Laser moxibustion eases pain, improves function in knee OA

10 Jun 2021
An elderly woman suffered third degree burns following a botched procedure of moxibustion.

Treatment with laser moxibustion for 4 weeks is associated with statistically and clinically significant pain reduction and function improvement in patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA), reveals a study.

The investigators conducted a double-blind randomized clinical trial (4-week treatment and 20-week follow-up) to examine the effects of laser moxibustion on pain and function in patients with knee OA. Three hundred ninety-two symptomatic knee OA patients with moderate-to-severe clinically significant knee pain were randomized (1:1) to either laser treatment or sham laser (control group).

Overall, 12 sessions of laser moxibustion or sham laser treatments on the acupuncture points at the affected knee/s were carried out three times a week for 4 weeks. The change in Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) pain score from baseline to week 4 was the primary outcome measurement.

Of the participants, 364 (92.85 percent) completed the trial. The median WOMAC pain score showed a significant reduction at week 4 in the active group compared with the sham group (2.1, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.6–2.5; p<0.01).

Active laser treatment resulted in significant pain reduction (3.0, 95 percent CI, 2.5–3.6; p<0.01) and function improvement (14.8, 95 percent CI, 11.9–17.6; p<0.01) compared to sham laser at week 24. The active group also saw a significant improvement in the physical component of the quality of life relative to sham controls at week 4 (3.2, 95 percent CI, 1.3–5.0; p=0.001) up to week 24 (5.1, 95 percent CI, 3.3–7.0; p<0.001). There were no serious adverse effects noted.

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