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Tailored acupuncture 'can help reduce pain'

Tailored acupuncture reduces pain and improves quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia, researchers claim.

The team, who gave nine weeks of 20-minute weekly acupuncture or placebo sessions to 153 female participants with fibromyalgia, found that perceived pain in those treated by tailored acupuncture – judged by self-reported questionnaires - dropped by an average of 41% after 10 weeks.

Effects were still seen a year after treatment, with an average fall of 20% in pain intensity in people who had undergone acupuncture compared to a 6% fall in those that had received the placebo treatment.

However, participants in the study had a higher recorded use of antidepressants one year on and researchers warn that this could have marginally elevated the results at the 12-month review.

The report, published in Acupuncture in Medicine, states that the effect size for pain relief seen in the study was greater than trials that evaluated first-line pharmacological treatments - such as pregablin - to treat fibromyalgia.

The team report that the acupuncture intervention had a lower rate of adverse effects when compared to pharmacological trials and an improved sense of well-being was also identified as a secondary outcome.

Concluding in the paper, the researchers say that their study provides evidence that acupuncture can be a viable pain relief treatment for patients living with fibromyalgia.

They write: ‘In this study, individualised acupuncture treatment of fibromyalgia in primary care was shown to be efficacious in providing pain relief and enhancing the quality of life of patients. The effect persisted at 1 year, and adverse effects were mild and infrequent. Furthermore, the effect of individualised acupuncture was greater than that of sham acupuncture.’


Readers' comments (6)

  • I think this may be part of Jeremy Hunts plan to kill conventional medicine and to introduce chinese medicine due to being influenced by his chinese wife.
    The first part of his plan is on track, the second part is not going so well as the EU is banning chinese medicine.
    Chinese medicine has been around for longer than conventional medicine and from my experience does appear to have many benefits for diseases not treatable by drugs.
    Once the NHS has collapsed, we will need to find our own way in the world. Learning about another form of medicine cannot be a bad thing as it will expand our experience in this. It may even provide a new career option as after leaving medicine I am now a Naturopath and loving it! I am treating so many of the former 'heart sink' patients, patients for which medicine could not treat, with natural methods which I and they find really work.

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  • Anonymous | Other healthcare professional27 Feb 2016 9:24am

    As much as I despise Jeremy Hunt, I think you need to separate the model of traditional chinese medicine (a diagnostic and management system), with the actual modalities of medicine or treatment options that has arisen from China.

    Acupuncture has a genuine evidence base. There is a cochrane review that suggests it is as good for chronic back pain. There are also plenty of neuroscientists who have found that acupuncture has genuine actions on the brain neurotransmitters via fMRI studies.

    Dont forget approximately 30% or more of our current drugs are dervied from plants too. The one you may have heard of recently is artemisin based medications for malaria, the recipe for which was found in a chinese tomb. It is now used for chloroquine resistant malaria.

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  • '153 female participants with fibromyalgia.' - what lucky acupuncturists.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Acupuncture does have a role in relieving pain certain chronic , non-sinister but still debilitating myofascial pain conditions . No wonder fibromyalgia falls into the category . Problem is time spent on each patient for one course of treatment and for sure , needs to be incorporated with other modalities of therapy.
    Evidence based medicine wise, it suffers from the same limitations as like other specialties: poor design of studies , small number of test subjects, chaotic inclusion/exclusion criteria and short period of follow up.
    Spent first ten of my twenty years general practice learning medical acupuncture(western medicine model) and the last ten in dematology . Still remaining as a member of Britisn Medical Acupuncture Society(BMAS) , I can find no time to provide time consuming acupuncture therapy to my patients........

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  • Naturopath at 09:24
    Presumably you are charging them handsomely and loving that as well. Try providing unlimited acupuncture and lala-juice for £136 a year and let us know how you get on with your heartsinks

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  • Naturopath here again...actually I mentioned I do not now work as a doctor and have left being in the NHS.
    You are right, you cannot give people the time needed for the diagnosis let alone the treatments using natural methods on the NHS. Impossible!
    However I have many clients who find that it is worth their while to spend more time with me for them to enjoy better health. I used to worry about not having the benefit of using prescription medications, however now I have realised that you can improve people's health using natural substances and methods very substantially. It just takes time to learn which methods work better than others and for what problems.

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