A new study shows that acupuncture does help arthritis of the knee. reducing pain by up to 40 per cent.
There was also a 40 per cent improvement in mobility of the affected knee.
Some 570 patients, all aged over 50 and with knee pain they had suffered more than a month, took part in the 26-week American study.
The volunteers were given either genuine acupuncture, ‘sham’ acupuncture or a selfhelp course in managing their condition. They also continued to receive conventional treatment, including painkilling drugs.
By the eighth week, the acupuncture patients saw a significant increase in knee function, compared to the other groups. By week 14, they were suffering significantly less pain.
Dr Stephen Straus, director of the National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which funded the study, said: ‘For the first time, a clinical trial with significant rigour, size and duration has shown that acupuncture reduces the pain and functional impairment of osteoarthritis of the knee.’
There has been growing acceptance of acupuncture by doctors which has seen the 2,500-year- old needle-based therapy move into the mainstream of treatments routinely given to patients.
Other research has shown it helps women by easing the pain after breast cancer surgery, while childless women who have acupuncture during fertility treatment are more likely to become pregnant.