A little Context for you

A lot to read, but important for you to know why we do what we do.

Evidence from research suggests that moxibustion (a herb burnt on the needle for warmth) is more effective than conventional drug therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee, as well as in rheumatic conditions in general, and also that it improves benefits when added to conventional drugs (Choi 2011).

Several systematic reviews of acupuncture for osteoarthritis of peripheral joints/knee and hip/knee alone have concluded that it is statistically superior to sham acupuncture and to usual physician care, and similar in benefit to some other active interventions such as exercise regimes (Kwon 2007; White 2007; Manheimer 2007, 2010).

All of these, together with the expert consensus guidelines of the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (Zhang 2008, 2009), recognise that it has clinically relevant benefits and a favourable safety profile, and they recommend acupuncture as a treatment option for osteoarthritis.

In addition, it has been found to be cost-effective (Reinhold 2008).

There have been many randomised controlled trials of acupuncture and/or moxibustion for osteoarthritis: the most recent seven studies (six for knee and one for hip) reported significantly better changes in the acupuncture than the control groups (Lev-Ari 2011, Sheng 2010, Zhu 2010, Wu 2010, Lu 2010, Ding 2009, Ahsin 2009).

In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules.

The resulting biochemical changes influence the body's homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being.

Stimulation of certain acupuncture points has been shown to affect areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress (Hui 2010).

Acupuncture treatment may help to relieve pain and improve function in patients with osteoarthritis by:

stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to release of endorphins and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord.

inhibiting pain through the modulatory effects of endogenous opioids.

  regulating metabolism-related genes and pathways and inhibiting the activity of cytokines that are mediators of inflammation, including interleukin (IL)-1, IL-6 and tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha thus reducing inflammation.

by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors, increasing local microcirculation (Komori 2009), which aids dispersal of swelling.

All the information on this page is taken from the british acupuncture council website, you should visit it as it has much more information about this and many other conditions, make yourself a cup of tea though.