Acupuncture for the Treatment of Pain of Osteoarthritic Knees

Arthritis Care Res. 1994 Sep;7(3):118-22. doi: 10.1002/art.1790070304.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine whether acupuncture was more effective than sham acupuncture in the reduction of pain in persons with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee.

Methods: Forty subjects (20 men, 20 women) with radiographic evidence of OA of the knee were stratified by gender and randomly assigned to either the experimental (real acupuncture) or control (sham acupuncture) groups. Subjects were treated three times per week for 3 weeks and evaluated at three test sessions. Outcome measures were: 1) the Pain Rating Index of the McGill Pain Questionnaire, 2) the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities (WOMAC) Osteoarthritis Index, and 3) pain threshold at four sites at the knee.

Results: The analyses of variance showed that both real and sham acupuncture significantly reduced pain, stiffness, and physical disability in the OA knee, but that there were no significant differences between groups.

Conclusions: Acupuncture is not more effective than sham acupuncture in the treatment of OA pain.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis / therapy*
  • Pain Measurement