Arthritis: Acupuncture vs Surgery

Acupuncture is a medicine dating back over 3,000 years from China. Well documented for its benefits in relieving knee pain due to osteoarthritis, it is also a much cheaper option compared to having knee replacement. A new 2 year study compared 90 patients, an average of 71 years of age, with knee osteoarthritis who received acupuncture in 2008. The participants were given acupuncture once (1) a week for a month and then the frequency was decreased to one (1) treatment every six weeks.  After 1 year, 41 patients were still continuing therapy and 31 were still receiving acupuncture treatments after 2 years.

Doctors examining the patients noticed significant improvements in their pain levels, stiffness, and functional capacity even after just one month. Specially trained nurses also looked into 2 key factors:

1. whether acupuncture improved care while reducing costs (which it did)

2. whether is was a feasible alternative to expensive knee replacements (which it did)

Although, knee replacement has a long history of success it may not be for everyone. For instance one-in-seven patients reports severe pain after the procedure and considering the cost of $8,099 per knee it comes at a steep price many might not be able to afford.

The researchers also stated that although acupuncture is not right for everyone if only 66% of the participants would opt to continue acupuncture care it would approximate a health service savings of over 125K every year.