Some Researches about Acupuncture and Fibromyalgia

Two studies have demonstrated benefit from acupuncture in the treatment of fibromyalgia. In the first, published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 21 patients completed the study. All received 16 treatments over eight weeks, alternating points on the back with points on the front of the body. The Fibromyalgia Impact Scores (twenty questions designed to assess how fibromyalgia affects physical and emotional functioning and quality of life) fell from a mean of 53.6 prior to treatment to 38.9 after the first month and to 30.5 at the end of the second month of treatment. (Effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 2006;12(2):34-41). In the second, a Mayo Clinic prospective, partially blinded, controlled, randomised clinical trial found acupuncture to be more effective than sham acupuncture in the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms. Total fibromyalgia symptoms were significantly improved in the true acupuncture compared to the sham controls, with the greatest improvements in symptoms of fatigue and anxiety. (Mayo Clin Proc. 2006;81(6):749-757).

Fibromyalgia patients treated with six sessions of acupuncture experienced significant symptomatic improvement compared to a group given sham acupuncture. 50 patients with moderate to severe, recalcitrant fibromyalgia, for whom other symptom-relief treatments were ineffective, were randomly assigned to receive acupuncture or sham acupuncture (neither group knew which), administered in six sessions over two to three weeks. Patients receiving true acupuncture experienced significantly greater relief of pain, fatigue and anxiety than the sham acupuncture patients, with the greatest improvement showing one month after the end of treatment but reverting to baseline levels at a seven-month follow-up. (The International Association for the Study of Pain 11th World Congress on Pain, Sydney, Australia).

Fibromyalgia is a chronic painful musculoskeletal syndrome of unknown aetiology, characterised by generalised pains in the connective tissues of the body and specific area of knotted muscle fibre – called “trigger points” – which are especially painful. It is generally treated with a combination of analgesics and vigorous massage. A recent review of the literature on the treatment of fibromyalgia using acupuncture showed improvements in the myalgic index, in the number of trigger points, and in quality of life for the patients. (Current Pain Headache Report 2002;6(5):379-83)

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