Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the United States, affecting more than 16 million Americans and approximately 75% of the population over age 50.Also known as degenerative joint disease, the condition causes the breakdown of cartilage in joints, leading to joint pain and stiffness. It can affect any joint in the body, but is most frequently seen in a person's hips, knees and spine.
Numerous pilot studies have been conducted both in the U.S. and overseas to find treatments to combat the effects of osteoarthritis (OA). Unfortunately, there is no known cure for the disease, and many of the current treatment options available either provide inadequate symptom relief or cause unwanted side-effects.
One form of treatment that appears to hold promise for OA sufferers is acupuncture. Thanks to a grant from the National Institutes of Health, the University of Maryland School of Medicine's (UMSM) Complementary Medicine Program is about to conduct an investigational research study to determine whether it can benefit people who suffer from osteoarthritis-related knee pain.
Dr. Katherine Wright, a research associate at the university, will coordinate the two-year study, multi-site study. In addition to UMSM, research will be conducted at Innovative Medical Research in Catonsville, Maryland; the Veterans Administration Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida; and the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
A total of 570 volunteers will be selected to participate in the study. In order to qualify, participants must meet the following criteria:
- subjects must be over 50 years of age;
- subjects must have at least mild knee pain on most days;
- subjects must have been diagnosed by their physician with osteoarthritis of the knee at least six months ago; and
- subjects have never received acupuncture treatment.
Volunteers will be subjected to a medical history, a brief physical exam, a standing x-ray of their knees and a series of questionnaires on symptoms and lifestyle related to OA. Participants who meet the criteria will be randomized into either an acupuncture group; a placebo acupuncture group; or a group arthritis education and self-help training group.
Volunteers will participate in the study for a total of 24 weeks and will be paid a stipend for their participation. All information will be kept in strictest confidence with public health and privacy acts. For more information on the study, please call:
In Baltimore: (410) 448-6279 or 6384
In New York: (212) 774-2626
In West Palm Beach: (561) 882-6652
or visit the Complementary Medicine Program's website at www.compmed.ummc.umaryland.edu.