Objective: To observe therapeutic efficacy of osteoarthritis treated by electroacupuncture, and explore its function of promoting cartilage restoration.
Methods: According to random digital table, sixty cases of knee osteoarthritis (60 knees) were randomly divided into an electroacupuncture group and a physiotherapy group, 15 cases (30 knees) in each one. The electroacupuncture was applied at Neixiyan (EX-LE 4), Dubi (ST 35), Heding (EX-LE 2) and Xuehai (SP 10) in the electroacupuncture group, once every other day. The physiotherapy group was treated by medium-frequency therapeutic apparatus every day. For both groups, 4 weeks of treatment were required. The Lysholm knee scoring scale (LKSS) was used to evaluate and compare the knee joints function before and after treatment. At the same time, the GE Signa EXCITE Twin Speed HD 1.5T was used to take MRI examination of knee joints, and measure the T2 values in 10 sub-regions of the cartilage of tibiofemoral joints.
Results: Compared before treatment, the LKSS score of both groups were improved with significant differences except item demands for support (P < 0.01, P < 0.05). Between the two groups after treatment, there were significant differences on total score, item instability and swelling (all P < 0.05), the electroacupuncture group was better than the physiotherapy group, but no significant difference on the other items (all P > 0.05). In the electroacupuncture group after treatment, T2 value in anterior lateral tibial sub-region (LTa) was significantly lowered (P < 0.05), but no significant difference in the other nine sub-regions (all P > 0.05). In the physiotherapy group, T2 value in any sub-region was not significantly different before and after treatment (all P > 0.05).
Conclusion: Electroacupuncture could effectively improve the symptom, sign and knee joint's function of patients with knee osteoarthritis. Compared with physiotherapy, it has more superior effect and considered as a better non-operative treatment for osteoarthritis. Electroacupuncture also has positive influence on T2 value in cartilage, indicating that electroacupuncture may have the function of promoting cartilage restoration.