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Acupuncture Treats Osteoarthritic Pain

Acupuncture has been shown to significantly reduce pain, improve functional mobility, and improve quality of life for patients diagnosed with osteoarthritis.

Acupuncture works to treat osteoarthritis by increasing blood flow to the affected area, which triggers an anti-inflammatory response. By stimulating the body's natural pain-relieving system, neurotransmitters are released which block pain signals from reaching the brain.

In 2021, a systematic review was conducted to determine the benefits of acupuncture for decreasing symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. The authors looked at 32 randomized controlled trials involving 2,484 of participants with knee osteoarthritis. These studies compared the effectiveness of several modalities including acupuncture, sham acupuncture, and electroacupuncture.

The systematic review concluded the following:

  • Patients who received acupuncture experienced a reduction in pain and an improvement in function, compared to those who received sham acupuncture.

  • The positive effects of acupuncture were consistent across different types of acupuncture such as electroacupuncture.

  • The benefits of acupuncture were long-lasting, with effects still evident 12 weeks after end of the treatments.

Additionally, studies have shown that adding electrostimulation to acupuncture may offer increased results including; blood flow, nerve conduction, and stem cell release to osteoarthritis patients. In 2017, researchers conducted a meta-analysis to determine the benefits of electroacupuncture for knee osteoarthritis. The researchers looked at 11 randomized controlled trials comprising a total of 695 patients.

The results of the meta-analysis were:

  • Electro-acupuncture was better than regular acupuncture at reducing pain and improving function.

  • Electro-acupuncture was most effective when participants received more than four consecutive weeks of treatment.

Acupuncture, particularly electro-acupuncture, is a safe and effective treatment for knee osteoarthritis that can be used alongside standard medical care to alleviate pain and improve function with low risk of adverse reaction.

Please give us a call at 301.880.3232 and it will be our pleasure to schedule a comprehensive evaluation for you.



Acupuncture as a Therapeutic Treatment for Osteoarthritis. (n.d.). Evidence Based Acupuncture. Retrieved May 30, 2023, from

Chen, N., Wang, J., Mucelli, A., Zhang, X., & Wang, C. (2017). Electro-Acupuncture is Beneficial for Knee Osteoarthritis: The Evidence from Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 45(05), 965–985.

Salazar, T. E., Richardson, M. R., Beli, E., Ripsch, M. S., George, J., Kim, Y., Duan, Y., Moldovan, L., Yan, Y., Bhatwadekar, A., Jadhav, V., Smith, J. A., McGorray, S., Bertone, A. L., Traktuev, D. O., March, K. L., Colon-Perez, L. M., Avin, K., Sims, E., & Mund, J. A. (2017). Electroacupuncture promotes CNS-dependent release of mesenchymal stem cells. Stem Cells (Dayton, Ohio), 35(5), 1303–1315.

Tian, H., Huang, L., Sun, M., Xu, G., He, J., Zhou, Z., Huang, F., Liu, Y., & Liang, F. (2022). Acupuncture for Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review of Randomized Clinical Trials with Meta-Analyses and Trial Sequential Analyses. BioMed research international, 2022, 6561633.

Zhang, R., Lao, L., Ren, K., & Berman, B. M. (2014). Mechanisms of Acupuncture–Electroacupuncture on Persistent Pain. Anesthesiology, 120(2), 482–503.



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