Sensory stimulation with acupuncture in rheumatoid arthritis:
A randomised, controlled study

Marilyn Mayer1, 2, Ralph Nisell2, 4, Christina H Stenström1, 3, 4, Thomas Lundeberg5, Ann Sundbom6


The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effects of deep electrical acupuncture treatment versus superficial needle insertion in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Fifty-eight consecutive patients (median age 62.5 years, median disease duration 16 years, 86 % female) were assigned to either treatment and received 10 treatments during 5 weeks.

The post-treatment results showed significant within-group improvements in the deep acupuncture group regarding sickness impact (p<.01), pain (p<.01), wellbeing (p<.05), upper (p<.01) and lower (p<.001) limb impairments, grip strength and endurance (p<.05), and joint tenderness (p<.01).

The superficial needle insertion group improved regarding disability (p<.05), lower limb impairment (p<.05), grip endurance (p<.05) and pain (p<.05). No significant between-group differences after the treatment period were found, and no changes compared to post-treatment were found at four-moth follow-up.

In conclusion, improvements were observed following both deep electrical acupuncture and superficial needle insertion. It seems, though, that the effects of deep electrical acupuncture might be superior to superficial needle insertion patients with stable rheumatoid arthritis.

Correspondence to: Marilyn Mayer, Physiotherapy Unit, Dept of Rheumatology, Karolinska Hospital, SE - 171 76 Stockholm, Sweden

1 Physiotherapy Unit, Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm
2 Department of Rheumatology, Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm
3 Department of Physiotherapy, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm
4 Department of Internal Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm
5 Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm
6 Mälarsjukhuset, Eskilstuna