Needle-knife therapy improves the clinical symptoms of knee osteoarthritis by inhibiting the expression of inflammatory cytokines.

Lin M, Li X, Liang W, Liu J, Guo J, Zheng J, Liu X.
Exp Ther Med, April 2014; 7(4): 835-842,

 Knee osteoarthritis patients may benefit from a Chinese orthopedic treatment known as needle-knife therapy, and this seems more effective than acupuncture treatment alone.

A new study by Lin et al. (2014), shows that needle-knife therapy reduces knee pain and stiffness and improves physical function in knee osteoarthritis patients. Physiologically, the therapy also reduced levels of three inflammatory markers, (cytokines IL-6, IL-1β, and TNF-α).

Needle-knife therapy is a type of treatment where the practitioner loosens and breaks adhesions in the injured area by using a surgical instrument in the shape of a needle with a tip that is a sharp, scalpel-like blade. Past studies have suggested it can slow cartilage breakdown and improve joint function in osteoarthritis.

In their study, Lin and colleagues randomized 170 patients with knee osteoarthritis to receive either needle-knife therapy or acupuncture. Both types of treatments significantly reduced pain and improved function in patients with mild to intermediate stages (Stages I-III) of knee osteoarthritis, and needle-knife therapy was effective for patients with advanced (Stage IV) knee osteoarthritis.. Moreover, treatment with needle-knife therapy significantly reduced expression of inflammatory cytokines, when compared to treatment with acupuncture.

The authors write, “The preliminary findings in the present study indicate that needle-knife therapy is effective in improving knee pain, stiffness, and physical function in patients with knee osteoarthritis.”


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