STUDY: Acupuncture Reduces Pain Intensity for People with Fibromyalgia

STUDY: Acupuncture Reduces Pain Intensity for People with Fibromyalgia

After ten weekly sessions of individualized acupuncture treatments, people with fibromyalgia experience reduced pain intensity, and an improvement in functional capability and quality of life, according to a study published in Acupuncture in Medicine.

“This treatment produced an improvement in the participants’ condition, reflected by a reduction in pain intensity and enhanced functional capacity and quality of life after the intervention and during the follow up period,” Dr. Jorge Vas, lead author of the study wrote.

“Such an outcome has not been reported by previous studies following the application of standardized treatments: therefore, our results suggest that applying individualized treatment algorithms when starting a course of acupuncture may be important,” they conclude.

The researchers compared individually tailored acupuncture treatment with sham treatment in 153 adults diagnosed with fibromyalgia based on the diagnostic criteria set by the American College of Rheumatology.

Participants were randomly assigned to either real or sham treatments, each lasting 20 minutes.  Participants continued the use of other medications prescribed for treating symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Measurements of pain, depression, physical and mental health were assessed with validated scoring systems before treatment and then after 10 weeks, 6 months and one year.

After 10 weeks pain intensity was lower by an average of 41%, compared to 27$ for those in the sham group.  Significant differences were observed after one year with the average pain score reduction of 20% receiving the real treatment compared to 6% receiving the simulated treatment.

Scores from the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) also showed a significant difference between the groups, with reductions of 35%, 25%, and just over 22% for those given tailored acupuncture compared with 24.5%, just over 11%, and 5%, for those receiving the sham treatment.

“The effect persisted at 1 year, and its side effects were mild and infrequent. Therefore, the use of individualized acupuncture in patients with fibromyalgia is recommended,”

Clinical trials have not demonstrated that acupuncture is a proven treatment for fibromyalgia, to which the authors characterize that the lack of efficacy is due to clinical trials using a single standard approach to acupuncture compared to an individualized approach.

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Authored by: Staff

There are 9 comments for this article
  1. Stephen S. Rodrigues, MD at 2:27 pm

    Acupuncture works beautifully and then it does not work.
    Massage works beautifully and then it does not work.
    Spinal adjustments work beautifully and then it does not work.
    Penicillin works beautifully and then it does not work.
    All treatments and medicines must be used wisely or they will not work.

    “Acupuncture” is good medicine which can be traced back >10,000 years and can be conceived in many variations of needling, tattooing, wires, nails or probes.

    The reason we have been using needling is because the needles can reach farther into the body to turn on nature. Why? Stresses and strains of live stay in the muscular system.

    Our muscles will demand that we regularly remove these stresses and strains with hands-on elbow grease physical therapy. PT is the only treatment for soft, connective and muscle tissue pain we all get from life and living.

    The mechanism of action of PT is that the forces applied into the tissues can ignite natural healing. “The only way to ignite the natural forces from within which is the true healer of disease.” -Hippocrates.

    PT was historically all inclusive until someone “watered it down” into hands-off and hands-on options. Hands-off is a weak igniter. Hands-on is the only way to fully ignite healing.
    Kinesiology, Manipulation, Orthopedic and Osteopathic.
    Osteopathic Manipulation, Spinal Range of Motion Therapy, Continuous Passive Therapy and Soft Tissue Release.
    Acupressure, hands-on with hands, fingers and tools.
    Acupuncture, Chinese, myofascial or GunnIMS and the weakest form Dry Needling.
    Wet Hypodermic Intramuscular Stimulative Needling aka Travell Trigger Point Injections.

  2. Jean Price at 12:20 pm

    I’ve gone to acupuncturists, (is that a word?), and I will say it took a slight edge off my pain…especially while I was still on the table! But the effects were very short lived…especially considering the expense. I also bruised so badly will all of them and even got burns from one who used a certain technique. So I stoped seeking this as an alternate therapy. Many people I’ve talked with say that acupuncture doesn’t work if you don’t believe in it. Yet, studies have been done with dogs who stopped limping after treatments and some also showed signs of relief from surgical pain with acupuncture. So, I’m not sure belief is an issue!! I agree with the others that having acupuncture, and massage also, covered by insurance would be plus for those who haven’t tried it because of the expense. Doing trigger point releases is similar to the mechanisms of acupuncture, just uses pressure instead of needles. This is something that can help a great deal, I think, and we can do it for ourselves. It’s often hard to reach the areas or have someone else at home help. Yet there are devices (TheraCane, for one) to do this yourself without straining. It’s about $50, and like accupressure, not covered by insurance. I think it saves doctor visits and is well worth the investment though. Many people with chronic pain have some myofacial involvement and this is directed at releasing the points that are causing pain. I travel with mine and even bought my daughter one and she also loves it (she has severe scoliosis with an S curve; it was mismeasured early on, plus her curve increased after her growth centers were in.). She often has neck, chest, and back pain from just normal daily activities. Trigger point therapy has helped her many times. Oddly enough, I had been in at least five different physical therapy clinics over the years before I happened to see a physical therapist who asked me if I had one! So they don’t seem highly visible or promoted for some reason. I hope there will be a time when insurance will cover the less invasive treatment options like acupuncture for us…I do believe they can help. I also believe it is important to select a well qualified practitioner.

