Most Western doctors will laugh at you if you suggest this treatment.
But a new study published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology reveals that you’ll have the last laugh if you try it.
Over 60% of participants drastically improved their arthritis in two months. They got even better as they kept using it.
A research team led by the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine recruited 480 people aged 45–75 who had been diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis and who had been complaining of knee pain for more than six months.
They divided their participants into three groups: one received electroacupuncture, one received manual acupuncture, and one received sham acupuncture.
Electrodes were attached to the needles in all three groups, although the current was turned on in only the electroacupuncture group.
With manual acupuncture, the needles were inserted into the correct locations at the correct depths; in sham acupuncture, the needles were placed in the wrong places at the wrong depths.
After eight weeks with three treatments per week, the researchers measured the participants’ pain and function levels on the Numeric Rating Scale and the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index function subscale. Only those who improved significantly on both scales were counted as successfully treated cases.
Overall, 60.3% of the electroacupuncture group, 58.6% of the manual acupuncture group, and 47.3% of the sham acupuncture group reported that their treatments had been successful.
The electroacupuncture group was 13% better off than the sham treatment group. While it appeared that the manual treatment group had improved, the difference between them and the sham group was not statistically significant.
This means that, at eight weeks, only the electroacupuncture group had definitively improved.
However, the manual treatment group showed large and statistically significant improvements after 16 and 26 weeks, along with the electroacupuncture group.
Therefore, acupuncture—especially electroacupuncture—can improve function and reduce pain for people with knee osteoarthritis.