A new study from the MD Anderson Cancer Center determined patients with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee who are treated with traditional Chinese acupuncture (TCA) do not experience any more benefit than those receiving sham acupuncture (placebo).

The team did find that the communication style of the acupuncturist could have a significant effect on pain reduction and satisfaction in patients.

The full results from the study is available in the  September print issue of Arthritis Care & Research, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology.

In the study, Maria Suarez-Almazor, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues compared the efficacy of TCA with sham acupuncture in OA of the knee. Additionally, researchers measured the effects of provider-patent interactions in the response to acupuncture. A total of 455 knee OA patients received either TCA or sham acupuncture treatments and 72 healthy controls were included. Acupuncturists were trained to interact in 1 of 2 communication styles—high ("I’ve had a lot of success with treating knee pain") or neutral ("It may or may not work for you") expectations. Patients were then randomized and nested within 1 of 3 style groups—waiting list, high, or neutral.

Researchers found no statistically significant differences between patients in the TCA and those in the sham acupuncture group. The TCA and sham groups had substantial reductions in the joint-specific multidimensional assessment of pain (J-MAP) at -1.1 and -1.0, respectively while the control group saw a reduction of -0.1. J-MAP measures the intensity, frequency, and quality of pain with response ranges from 1 to 7 where higher values indicate more pain.

The study, "A Randomized Controlled Trial of Acupuncture for Osteoarthritis of the Knee: Effects of Patient-Provider Communication." is available online.

(Source: Press Release)