Acupuncture Proven Successful in Treating Arthritis
A study by researchers at Charite University of Medicine in Berlin has found that acupuncture
can ease the pain and disability associated with arthritis. The study, published in Arthritis &
Rheumatism, looked at 712 patients split into two groups; one group of 357 were given
immediate acupuncture treatment and the remaining 355 started treatment three months later.
The benefits were measured on the widely used WOMAC osteoarthritis index, which measures
the severity of pain, stiffness and joint performance. Traditional arthritis treatments consisting of
anti-inflammatory drugs were continued alongside the acupuncture in all cases.
All patients scored about 50 on the scale at the beginning of the treatment. At the three-month
stage, the group that had undergone 15 acupuncture sessions scored about 30 -- a 36 percent
improvement after other factors were considered -- while the untreated group's scores remained
around 50. Six months later, the formerly untreated group showed the same level of improvement
after a three-month treatment.
The study did have some issues that may nullify the results in the eyes of some skeptics. It was
not double-blind, and the inexperienced acupuncturists were found to be just as effective as
experienced practitioners, even though an accompanying editorial by Jiln University Chinese
medicine teachers Tao Liu and Chen Liu stated experience was the most important factor.
Still, the scientists maintain the study results evidenced the usefulness of acupuncture, justifying
its use as a pain treatment, although the actual mechanism by which it works has not yet been
The German Ministry of Health is now considering a recommendation from a federal committee of
doctors and health insurers to include acupuncture in medical coverage, a move partly inspired
by the study results.