Background Acupuncture is commonly used by patients in India with chronic painful musculoskeletal disorders. There are, however, few well-designed studies of its efficacy.
Objectives This study describes a randomized controlled trial to evaluate acupuncture as a useful treatment adjunct in the management of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods We conducted a prospective, partially blinded, controlled, randomized clinical trial of patients receiving true acupuncture compared with a control group of patients who received simulated acupuncture. All patients met American College of Rheumatology criteria for RA and had tried conservative symptomatic treatments other than acupuncture. All patients received 25 sessions over a period of 12 weeks. Seven acupuncture points were chosen. Primary outcome is the changes in the pain score. Secondary outcomes included the changes in the ACR core disease measures, DAS 28 score and the number of patients who achieved ACR 20 at week 12.
The trial was conducted from May 2011 to August 2012.
Results Fifty patients participated in the study: 25 in the acupuncture group and 25 in the control group. The number of tender joints was significantly reduced for the true acupuncture groups. Physician's global score was also significantly reduced for the true group and patient's global score was also significantly reduced for the true group compared with the control group during the study period (P=0.01). The largest difference in total scores was observed at 2 months of therapy. Fatigue and anxiety were the most significantly improved symptoms during the follow up period. However, activity and physical function levels did not change. Acupuncture was well tolerated, with minimal adverse effects. Detailed results will be presented.
Conclusions : This study paradigm allows for controlled and blinded clinical trials of acupuncture. We found that acupuncture significantly improved symptoms of RA. Symptomatic improvement was not restricted to pain relief and was most significant for fatigue and anxiety.
Disclosure of Interest : None declared
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