HKBU clinical study finds an efficacy rate of over 80% in Chinese medicine treatment of knee osteoarthritis

12 March 2015


The Clinical Division of the School of Chinese Medicine (SCM) recently conducted a clinical study on Chinese medicine treatment of knee osteoarthritis with acupuncture and tui na. The results showed that more than 80% of the patients who received two to eight treatments experienced a reduction in pain and an improvement in their condition.


Knee osteoarthritis is a chronic knee disease mostly affecting middle-aged or overweight adults or those suffering from long-term knee strain or partial knee injury which causes bone and synovial hyperplasia, as well as swollen, stiff or deformed joints. For these patients, knee pain is experienced throughout the day – whenever they walk, stand or carry heavy objects – and simple tasks like walking up or down stairs bring acute pain. Patients could even be at risk of losing their working capability or self-care ability when the condition becomes more severe.


In the perspective of Chinese medicine, knee osteoarthritis belongs to the category of bi syndrome which can be interpreted as arthralgia associated with knee, pain disorder, bone and tendon. With advancing age, there is a decline in organ function, making the person more susceptible to infections, colds, dampness and blocking of their qi and blood circulation. 


Mr Shu Xu, Senior Lecturer of the Clinical Division of SCM, conducted a clinical observation on 92 knee osteoarthritis patients (68 female and 24 male, aged between 21 and 84 with a total of 139 diseased joints) who attended medical consultations at three HKBU Chinese medicine clinics from August 2012 to December 2014.  


During the period of observation, Mr Shu provided acupuncture and tui na treatment on specific acupoints of individual patients according to the Chinese medicine principle of “treatment based on syndrome differentiation”. After two to eight treatments, no further pain was reported for 44 of the 139 diseased joints (31.7%) and the joints resumed normal mobility; 39 diseased joints (28%) showed the obvious efficacy of treatment, with less pain and better functioning. Improvement was also observed in another 39 diseased joints (28%) in terms of the level of pain and movement disorder while 17 diseased joints (12.3%) showed no improvement. In conclusion, the efficacy rate of Chinese medicine treatment of knee osteoarthritis with acupuncture and tui na is 87.7%.


In addition, the study also analysed the correlation between the number of treatments received and the therapeutic effect. An efficacy rate of 63.1% was recorded for two treatments, 89.3% for five treatments, 94.5% for eight treatments or above while a recovery rate of 3.6% (2 treatments), 19.7% (5 treatments) and 42% (8 treatments or above) were observed respectively. Therefore, the more treatments a patient receives, the higher the efficacy rate. Mr Shu Xu advised patients to undergo at least eight treatments in order to achieve a better result.



Mr Shu Xu illustrates the efficacy of Chinese medicine treatment of knee osteoarthritis with acupuncture and tui na