  3. Linda Tyson at 9:26 am

    Acupuncture has helped relieve fibro over the years. As each person’S body is different, there will be different results. A result of on the job injuries, the ins carrier will not pay so I have to pay out of pocket or go to the wonderful UCLA Alternative/East West.when in town as most places will not accept ins. Exercise. eating right, resting with sleep; taking Lyrica and supplements helps keep under control.

  4. Donna at 6:33 pm

    I would like to see studies done with a higher number of people than just a paltry 123. To me, this is just too small of a number, and I find it useless. I would like to see studies with > 1000 individuals with Fibromyalgia as primary diagnosis and, if possible, free of moderate or severe spinal disorders.

  5. myst7 at 5:26 pm

    accupuncture I paid out of pocket for it and I swelled up like I had a Softball in my cheek I had it done for jaw pain associated with MS so needless to say Doc will never suggest that for me again.

  6. Stephen S. Rodrigues, MD at 5:02 pm

    I’m a 32 y boarded FP who learned acupuncture in 1997 and discovered it simply works beautifully. Acupuncture is one of the most potent medicine options known to mankind. It is not a panacea. Acupuncture is not a static like a “pill” but much more dynamic depending on the training of the individuals.

    I discovered that it is not just about acupuncture it is about all of the vetted complementary and alternative options to place in a 20 volume encyclopedia of wellness and hands-on physical therapy of old. Acupuncture is only 1 of the volumes. It is not one vs the other. The whole set of volume in the encyclopedia should be given to you to choose from based on your unique problems!

    Traditional acupuncture which is being taught and used today is mostly the watered down preventative type. Old Classic Acupuncture is much more powerful and is 100% full blown restorative. So in a novice hands or set up like a robot without a full understanding, some provocateurs can set it up to fail. Not that it does not work. This means that the providers who are poorly trained or instructed, do not know how this discipline fits into the historical archives of medicine may not be able to help you. NO matter if they have an MD or not. MDs of acupuncture are still are not fully aware, so be careful of them too.

    Why Acupuncture is not standardized? Ha ha! This is by design. We all have been miseducated and distracted away from many curative treatments so we have only 2 options; pills and the knife. Pill and the knife will ultimately fail millions. It is a sophisticated trap of definition and concept deceptions. Somehow the hands-on options and remedies were trashed for profits and expediency. Without hands-on options readily available people will be set up to fail. Yes you all have been set up to fail by a sophisticated designed system.

    Thus:
    “Muscles cause everyday pain and physical therapy is the only way to remove the innocent pain in our muscles.”

    Today I focus on all the Hands-on treatments aimed at muscles and used needles. This is what it is all about have the full smorgasbord of options at your fingertip to help your patients: Massage, Tissue release options, strain and counterstrain, Joint Manipulations, Thin intramuscular needling options, Dry needling, GunnIMS, Chinese, Japanese, French Energetic and various other “Acupuncture.” Hypodermic intramuscular needling options, Wet Needling aka Trigger Point Stimulative Needling, Tendon and Ligament Injections – aka prolotherapy, biopuncture, Stem Cell and PRP.

    Pain, insomnia, depression, anxiety, stress, and headaches ALL are connected by a thin thread thus ALL the same cause and same sources within the whole body.

    Think! Stressful lives + no respect + fear + unrestored tight and contracted muscles = misery.
    Misery is treated with the opposite of a stressful life = TLC + Hands-on pampering + Hands-on needling + support + saying no + magnesium = Powerful Natural Restorative Healing.

    If your treatments fail to help you it is because you have been denied the full benefits of all of these options. You have been abandoned, ignored, neglected due to a powerful group of people who set us all up to fail. Call the White House to complain. I did a few weeks ago.

  7. Veronica Clark at 7:45 am

    Acupuncture was one of the first ‘treatments’ I went through. It didn’t do a thing for me. Nothing at all, except cost me tons of money. A gigantic waste of time, and much needed money. Won’t ever do that again!

  8. HJ at 6:50 am

    This information will not be relevant to the majority of patients until accupuncture is an approved, insurance-reimbursed treatment.

    I pay $60 per visit just to set foot in the office of the doctor who helps me with my pain. I have a $2,000 plan deductible. I also have numerous chronic conditions for which I must be able to afford medication for.

    Reign in medical costs, make it an insurance-reimbursed service…

    … and then we can talk. All due respect intended.