Acupuncture was believed by sixteenth century Chinese doctors to correct an energy imbalance by stimulating the body’s 14 major meridians, or energy carrying channels. The technique was used to resist or overcome illnesses or conditions by correcting these imbalances.
It is currently thought that acupuncture’s effect on pain reduction is due to the release of endorphins, the chemicals that block pain.
A recent study published in the British Medical Journal, performed by researchers in Spain, indicates that improvement to symptoms of knee osteoarthritis being treated with diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory NSAID, was greater when combined with acupuncture.
The researchers had noted the previous studies suggested that acupuncture was beneficial for people with osteoarthritis, but that these had not ruled out a “placebo effect”. So to carry this forward they conducted a trial in which 97 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee were prescribed diclofenac. Half of the group received acupuncture treatment once a week for 12 weeks, the others half were given placebo treatment with retractable needles that did not perforate the skin.
The study participants complete standardized questionnaires, a visual pain indeed and a quality of life profile both before and after the trial.
After the final treatment, the total score averaged 9.5 for the acupuncture group and 33.4 for the placebo group on a scale of 1 to 100. The acupuncture group scored significantly lower on pain, stiffness and function. The final pain scores were 10.6 with acupuncture and 37.2 with the retractable needles. In addition, the acupuncture group took significantly less diclofenac.
The researchers concluded that acupuncture as a complementary therapy to the pain medication for knee osteoarthritis was more effective than the pain medication alone.