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.’