Sinew acupuncture for knee osteoarthritis: a randomized, patient- and assessor-blinded, sham-controlled trial


Name Organisation
  • Wing Chung Lam
  • Wing Yi Lam
  • Fung Man Wu
  • Pui Ling Yip
  • Zi Ha Poon
  • Rui Heng Cai
  • Chi Wun Cheung
  • Ching Yi Leung
  • Tsz Wing Ng
  • Wai Lun Ng
  • Kwan Wai Tsang
  • Yan Yu Choi
  • Shuk Yuen Lam
  • Chiu On Chong
  • Andrew Lau
  • The Hong Kong Tuberculosis Association--The University of Hong Kong Chinese Medicine Clinic cum Training and Research Centre (Wan Chai District), Hong Kong
  • Haiyong Chen
  • School of Chinese Medicine, The University of Hong Kong
  • Department of Chinese Medicine, The University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital, Shenzhen, China
  • Fei Jiang
  • Yue He
  • Department of Statistics & Actuarial Science, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
  • Vince Vardhanabhuti
  • Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
  • Kwok Yin Au
  • Hong Kong Institute of Integrative Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China
  • Wing-Fai Yeung
  • School of Nursing, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China
  • Bacon Fung-Leung Ng
  • Eric Tat-Chi Ziea
  • The Chinese Medicine Department, Hospital Authority, Hong Kong



Knee osteoarthritis (KOA) is a common cause of disability in the elderly. Nonpharmacological treatments are widely used for KOA. This study assessed the efficacy and safety of sinew acupuncture for patients with KOA.



A randomized, patient- and assessor-blinded, sham-controlled trial was conducted from June 2017 to August 2018 in the Hong Kong Tuberculosis Association Chinese Medicine Clinic cum Training Centre of the University of Hong Kong. A total of 86 eligible patients were randomized into sinew acupuncture (n = 43) and sham acupuncture group (n = 43). Patients received ten sessions of acupuncture/sham acupuncture for 4 weeks, followed by a 6-week follow-up. Outcomes including the visual analogue scale (VAS), Western Ontario and McMasters University Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC), Timed Up & Go Test (TUG) and 8-Step Stair Climb Test (SCT) were measured.



The pain density in both groups significantly reduced from baseline as demonstrated by the reduction of VAS scores in the two group. There is no statistical difference between the two groups. The subdomains of WOMAC (pain, stiffness physical function) were improved in both groups. TUG and SCT tests indicated walking and climbing of patients were improved in sinew acupuncture group, but only climbing was improved in sham group. However, no significant difference was found between the two groups. No serious adverse effects were found during the study period. Patients in sham group had a significant wrong-guess rate (P < 0.001).



Sinew acupuncture safely reduced the pain intensity and WOMAC in patients with KOA. Similar effects were observed with sham acupuncture which may probably due to placebo effects or true effects of sham acupuncture. 



The study methodology and protocol of the study was published in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies.  Detail could be referred to the link below:

Date: 2017-05-01
Author: Please refer to content