Acupuncture, as one of the promising non-pharmacological interventions, has been proved to be beneficial for patients. However, the magnitude of acupuncture’s specific and nonspecific effects, as well as their neurological and psychological determinants, remains unclear. Therefore, this study is designed to examine the acupuncture efficacy, investigate whether the brain mechanisms between the specific and nonspecific effects of acupuncture are different, and to evaluate how psychological factors affect the acupuncture effects.
This is a randomized, controlled, crossover clinical trial. A total of 60 patients with knee osteoarthritis will receive 4 weeks of acupuncture treatment and 4 weeks of sham acupuncture treatment in a random order separated by a washout period of 2 weeks. The changes in clinical characteristics based on pain-related scales will be assessed to investigate the clinical efficacy of acupuncture. Resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans will be used to identify the brain activity changes related to the specific and nonspecific effects of acupuncture. The questionnaires of psychological factors will be used to evaluate patients’ psychological properties. Correlation and mediation analyses will be conducted among psychological factors, brain activity changes, and symptoms improvement to explore the neurological and psychological correlates of the acupuncture effects.
This study will concentrate on distinguishing and clarifying the specific and nonspecific effects of acupuncture. The results of this study may contribute to rationally optimize the acupuncture therapies by flexible application of the specific and nonspecific effects of acupuncture.
Chinese Clinical Trial Registry ChiCTR1900025807 . Registered on 9 September 2019.