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Odd Conclusion of Acupuncture Study on Chronic Knee Pain

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How Researchers Concluded (Wrongly) That Acupuncture Doesn’t Help With Knee Pain

Sometime even well-meaning research can take strange twists, and come up with odd conclusions that just don’t make sense.

Consider this situation. A 50-year old man suffers from frequent back pain. He works a great deal outdoors and tends to stress his back quite often. He gets relief by taking some Motrin every day as needed. The medication makes the pain go away and he feels much better.

At some point, he decides he doesn’t need the medication any longer, and stops taking it. Within a day, the pain has returned. Would this surprise you? Not likely, right? You wouldn’t think anyone would draw a conclusion from his experience that the Motrin didn’t help relieve the pain, would you?

Well, as you will see from the excerpt below,  a research study was published by JAMA on acupuncture and chronic knee pain that basically drew that type of conclusion. It found that the acupuncture treatment relieved pain, but the pain returned when acupuncture was stopped. Thus, the conclusion was that acupuncture is not effective for pain relief. Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

I think one of the main points missed here is the benefit of acupuncture treatment over an extended period of time. True long term relief and healing often takes longer than hoped, but it can happen. Read this and see what you think – and please share if you like it!

In the clinical trial, 282 adults age 50 and older with chronic knee pain were randomly assigned to needle or laser acupuncture treatments or a sham laser acupuncture treatment. After 12 weeks, participants who received the acupuncture reported modest improvements in pain. Then the treatments stopped, and nine months later, the participants had knee pain again. This, weirdly, led the researchers to conclude that acupuncture just doesn’t offer relief from chronic knee pain.

Sounds confusing, right? Save for undergoing surgery, most chronic pain problems can never really be permanently solved. Even for treatments that make the discomfort vanish, it tends to come back once said treatment stops. That’s sort of a given. “Acupuncture can be used as pain management, but it doesn’t necessarily heal the pain permanently,” says Michelle Goebel-Angel, licensed acupuncturist at Chicago’s Raby Institute for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern.

There’s more. The researchers of this small study posit that having a larger sample size might have yielded more significant results. Which is exactly what experts uncovered in 2012 meta-analysis of nearly 18,000 patients, which found that needle acupuncture does help with osteoarthritis, as well as other types of chronic pain.

Source – Prevention Magazine

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