Abstract: We investigated the feasibility of a future acupuncture trial in the symptom management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Twenty-five patients meeting the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria were recruited and given 14 sessions of individualised acupuncture treatment for 6 weeks. Improvement in symptoms was assessed using ACR 20, 50 and 70; disease activity score (DAS28); tender joint count; swollen joint count; morning stiffness and health-related quality of life using the Korean Health Assessment Questionnaire and the SF-36 at baseline and after 6 weeks. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) was also assessed.
At 6 weeks, 44%, 20%, and 12% of patients achieved ACR 20, 50 and 70 responses, respectively. Acupuncture also produced statistically significant improvements in DAS28, pain and global activity, swollen joint count, health-related quality of life (SF-36) and ESR. No major acupuncture-related adverse events were reported. Acupuncture treatment as used in this pilot study was safe and well-tolerated. The use of acupuncture for symptom management in RA warrants further investigation.