Italian researchers have shown that a course of acupuncture for severe fibromyalgia, is effective for treating multiple mental and physical symptoms. In the study, 102 patients with chronic, treatment-resistant fibromyalgia, and attending as out-patients of a rheumatology clinic in Ancona, received eight acupuncture sessions on a weekly basis. All participants were allowed to continue drug therapy.
After the eight weeks, patients experienced significant improvements in all evaluated parameters, including fibromyalgia impact, neuropathic pain, pain catastrophising and global health. The researchers say that for the first time, acupuncture has been shown to be effective against disease features such as pain catastrophizing and neuropathic pain. Earlier intervention with multimodal strategies, including acupuncture, could be of great benefit to patients.
(Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia: An Open-Label Pragmatic Study on Effects on Disease Severity, Neuropathic Pain Features, and Pain Catastrophizing. Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 25 February 2020.)
Spanish researchers have found that acupuncture helps fibromyalgia, specifically balance and posture in female patients. A total of 135 participants were randomised by a team at the University of Extremadura to one of three groups: a core stability physiotherapy group; an acupuncture treatment group; a no-treatment control group. Treatment groups received two sessions per week, for a total of 10 sessions.
As measured by balance, time taken to stand up, and 10 metre walking speed, both the acupuncture and physiotherapy groups showed statistically significant improvements compared with the control group. There were no significant differences between acupuncture and physiotherapy.
(Effectiveness of acupuncture vs. core stability training in balance and functional capacity of women with fibromyalgia: a randomized controlled trial. Clinical Rehabilitation Journal, 23 March 2020.)
A study by the US military shows ear acupuncture can significantly reduce pain after shoulder surgery. Prior to surgery, 40 military veterans aged 17 to 55, were randomised to receive either standard care (physiotherapy) or standard care plus ear acupuncture. Between baseline and seven days, the acupuncture group exhibited significantly greater reductions in pain scores, even though analgesic use was similar across both groups.
(Battlefield Acupuncture and Physical Therapy Versus Physical Therapy Alone After Shoulder Surgery. Medical Acupuncture, 19 August 2019.)
Researchers in Turkey studying acupuncture for fibromyalgia, have found that it may provide better subjective clinical outcomes, plus long-term objective improvements in levels of pain neuromediators. A total of 75 women with the condition were randomised to receive either true acupuncture, sham acupuncture or simulated acupuncture. Treatments were given twice a week for four weeks.
Serum serotonin levels increased after treatment in both the true and sham acupuncture groups, but the increase in the true acupuncture group was significantly greater. Levels of substance P, the main pain neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, decreased in the true acupuncture group, but increased in the simulated acupuncture group. Some short-term improvements in subjective symptom scores occurred in all three groups. However the true acupuncture group showed the most benefit, with significant improvements in almost all clinical outcomes, including pain, number of tender points, disease impact, depression and general health. These changes were still reported three months after the end of treatment.
The authors conclude that acupuncture, rather than sham or placebo acupuncture, may lead to long-term improvements in clinical outcomes and pain neuromediator values. Changes in serum serotonin and substance P levels may be an explanation behind acupuncture’s mechanisms in fibromyalgia treatment.
(Effects of Acupuncture Treatment on Fibromyalgia Symptoms, Serotonin, & Substance P Levels: A Randomized Sham & Placebo-Controlled Trial. Pain Medicine, 6 December 2017.)
An update of the 2012 study by the international Acupuncture Trialists’ Collaboration reinforces the evidence that acupuncture for chronic musculoskeletal pain is an effective intervention. The new meta-analysis included raw data from an additional 13 randomised trials, giving a total dataset of nearly 21 000 patients from 39 trials. Acupuncture was superior to sham and no-acupuncture control for all four chronic pain conditions assessed: back and neck pain, shoulder pain and chronic headache. Patients receiving acupuncture had less pain, and there was clear evidence that the benefits of acupuncture persist over time, with only a 15% decrease in treatment effect after one year.
(Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: Update of an Individual Patient Data Meta-Analysis. The Journal of Pain, 30 November 2017.)