS) or Western Ontario and McMaster University (WOMAC) osteoarthritis index.

RESULTS: The combined treatment of oral medication and adjuvant acupuncture showed statistically significant improvement in VAS and WOMAC scores at the end of acupuncture treatment and short-term follow-up time (between 4 and 6 weeks after acupuncture). In addition, the degree of improvement of VAS and WOMAC index showed effects beyond minimal clinically important differences compared to pretreatment at both the end of acupuncture treatment and the short-term follow-up of acupuncture treatment.

CONCLUSION: The existing evidence suggests that adjuvant acupuncture may play a role in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. However, physicians should be aware of adverse effects such as hematoma in adjuvant acupuncture treatment.

PMID:36930121 | DOI:10.1097/MD.0000000000033262

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