Acupuncture can reduce symptoms of fibromyalgia, a musculoskeletal disease that causes chronic pain, joint stiffness, sleep disturbance, fatigue, and other symptoms, a recent Mayo Clinic study finds. Acupuncture not only offered pain relief for fibromyalgia patients, but it significantly improved fatigue and anxiety symptoms, the scientists reported in a recent issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
David Martin, M.D., and Mayo Clinic colleagues tested 50 fibromyalgia patients for whom other symptom-relief treatments (analgesic medication, antidepressants, muscle relaxants) were ineffective to determine if acupuncture improved their symptoms. Half were treated with acupuncture, half with simulated acupuncture (acupoint bandages affixed with needles that stuck out of the bandage but did not pierce the skin). The patients got six treatments over a two- to three-week period.
Based on answers to the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, symptoms were greatly improved in the acupuncture group compared with the control group during the study period. Maximum benefit occurred at one month. “We found that acupuncture significantly improved symptoms of fibromyalgia. Symptomatic improvement was not restricted to pain relief and was most significant for fatigue and anxiety,” the researchers wrote. Martin suggests that patients interested in acupuncture should ask their doctors about it and request referrals to qualified acupuncture physicians.
“This study shows there is something real about acupuncture and its effects on fibromyalgia,” said Martin. “It’s my speculation that if acupuncture works for these patients with recalcitrant fibromyalgia—where previous treatments had not provided satisfactory relief—it would likely work for many of the millions of fibromyalgia patients.” The researchers concluded that acupuncture could fill a gap in available therapies for the disease as something additive to medication and may have a more primary role in the symptomatic treatment of patients who are unable to tolerate medication side effects. For more information about acupuncture for the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms contact Dr. Richard Browne at (305) 595-9500.