Acupuncture May Help Ease Fibromyalgia Pain
Fibromyalgia sufferers may get relief from acupuncture according to a recent study. As we have previously reported, people with fibromyalgia experience chronic widespread pain, which is associated with fatigue, poor sleep patterns and depression. The condition affects up to 5% of the population with the large majority being women.
Because of the difficulty in diagnosing fibromyalgia, effective treatments are not forthcoming. Perhaps because of this, a recent study found that 91% of sufferers seek solace in complementary medicine such as hydrotherapy, massage and acupuncture.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of extremely thin needles through the skin at strategic body parts. It is thought that acupuncture can calm the central nervous system helping to slow down the pain signals to the brain. It is also said to improve blood flow, which can improve oxygenation of the tissues.
Previous clinical trials testing the efficacy of acupuncture have been inconclusive, but those studies did not tailor the course of treatment to suit each patient’s individual needs. To test whether this might make a difference, a study was carried out at Dona Mercedes Primary Health Centre in Seville, Spain and involved a group of 153 patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The team treated one group with targeted acupuncture and the other group with simulated or sham treatment using the same guide tubes but no needles, solely in the dorsal and lumbar regions.
Each patient, in both groups, received 20 minute long treatments, every week for 9 weeks. During the trial, they continued taking any prescription drugs they were already taking.
Ten weeks after treatment the pain scores of patients given tailored acupuncture dropped an average of 41%, compared with an average drop of 27% for those given a simulated acupuncture treatment. The benefits were still seen after a year with the tailored group reporting a 20% reduction in pain and the sham group a 6% reduction.
Questions which asked about the overall quality of life showed reductions in the negative impact of the disease. Also, general measures of anxiety, fatigue and depression were significantly better at the 10 week mark for the tailored acupuncture group. These were still evident after a year but the researchers note that antidepressant usage had also risen, making the results difficult to interpret. Despite this, Dr Allyson Shrkhande, a doctor who specialises in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York said, “The findings in this study help demonstrate that acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for chronic pain patients.”
The report was published online on in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine.
If you would like more information about fibromyalgia please type the word into the Search box to read our earlier articles on living with the condition and new developments in the research into fibromyalgia.
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