According to a new study, the TCM therapy of moxibustion may safely relieve pain and improve function for up to 18 weeks among patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.
A new study published online in Arthritis Research and Therapy on June 24, 2014 showed that moxibustion, a therapy used in traditional Chinese medicine, may safely relieve pain and improve function for up to 18 weeks among patients with knee osteoarthritis.
Patients were randomly assigned to receive either active moxibustion therapy or a sham moxibustion treatment 3 times a week for 6 weeks at the acupoints Dubi (ST 35), estra-point Neixiyan (EX-LE 4), and an Ashi (tender) point. Response to the therapy was assessed using the Western Ontario and McMaster University Osteoarthritis Scale (WOMAC VA 3.1) at weeks 3, 6, 12, and 24 following treatment.
The researchers, led by Ling Zhao, MD, from Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, found greater improvements in WOMAC pain score among patients in the active treatment group at weeks 3, 6, 12, and 24 when compared with scores for the control group. Physical function scores also improved among the active treatment group at weeks 3, 6, and 12, but waned by week 24 compared to the placebo group. The authors state that although the mechanism of action of moxibustion therapy is still not well understood, it is thought to be similar to that of acupuncture, and that “the findings of the present trial show that moxibustion, like acupuncture, can be a useful adjunctive treatment for patients with [knee osteoarthritis].”
Jamie Starkey, LAc, lead acupuncturist at the Tanya I. Edwards Center for Integrative Medicine Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, states that it will take data from many more well-designed, randomized, controlled studies" before moxibustion becomes part of the routine management of patients with knee osteoarthritis. However, the study is a step forward in providing supporting data of this noninvasive therapy’s effectiveness.
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