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Quick Study

QUICK STUDY : A weekly digest of new research on major health topics

Tuesday, November 30, 2004; Page HE06


Acupuncture with medication seems to ease knee movement.

THE QUESTION Loss of cushioning in the knee can create considerable pain. Some people find relief from nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs); others turn to acupuncture. Might a combination treatment be more effective?

THIS STUDY randomly assigned 97 people diagnosed with osteoarthritis in one or both knees to take 50 milligrams of diclofenac, a prescription NSAID, as needed up to three times daily and to receive either acupuncture or fake acupuncture treatments weekly. For the fake treatment, needles did not puncture the skin. After 12 weeks, people who had received actual acupuncture along with medication had less pain and stiffness and greater physical functioning than those who had gotten the fake treatment. Those treated with acupuncture also took an average of 54 fewer diclofenac tablets during the study.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED BY THESE FINDINGS? People whose knees are affected by osteoarthritis.

CAVEATS The study did not measure how long the effects of acupuncture would last nor whether participants could tell whether they were receiving fake or actual acupuncture.

BOTTOM LINE People with osteoarthritis of the knee may want to ask a doctor about combining NSAIDs and acupuncture.

FIND THIS STUDY Nov. 20 issue of the British Medical Journal; abstract available online at www.bmj.com.

LEARN MORE ABOUT osteoarthritis at www.arthritis.organd acupuncture at nccam.nih.gov.

menstrual cramps

Painful periods may be related to a woman's stress level.

THE QUESTION Most women experience menstrual cramps, sometimes mild and other times severe enough to be disabling. Might stress contribute to this abdominal or low-back pain?

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© 2004 The Washington Post Company


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