The pain scores of patients who received acupuncture dropped by an average of 41% just 10 weeks after treatment. A control group who received simulated acupuncture treatment only saw a 27% drop. The benefits of the treatment were still seen up to a year after treatment began.
The lead researcher of the study, Dr. Jorge Vas, of the pain treatment unit at Dona Mercedes Primary Health Center in Seville, Spain, said “Individualized acupuncture is a safe and good therapeutic option for the treatment of fibromyalgia.”
Fibromyalgia affects up to 5% of the population, and between 80-90% of patients are women. Symptoms include chronic and widespread pain, fatigue, poor sleep patterns, and depression. Acupuncture treatment, a 3,000-year-old healing technique of traditional Chinese Medicine, relieves pain, according to a number of studies, and many clinical physicians use it to treat a number of different conditions.
Indeed, “Both acupuncture and traditional medicine have a place in treating fibromyalgia,” said Dr. Alexander Rances, an acupuncturist, pain management specialist, and attending physician at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, NY.
For the study, Vas and his colleagues randomly assigned 153 patients with diagnosed fibromyalgia to tailored acupuncture or simulated acupuncture. They had nine weekly treatments, each session lasting 20 minutes. Patients were allowed to continue with the pharmacological treatment they were taking before the study commenced.
In addition to reports of less overall pain, scores from the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, which measures how the condition affects sufferers’ lives, yielded interesting results. Reductions in scores were seen in 35% at 10 weeks and just over 22% after one year for those given real acupuncture. The patients who received simulated treatment saw reductions of 24.5% , then 5%, respectively.