What’s up with that?! A gazillion embedded gold threads in somebody’s knees, and a media beat-up.

Recently, an X-Ray image has done the rounds of the interwebs.

It first surfaced here and has been widely discussed by biomedical doctors, doctors of acupuncture, and the tabloid media.

Do well-educated, AHPRA-Registered Acupuncturists practicing in Australia routinely treat osteoarthritis like this?

No. And it’s an assumption to think that we do.

You can read official responses here and here.

Now, let’s go back to the original article, published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, where the authors conclude

Acupuncture is widely used as a treatment for painful joints. It has been hypothesized that gold thread implanted at the acupuncture points acts as a continuous acupuncture stimulation. The insertion of small pieces of sterile gold thread around the joint by means of acupuncture needles has been used commonly in the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in Asian countries. Gold threads may complicate radiographic assessment, as seen here.

You have to wonder what all the fuss was about.

My view, based on clinical practice and literature reviews?

“Ordinary” acupuncture provided by appropriately qualified practitioners may be a useful adjunctive therapy for treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee.

We need comprehensive research to understand potential benefits and side effects of embedded gold threads.
Cautions and Care: If you have a concern about your health, please see an appropriately qualified, experienced and registered health professional. Please continue to take any medications prescribed by your medical doctors.

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