Using auriculotherapy for osteoarthritic knee among elders: A double-blinded randomised feasibility study

Kwai Ping Lorna Suen, Chao Hsing Yeh, Simon K.W. Yeung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Osteoarthritic knee (OA knee) is a common condition in the elderly. Exploration of non-invasive complementary therapies for OA knee is warranted given the limitations of pharmacologic therapies. Auriculotherapy (AT) is a therapeutic method in which specific points on the auricle are stimulated to treat various disorders of the body, and the therapeutic value and synergistic effect of laser auriculotherapy (LAT) when combined with magneto-auriculotherapy (MAT) merits further investigation. Methods: This study adopted a double-blinded four-arm randomized placebo design. The aims of study are (1) to assess the feasibility of AT among elders with OA knee in a future large-scale study, including the use of blinding in subjects and evaluators, acceptance of treatment protocol, and estimating the effect size and attrition rate; and (2) to evaluate the preliminary effect of AT in elders with OA knee. Subjects were randomly divided into four groups with different modes of AT with/without placebo objects. A total of 43 subjects completed the 6-week intervention and post-assessment. Assessments included a numerical rating scale of pain (NRS), the timed-up-and-go test (TUGT), and standard goniometer measurements during knee flexion and extension, Kruskal-Wallis test was used to evaluate differences among groups, and Wilcoxon sign-ranked test for examining within-group comparison. Results: Preliminary results indicated the absence of differences in the NRS, TUGT, and active/passive knee flexion and extension at baseline, as well as post-therapy, between the four groups. Even though the differences of these parameters between groups were not significant, the relative differences of NRS and TUGT in subjects who received combined MAT plus LAT were higher than those treated with MAT or LAT alone, or the placebo group. Four of the six parameters demonstrated significant within group differences in subjects who received MAT and/or LAT, whereas no significant differences were found in the placebo group. Conclusion: This study demonstrates that the AT protocol adopted in this study for elders with OA knee is feasible and could be applied in future larger-scale study. Larger sample size should be considered in a future trial to determine the causal relationship between treatment and effect. Trial Registration: NCT02352636. Registered on 23 January 2015.
Original languageEnglish
Article number257
JournalBMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2016


  • Auriculotherapy
  • Elderly
  • Laser
  • Magnetotherapy
  • Osteoarthritic knee

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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