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A large randomised trial carried out in China has demonstrated a significant effect of electro-acupuncture (EA) on knee osteoarthritis (KOA). Four hundred and eighty patients with KOA were randomly assigned to receive EA, manual acupuncture (MA) or sham acupuncture (SA) three times per week for eight weeks. Five obligatory acupoints and three adjunct acupoints were used in both EA and MA groups. The obligatory acupoints included Dubi ST-35, Neixiyan EX-LE5, Ququan LIV-8, Xiyangguan GB-33 and an ashi point. Adjunct acupoints were selected at the acupuncturist’s discretion, depending on which channel was affected. Deqi was required for both EA and MA groups. EA (2/100 Hz) was carried out at Ququan LIV-8, Xiyangguan GB-33 and two adjunct acupoints in the EA group. In the SA group, eight non-acupoints were needled superficially. Participants who received EA showed a significantly higher response rate compared with SA at week 8, although the difference between MA and SA groups did not meet statistical significance at this time (response rates at week 8 were 60.3%, 58.6%, and 47.3% in EA, MA, and SA groups, respectively). The therapeutic benefits of EA for pain and function were maintained through week 26. Interestingly, by week 16, the MA group also showed significant benefits in pain and function compared with SA, and these were sustained through week 26.

Efficacy of Intensive Acupuncture Versus Sham Acupuncture in Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2021 Mar;73(3):448-458.