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Since 2006, acupuncture for osteoarthritis of the knee has been included in the list of healthcare services that are covered by the statutory health insurers. More than 10 000 doctors have become qualified according to the quality assurance agreement for acupuncture in patients with chronic pain, according to §135 section 2 Social Code Book V (SGB V), and regularly practice acupuncture. Deutsches Ärzteblatt (1) reported initial results from the nationwide model projects (Charité Berlin und TU München) in 2006. According to the findings, acupuncture is at least as effective as standard treatment.

In 2007, the authors of the GERAC study based at Bochum’s Ruhr University summarized the efficacy of acupuncture in Deutsches Ärzteblatt (2): “10 to 15 acupuncture sessions, verum as well as sham, alleviated symptoms more effectively than conventional therapy.”

Surely this means that conservative and guideline-conform treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee should be replaced with acupuncture?

DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2010.0602b

Dr. med. Helmut Rüdinger

Beim Andreasbrunnen 7

20249 Hamburg, Germany

ruedinger@daegfa.de

Conflict of interest statement
The author was the chair of the German association for medical acupuncture (DAEGfA, a charity) until 13 May 2010.

1.
Melchart D, Streng A, Hoppe A, Jürgens S, Weidenhammer W, Linde K: Acupuncture for chronic pain – results from the research program of ten health insurance funds [Akupunktur bei chronischen Schmerzen: Ergebnisse aus dem Modellvorhaben der Ersatzkassen]:
Dtsch Arztebl 2006; 103(4): A 187. VOLLTEXT
2.
Endres HG, Victor N, Haake M, Witte S, Streitberger K, Zenz M:
Acupuncture for the treatment of chronic knee and back pain [Akupunktur bei chronischen Knie- und Rückenschmerzen]:
Dtsch Arztebl 2007; 104(3): A 123–30. VOLLTEXT
3.
Michael JWP, Schlüter-Brust KU, Eysel P: The epidemiology, etiology, diagnosis, and treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee [Epidemiologie, Ätiologie, Diagnostik und Therapie der Gonarthrose]. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2010; 107(9): 152–62. VOLLTEXT
1.Melchart D, Streng A, Hoppe A, Jürgens S, Weidenhammer W, Linde K: Acupuncture for chronic pain – results from the research program of ten health insurance funds [Akupunktur bei chronischen Schmerzen: Ergebnisse aus dem Modellvorhaben der Ersatzkassen]:
Dtsch Arztebl 2006; 103(4): A 187. VOLLTEXT
2.Endres HG, Victor N, Haake M, Witte S, Streitberger K, Zenz M:
Acupuncture for the treatment of chronic knee and back pain [Akupunktur bei chronischen Knie- und Rückenschmerzen]:
Dtsch Arztebl 2007; 104(3): A 123–30. VOLLTEXT
3.Michael JWP, Schlüter-Brust KU, Eysel P: The epidemiology, etiology, diagnosis, and treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee [Epidemiologie, Ätiologie, Diagnostik und Therapie der Gonarthrose]. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2010; 107(9): 152–62. VOLLTEXT