Background: Acupuncture has been widely used in the clinical management of osteoarthritis of the knee. Many systematic reviews (SRs) and meta-analyses (MAs) have reported its effectiveness in relieving pain. This overview aimed to summarize SRs and MAs on the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for osteoarthritis of the knee and evaluate their methodological and evidence quality of the included SRs and MAs.
Methods: We conducted a comprehensive literature search for SRs and MAs in four Chinese and four international databases from their inception until August 2021. Two researchers independently searched the reviews, extracted the data, and cross-checked the data. The Assessing the Methodological Quality of Systematic Reviews 2 (AMSTAR 2) tool was used to evaluate the methodological quality of the included SRs and MAs. The Grades of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) system was used to assess the quality of evidence for the outcomes of the included SRs and MAs.
Results: A total of 14 SRs and MAs were included. The evaluation results of the AMSTAR 2 tool showed that the methodological quality of all the 14 SRs and MAs was critically low. The principal causes are the lack of a pre-registration proposal and a list of excluded studies and justify the exclusions, the report on the sources of funding, and the reasons for the study designs for inclusion. The results of the GRADE evaluation showed 25 of 46 outcomes were very low-level evidence. Seventeen were of low level, four were of moderate level and none were of high level. Most outcomes were downgraded in quality of evidence mainly because of publication bias and imprecision.
Conclusion: The existing evidence suggests that acupuncture seems to be an effective and safe therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee. However