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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2018, Article ID 1638904, 19 pages
Review Article

Efficacy Comparison of Five Different Acupuncture Methods on Pain, Stiffness, and Function in Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Network Meta-Analysis

1Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou 510405, Guangdong, China
2Department of Orthopaedics, the Affiliated Orthopaedics and Trauma Hospital of Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou 510240, Guangdong, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Shengting Chai; nc.ude.mcuzg@rotcodtsczg

Received 10 July 2018; Revised 5 October 2018; Accepted 16 October 2018; Published 1 November 2018

Academic Editor: Jian Kong

Copyright © 2018 Shaowei Li et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The principal objective of this present study was to compare the effects of different acupuncture methods on pain, stiffness, and physical function for osteoarthritis of the knee by the pairwise and network meta-analysis (NMA). A network meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) was searched from three English databases and one Chinese database until January 2018. A pairwise meta-analysis was performed with a random effects model. Then we carried out the NMA within a Bayesian framework. Mean difference (MD) and its 95% confidence interval (CI) were calculated by R 3.4.1, Stata 14.0, and RevMan 5.3 software to assess the relief of pain, the effectiveness for stiffness, and physical function recovery. Node-splitting method was used to calculate the inconsistency. Rank probabilities were assessed and clustered by the surface under the cumulative ranking curve (SUCRA). 16 trials mostly researched short-term effectiveness and showed that fire needle and electro-acupuncture were statistically significant to decrease WOMAC pain and physical function scores when compared with other treatments, but there was no significant difference in stiffness calculations. Our NMA demonstrated that acupuncture with heat pain or electrical stimulation might be suggested as the better choices in all acupuncture methods to osteoarthritis of the knee.