Acupuncture for Chronic Knee Pain: A Critical Appraisal of an Australian Randomized Controlled Trial
© 2016 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Background: Chronic knee pain caused by osteoarthritis (OA) is common in the general population. For knee OA with chronic moderate-to-severe pain, acupuncture treatment is recommended. Previous randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and meta-analyses have indicated that acupuncture can decrease pain and improve function in patients with knee OA. Interestingly, a recent Australian RCT by Hinman et al. reported that acupuncture was not beneficial for knee OA. Objective: As the quality of the Hinman study is of significance to clinical decision-making, the current authors decided to perform a critical appraisal of this study. Methods: Critical appraisals were performed on the study design, statistical methods, and conclusions. Ethical concerns and the use of control groups are discussed in this article. Results: The RCT by Hinman et al. had multiple flaws in study design, acupuncture protocol, sample-size calculation, results analyses, and thus conclusions; in addition, there are ethical concerns regarding bias from a high likelihood of conflicts of interest for the researchers. Conclusions: Rather than adding to the understanding and information about acupuncture's benefits in knee OA at 12 weeks, the study by Hinman et al. added more confusion to the available evidence. The results and conclusions of this RCT, thus, may not be valid or appropriate. For the interests of patients, clinicians, and health care policy makers regarding the use of acupuncture for chronic knee pain, the abovementioned flaws should be taken into consideration. In addition, ethical concerns and conflicts of interest in the study may motivate medical scientists to reconsider the value of this study.
Acupuncture, Chronic Knee Pain, Critical Appraisal, Knee Osteoarthritis
Zhou, Kehua; Fan, Arthur Yin; and Wang, Tong, "Acupuncture for Chronic Knee Pain: A Critical Appraisal of an Australian Randomized Controlled Trial" (2016). Articles & Book Chapters. 222.