Acupuncture better than exercises for arthritic knee pain

knee painMedical acupuncture has shown to be effective in the treatment of osteoarthritic knee pain, with benefits maintained for at least six months.1,2

Leg muscle strengthening have also been shown to be effective and are recommended in the  UK national clinical guidelines as a core treatment of knee osteoarthritis.

Medical acupuncture however is not included in these guidelines.

This is despite a comprehensive network meta-analysis study which compared various physical treatments for knee osteoarthritis, showing that not only is medical acupuncture effective, but more effective than strengthening exercises!4

The issue seems to be costs, economic modelling showed that it’s cheaper to had out pills, so patients seeking treatment in the NHS for knee osteoarthritis are generally denied the beneficial effects of acupuncture to help them manage pain and maintain knee function.

Thankfully at the clinic we are not obliged to follow such guidelines, which is arguably to the benefit of our patients who gain significant relief form a medical acupuncture based approach to the treatment of knee arthritis.

By Simon




  1. White A, Foster NE, Cummings M, Barlas P. Acupuncture treatment for chronic knee pain: a systematic review. Rheumatology. 2007 Jan 10;46(3):384-90.
  2. Manheimer E, Linde K, Lao L, Bouter LM, Berman BM. Meta-analysis: acupuncture for osteoarthritis of the knee. Annals of internal medicine. 2007 Jun 19;146(12):868-77.
  3. February NC. Osteoarthritis http://guidance. nice. org. uk. CG59/(accessed 10/06/13). 2008.
  4. Corbett MS, Rice SJ, Madurasinghe V, Slack R, Fayter DA, Harden M, Sutton AJ, Macpherson H, Woolacott NF. Acupuncture and other physical treatments for the relief of pain due to osteoarthritis of the knee: network meta-analysis. Osteoarthritis and cartilage. 2013 Sep 1;21(9):1290-8.


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