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Can acupuncture help oestoarthritis?

Q:  My husband has oesteoarthritis in the hips with intractible pain left hip. Cannot find a painkiller he can tolerate. Cannot have hip replacement untiL investigations for recent TIA are completed with any neccessary treatment. Would acupuncture help for the pain?

A: As our factsheet on osteoarthritis shows.  Please click here



there is a some evidence that acupuncture can provide relief. The evidence is not sufficiently clear nor in sufficient quantity to allow us to make any formal claims for efficacy, but this is an area where we feel that there is likely to be a growing body of evidence, as there was with back pain and migraines, which will enable us to say with confidence that treatment may be beneficial.


The crucial aspect of treating conditions like osteoarthritis of the hip, however, is not whether or not it 'works', because ultimately many sufferers will have a hip replacement, but the extent to which treatment relieves the pain and for how long. We tend to take the view that acupuncture treatment will provide some relief from pain, whether this is through needling or simply through a form of placebo effect, as our critics claims, but for us the issue is how much relief and how sustainable it is. If treatment buys 48 hours of rest after which the pains return, then to put it crudely a great deal will depend on the resources one has or the generosity and flexibility of the practitioner. We have heard of people being happy to pay for bi-weekly or even tri-weekly treatment, but more common is for a practitioner to offer a number of shorter consultations within a week in order to keep the costs down. If treatment does have a measurable effect, this is a route worth pursuing. If any effect is very short-lived, however, then it may not be worth the time and expense.


The best advice, as always, is to visit a BAcC member local to you for a brief face to face assessment of what they believe they can do. If you do decide to go ahead, it will be extremely important to set measurable outcomes and to have a fixed review period agreed from the start. If nothing is happening after four or five sessions it may be wise to call it quits; our experience is that by this stage there should be some tangible change, even if short-lived.   

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