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Warm Needle Acupuncture vs Needle Acupuncture

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT02680912
Recruitment Status : Unknown
Verified April 2017 by London South Bank University.
Recruitment status was:  Active, not recruiting
First Posted : February 12, 2016
Last Update Posted : April 21, 2017
British Acupuncture Council
Confucius Institute for Traditional Chinese Medicine, London South Bank University
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
London South Bank University

Brief Summary:

This is a two-armed randomised controlled pilot study that investigates the component efficacy of moxibustion for osteoarthritis of the knee. Participants will be randomised to receive either warm needle acupuncture or needle acupuncture. Participants and acupuncturists will be blinded to group allocation. The primary and secondary outcome measures are WOMAC and SF36 respectively. Qualitative interviews will be used to gather information on the patients' experiences and perceptions of the trial and the treatment provided.

It is hypothesised that warm needle acupuncture will lead to a greater reduction in clinical signs and symptoms than needle acupuncture.

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Osteoarthritis, Knee Device: Warm needle acupuncture Device: Needle acupuncture Not Applicable

Detailed Description:

Acupuncture Treatment

All participants will receive acupuncture. Only points local to the knee will be used. There will be 4-6 points used per knee, therefore 8 -12 needles per treatment. A record will be kept of the points used at each treatment. Both knees will be treated even if only one knee is painful. This will ensure that participants receive similar treatments.

Patients will be treated seated, as this allows better access to the relevant acupuncture points. It also helps ensure the moxibustion is carried out safely.

Participants will receive 8 treatments in the first 4 weeks (twice a week), then 4 treatments in 4 weeks (once a week).

Blinding procedures

The only difference in the procedures will be that lit cones are placed on the needles of the treatment group whilst unlit moxa cones will be placed on the needles of the control group. Smokeless moxa will be used. All patients will see the needles being inserted and the moxa cones placed on the needles by the acupuncturist. Skin guards will be placed at the base of the needle to reduce the immediate sense of heat on the surface of the skin. Similar skin guards are routinely used in acupuncture treatment to prevent any discomfort.

The acupuncturist will carry out a consultation at each session as per normal practice. After the needles have been inserted and the moxa cones have been placed on needles the acupuncturist leaves and an assistant acupuncturist enters the room. The assistant acupuncturist will place a screen in front of the patient to prevent them from seeing their knees. The assistant acupuncturist will then remove one cone at a time and light it. In the treatment group the lit cone is placed on the needle. In the control group the lit cone is place in a small dish close to the knee, a replacement unlit cone is placed on the needle. This process is repeated until all the cones are lit. The unlit cone is replaced on the needle of the control group to try and ensure they experience the same sensations as the treatment group. The use of a second acupuncturist to light the moxa ensures that the acupuncturist who carries out the consultation and inserts the needles is blinded to group allocation.

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Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Actual Enrollment : 14 participants
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Triple (Participant, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Warm Needle Acupuncture vs. Needle Acupuncture for Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Pilot Study
Study Start Date : February 2016
Estimated Primary Completion Date : May 16, 2017
Estimated Study Completion Date : July 2017

Resource links provided by the National Library of Medicine

Arm Intervention/treatment
Experimental: Warm needle acupuncture

Warm needle acupuncture (wenzhen; 温针) is where moxa cones are placed on the handle of the needle, after the needle has been inserted. Once lit, heat transmits along the shaft of the needle to the acupuncture point.

Moxa refers to the herb mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) that is burnt to warm specific parts of the body, including acupuncture points.

Device: Warm needle acupuncture
There will be 4-6 points used per knee, therefore 8-12 needles per treatment. Two points will be used as the core treatment ST 35 dubi, Ex-LE 5 xiyan. Four other acu-points can also be used from the following: Ahshi painful points local to the knee (locus dolendi), ST 36 zusanli, GB 34 yanglingquan, Sp 9 yinlingquan, ST34 liangqiu, Sp 10 xuehai, GB 33 yangxiguan, LR 7 xiguan, LR 8 ququan, heding Ex-LE 2 In addition to the acupuncture needles the warm needle acupuncture group will receive moxibustion on up to 4 points. Smokeless moxa will be used.

Active Comparator: Basic needle acupuncture
Basic needle acupuncture is the use of acupuncture needles alone, without other methods of stimulation.
Device: Needle acupuncture
The point selection protocol will be exactly the same as the experimental group

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) [ Time Frame: Change from Baseline to follow up at 16 weeks ]

Secondary Outcome Measures :
  1. SF36 (Rand) [ Time Frame: Change from Baseline to follow up at 16 weeks ]
    Health Related Quality of Life (HRQL)

Information from the National Library of Medicine

Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contacts provided below. For general information, Learn About Clinical Studies.

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Ages Eligible for Study:   40 Years and older   (Adult, Older Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Chronic pain in at least one knee joint during the last six months.
  • At baseline the WOMAC pain score must be ≥ 3 points (on a scale of 0-10)

In addition to the knee pain at least 3 of the following 6 must be present:

  • Age > 50 years
  • Stiffness < 30 minutes
  • Crepitus
  • Bony Tenderness
  • Bony enlargement
  • No palpable warmth

(ACR 2013)


  • Ability to speak English
  • Signed consent form

Exclusion Criteria:

  • A systemic disease of the musculoskeletal system.
  • Bone tumour, bone tumour like lesions or metastasis.
  • Bone fracture in the lower extremities during the last three months.
  • Acute infection or osteonecrosis in the knee joint.
  • Recent sprain injury to the knee joint.
  • Surgery of the afflicted extremity during the last six months or planned surgery.
  • Ongoing cortico-steroid therapy or cortisone injections in the past six weeks.
  • Taking anti-coagulant medication.
  • Coagulopathy.
  • Other pain condition that compels the patient to take analgesics for more than three days during the last four weeks.
  • Addiction to analgesics, opiate or other drugs.
  • Acupuncture treatment in the past 3 months.
  • Dermatological disease within the acupuncture area impairing acupuncture treatment.
  • Pregnant or breast-feeding patients.
  • Inability to follow instructions or understand the consent form (insufficient command of language, dementia).
  • Participation in another clinical study.
  • Ongoing legal proceedings concerning degree of disability.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT02680912

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United Kingdom
Confucius Institute for TCM LSBU
London, United Kingdom, SE1 0AA
Sponsors and Collaborators
London South Bank University
British Acupuncture Council
Confucius Institute for Traditional Chinese Medicine, London South Bank University
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Principal Investigator: Ian K Appleyard London South Bank University
Additional Information:
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Responsible Party: London South Bank University Identifier: NCT02680912    
Other Study ID Numbers: 6505
First Posted: February 12, 2016    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: April 21, 2017
Last Verified: April 2017
Individual Participant Data (IPD) Sharing Statement:
Plan to Share IPD: No
Keywords provided by London South Bank University:
Bi syndrome
Additional relevant MeSH terms:
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Osteoarthritis, Knee
Joint Diseases
Musculoskeletal Diseases
Rheumatic Diseases