Osteoporosis: warm needle acupuncture beneficial in meta-analysis

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Takeaway

  • Warm needle acupuncture (WNA), whether given alone or as an adjunct to conventional medicine, increases bone mineral density (BMD) and decreases pain, although the evidence base is weak.

Why this matters

  • Clinicians should consider recommending WNA alone or as an adjunct to conventional medicine, but may wish to wait until the evidence is stronger.

Study design

  • Meta-analysis of 9 randomized controlled trials (n=572) that met eligibility criteria after search of PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Medline, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, Wanfang, and VIP databases.
  • Funding: Guangdong Province scientific and technical program.

Key results

  • The benefits of WNA as an adjunct to conventional medicine vs conventional medicine alone:
    • Increase in BMD of lumbar vertebrae (mean difference [MD], 0.06; P<.001 and>
    • Decrease in pain (assessed by visual analog scale) (MD, −1.10; P<.001>
  • The benefits of WNA alone vs conventional medicine alone:
    • Increase in BMD of the femoral neck (MD, 0.14; P<.001 and>
    • Increase in BMD of the greater trochanter (MD, 0.09; P<.001>

Limitations

  • Small sample sizes.
  • Poor quality of evidence.
  • High risk for bias.