Pilot study testing whether a combined treatment of acupuncture and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is more effective than acupuncture or TENS alone for treating knee osteoarthritis (OA).

Kazunori Itoh, corresponding author1 Satoko Hirota,2 Yasukazu Katsumi,2 Hideki Ochi1, and Hiroshi Kitakoji1 

Abstract

Background

The present study tests whether a combined treatment of acupuncture and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is more effective than acupuncture or TENS alone for treating knee osteoarthritis (OA).

Methods

Thirty-two patients with knee OA were randomly allocated to four groups. The acupuncture group (ACP) received only acupuncture treatment at selected acupoints for knee pain; the TENS group (TENS) received only TENS treatment at pain areas; the acupuncture and TENS group (A&T) received both acupuncture and TENS treatments; the control group (CT) received topical poultice (only when necessary). Each group received specific weekly treatment five times during the study. Outcome measures were pain intensity in a visual analogue scale (VAS) and knee function in terms of the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC).

Results

The ACP, TENS and A&T groups reported lower VAS and WOMAC scores than the control group. Significant reduction in pain intensity (P = 0.039) and significant improvement in knee function (P = 0.008) were shown in the A&T group.

Conclusion

Combined acupuncture and TENS treatment was effective in pain relief and knee function improvement for the sampled patients suffering from knee OA.


1Department of Clinical Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Meiji University of Oriental Medicine, Kyoto 629-0392, Japan

2Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Meiji University of Oriental Medicine, Kyoto 629-0392, Japan

corresponding authorCorresponding author.

Received April 4, 2007; Accepted February 29, 2008.

Chin Med. 2008; 3: 2. Published online 2008 February 29. doi: 10.1186/1749-8546-3-2. PMCID: PMC2268695

Copyright © 2008 Itoh et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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