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Acupuncture has a better clinical effect on knee osteoarthritis (KOA) than physiotherapy, which may be due to its ability to promote cartilage repair, Chinese clinicians suggest. Fifty participants with KOA were randomly divided into an acupuncture group and a physiotherapy group. The acupuncture group received treatment at seven acupoints on each knee (manual needling at HedingM-LE-27, XuehaiSP-10, JimenSP-11, LiangqiuST-34 and ZusanliST-36, plus electro-acupuncture at lateral and medial Xiyan MN-LE-16) once every other day for four weeks. Participants in the physiotherapy group received physiotherapy treatment five times a week for four weeks. Both groups showed significant reductions in osteoarthritis symptom scores. Reductions in the acupuncture group were significantly better than for the physiotherapy group for total symptom scores, as well as in the specific domains of pain, stiffness and physical function. In addition, measures of cartilage degeneration obtained through MRI scanning suggested that the hydration and biochemical composition of the knee cartilage had improved following acupuncture treatment, but not after physiotherapy, suggesting that acupuncture may promote cartilage repair.

Influence of acupuncture in treatment of knee osteoarthritis and cartilage repairing. Am J Transl Res. 2016 Sep 15;8(9):3995-4002


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