Background: Knee osteoarthritis is a major cause of pain and functional limitation. Complementary and alternative medical approaches have been employed to relieve symptoms and to avoid the side effects of conventional medication. Moxibustion has been widely used to treat patients with knee osteoarthritis. Our past researches suggested heat-sensitive moxibustion might be superior to the conventional moxibustion. Our objective is to investigate the effectiveness of heat-sensitive moxibustion compared with conventional moxibustion or conventional drug treatment.
Methods: This study consists of a multi-centre (four centers in China), randomised, controlled trial with three parallel arms (A: heat-sensitive moxibustion; B: conventional moxibustion; C: conventional drug group). The moxibustion locations are different from A and B. Group A selects heat-sensitization acupoint from the region consisting of Yin Lingquan(SP9), Yang Lingquan(GB34), Liang Qiu(ST34), and Xue Hai (SP10). Meanwhile, fixed acupoints are used in group B, that is Xi Yan (EX-LE5) and He Ding (EX-LE2). The conventional drug group treats with intra-articular Sodium Hyaluronate injection. The outcome measures above will be assessed before the treatment, the 30 days of the last moxibustion session and 6 months after the last moxibustion session.
Discussion: This trial will utilize high quality trial methodologies in accordance with CONSORT guidelines. It will provide evidence for the effectiveness of moxibustion as a treatment for moderate and severe knee osteoarthritis. Moreover, the result will clarify the rules of heat-sensitive moxibustion location to improve the therapeutic effect with suspended moxibustion, and propose a new concept and a new theory of moxibustion to guide clinical practices.
Trial registration: The trial is registered at Controlled Clinical Trials: ChiCTR-TRC-00000600.