In a new study on patients with knee arthritis published in the September issue of the journal Arthritis Care and Research, the researchers from the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Texas learned that a powerful but little understood placebo effect' relieves the pain whether thin needles are inserted in the right or wrong points in the body.
In the study, 455 patients were subjected to real and sham acupuncture treatment. Patients in the group given the real treatment and those in the other group given the sham treatment reported significant reductions in pain. Trained acupuncturists administered the real and sham treatment.
The results, according to the researchers, did not mean that acupuncture does not work but rather real and fake acupuncture influences how the body transmits or processes pain signals.
The findings lend support to other studies of acupuncture suggesting that pricking a needle around the area of injury or pain could alter the way the brain perceives and responds to pain.