Acupuncture vs Green-lipped Mussel Extract in the Treatment of Osteoarthritis in Greyhounds: a Pilot Study for a Pragmatic Randomised Controlled Crossover Trial

By Carla Jane Love



Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease. In the UK, 8 million people are sufferers (Arthritic Association, 2015) and it is ranked as one of the 10 most disabling diseases in the developed world (World Health Organisation, 2015). In dogs, it is the most common cause of lameness. The symptoms are usually treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which can create antagonistic side effects. Acupuncture can be used to treat the symptoms in humans. In comparison, there are fewer studies available treating dogs and the methodology used is often gold bead implantation (GBI), not traditional acupuncture. Green-lipped mussel extract (GLM) is also said to aid in treating the symptoms as it contains Omega-3 fats.


Aims and Objectives

The aim is to evaluate the feasibility of a full-scale trial comparing the effectiveness of acupuncture and GLM in treating the symptoms of OA in greyhounds. Methodology and outcome measures will be trialled. Acupuncture and GLM will be assessed and compared in order to obtain preliminary effectiveness data to inform a larger-scale investigation in a pragmatic, randomised, controlled, crossover trial.


Methodology and Outcome Measures

A pilot crossover trial lasting 21 weeks was performed on two greyhounds with OA of the hip. Each dog received acupuncture and GLM plus a phase of no treatment. Both quantitative and qualitative outcome measures were used, consisting of two Visual Analogue Scales (VAS), the Helsinki Chronic Pain Index (HCPI), hip extension tests and an owner’s diary. Analysis aimed to determine potential for a larger scale crossover trial.



All outcome measures indicated a reduction in symptoms of OA with both acupuncture and GLM. The outcome measures were practical and useable, although changes need to be made. The methodology can be replicated. Although both acupuncture and GLM reduced symptoms in comparison to no treatment, it is not possible to determine a more effective performance.



Traditional acupuncture and GLM can both reduce the symptoms of OA in greyhounds, both physically and mentally. Neither has proven to be more effective than the other, but both are more effective than no treatment. This warrants the need for a larger scale trial to proceed.