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A network network meta-analysis (NMA) by a Chinese research group has compared the effects of different acupuncture methods on pain, stiffness and physical function for knee osteoarthritis (KOA). The NMA of 16 randomised controlled trials (a total of 2065 KOA patients), which mostly examined short-term effectiveness, showed that warm needle and electro-acupuncture could decrease pain and improve physical function scores with statistical significance, compared with other treatments. Warm needling and electro-acupuncture were both superior in terms of improvements in pain outcomes  compared to education, sham needle and waiting list. No significant difference was found for stiffness scores.

Efficacy Comparison of Five Different Acupuncture Methods on Pain, Stiffness, and Function in Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Network Meta-Analysis. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018 Nov 1;2018:1638904.


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