Kelly Donahue
Communications Director
Arthritis Foundation, Great Lakes Region
Northeastern Ohio
4630 Richmond Road, Suite 240
Cleveland, OH 44128
800-245-2275, ext. 6401


 Study to Chart Effectiveness of Acupressure for Older Adults with Knee Arthritis

ANN ARBOR, MICH. - An Arthritis Foundation Innovative Research Grant has been awarded to an investigator at the University of Michigan.

Lydia Li, PhD, MSW will receive $200,000 over a two-year grant to study “Acupressure for Older Adults with Symptomatic Knee Arthritis.”

Li will study whether self-administered acupressure is an effective and feasible self-management strategy for older adults with knee osteoarthritis.

During the eight-week study, participants will be randomized to three treatment groups; pain-relief acupressure, sham acupressure and usual care. The intervention will last for eight weeks during with participants in the pain-relief and sham acupressure groups will be taught the assigned treatment by a trained research assistant and provided with a DVD to aid their practice at home. The research assistant will make weekly phone calls to support the participants’ adherence to treatment. Participants in the usual care group will also receive weekly phone calls offering emotional support but no further intervention. Data will be collected at the beginning, at the four-week point and at the end of the study.

Results are expected to help assess the effectiveness of pain-relief acupressure on knee pain in older adults and a plan for a future study involving a larger more diverse sample of older adults with osteoarthritis.

There are no studies of older adults in self-administered acupressure so information about its feasibility and ease-of-use is expected to be valuable.

Li said the study will target community-living older adults age 65 or older with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis and with a moderate to severe level of pain.

Acupressure is a facet of integrative medicine. Li said the primary reason for pursuing a study of acupressure is “related to limitations of pharmacological treatment for pain in the elderly population, due to their greater likelihood of having conditions like drug-drug interactions and drug-induced diseases.”

As for her special interest in arthritis-related research, Li said, “I have been doing research related to the physical and mental health of home-care elders for many years. Arthritis is very prevalent and arthritis-related pain is a major complaint in this population. Pain, when severe and being felt as out-of-control, is a strong predictor of depression.

“These findings motivated me to develop effective and affordable pain intervention, particularly one that increases a sense of control for older adults with arthritis,” she said.

Li is married with two teenage sons. She enjoys traveling to culturally-diverse places, hiking “miles and miles” and reading mystery and romance fiction.

The goals of the Arthritis Foundation’s Innovative Research Grant Awards are to:

•Promote development of personalized medicine (i.e. best practices) for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile arthritis;

•Encourage discovery and development of new interventions for osteoarthritis;

•Ensure applicability of research to humans with arthritis.

Striking one in every five adults and 300,000 children, arthritis is the nation’s leading cause of disability.  The Arthritis Foundation ( is committed to raising awareness and reducing the unacceptable impact of this serious and painful disease, which can severely damage joints and rob people of living life to its fullest.  The Foundation funds life-changing research that has restored mobility in patients for more than six decades; fights for health care policies that improve the lives of the millions who live with arthritis; and partners with families to provide empowering programs and information.



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