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A comparison of acupuncture with advice and exercises on the symptomatic treatment of osteoarthritis of the hip – a randomised controlled trial
  1. Roisin Haslam, senior physiotherapist
  1. Princess Margaret, Hospital, Swindon, haslamroisin{at}


    Acupuncture is becoming a common technique within the physiotherapy profession as a treatment modality for pain relief; however, few randomised controlled trials have been undertaken to assess the effectiveness of acupuncture, particularly in the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip. Therefore, a randomised trial to compare the effectiveness of acupuncture with advice and exercises on the symptomatic treatment of OA of the hip was carried out. Thirty-two patients awaiting a total hip arthroplasty were randomly allocated to either the experimental group, (A), to have six sessions of acupuncture each lasting up to 25 minutes, or the control group, (B), to be given advice and exercises for their hip over a six week period. Group A consisted of three men and 13 women, and group B consisted of four men and eight women. The average age in group A was 66 years and in group B it was 68 years. Patients were assessed for pain and functional ability, using a modified version of the WOMAC questionnaire, pre-treatment, immediately post-treatment and at eight weeks post-treatment.

    The pre-treatment WOMAC scores in the two groups were similar (p=0.85). There was a significant improvement in group A (decrease in WOMAC score) immediately post-treatment (p=0.002) and this was maintained at the eight-week follow-up (p=0.03). There were no significant changes in group B. When the changes in WOMAC scores were compared between groups, a significantly greater improvement was found between pre-treatment and immediately post-treatment in group A, compared with group B (p=0.02). The changes between pre-treatment and the eight-week follow-up also showed a significant improvement in group A compared with group B (p=0.03).

    In conclusion, this trial supports the hypothesis that acupuncture is more effective than advice and exercises in the symptomatic treatment of OA of the hip.

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