A review, carried out by American researchers, of ten randomised, controlled trials (1456 participants) of acupuncture for osteoarthritis of the knee has concluded that it is an effective treatment for the pain and physical dysfunction caused by the condition. (Acupuncture and osteoarthritis of the knee: a review of randomized, controlled trials. Fam Community Health. 2008 Jul-Sep;31(3):247-54).

Analysis of the results of a large German randomised, controlled trial (RCT) has led to the conclusion that acupuncture can be a cost-effective adjunctive treatment for chronic osteoarthritis pain. Acupuncture treatment plus routine care was evaluated against routine care alone in 418 cases of chronic pain due to osteoarthritis of the knee or hip, using health insurance providers’ data and standardised questionnaires. Patients receiving acupuncture had an improved QoL associated with significantly higher costs over the three-month treatment period, compared with routine care alone. However, having performed a cost-effectiveness calculation, based on calculating quality-life adjusted years (QALYs) the authors concluded that acupuncture was a cost-effective treatment strategy in this patient group, with female patients achieving a better cost-effectiveness ratio than men. (Quality of life and cost-effectiveness of acupuncture treatment in patients with osteoarthritis pain. Eur J Health Econ. 2007 Jul 19; [Epub ahead of print]).