Vas J, et al. Acupunct Med. 2016;doi:10.1136/acupmed-2015-010950.

February 15, 2016
2 min read

Patients with fibromyalgia may have pain improvement with acupuncture


Vas J, et al. Acupunct Med. 2016;doi:10.1136/acupmed-2015-010950.

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Individualized treatment with acupuncture in a primary care setting provided patients with fibromyalgia with pain relief compared to patients who received a placebo treatment, and the effects were persistent at 1 year, according to researchers in Spain.

Researchers studied data from 162 women with fibromyalgia who participated in the trial. Patients were aged 52.8 years, mean, with a mean disease duration of 70 months. A rheumatologist provided the diagnosis to 109 of the patients. All patients met 1990 American College of Rheumatology criteria for fibromyalgia and were naïve to acupuncture. Patients were excluded in the presence of a chronic pain condition unrelated to fibromyalgia, the use of anticoagulants or opiates, pregnancy or nursing, or pending occupational litigation related to fibromyalgia.

Patients were evaluated using the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ), the Hamilton Depression Rating hetero-evaluation Scale (HDRS), SF-12, pain on a VAS, tender point count, and 114 patients completed a questionnaire item about family structure.

Patients were evaluated at baseline (T0), 10 weeks (T1), 6 months (T2) and 12 months (T3) after they were randomly assigned to a treatment or sham treatment group. The acupuncture treatment group (n = 80) received acupuncture based on a previously established algorithm associated with traditional Chinese medicine principles. The sham acupuncture or placebo group (n = 82) received an application of guide tubes used in acupuncture to the dorsal and lumbar regions with the needles removed. Both groups received 20 minutes of treatment once a week.

At T1, pain on a VAS was reduced in the treatment group by 41.2% and in the sham group by 27.1%. At T3, pain relative to baseline was reduced by 19.9% in the treatment group and in the sham group by 6.1%. The FIQ scores at T1, T2 and T3 were improved by 35.9%, 25% and 22.2%, respectively, in the treatment group compared to 24.5%, 11.2% and 4.9%, respectively, in the sham group.

The fatigue domain of the FIQ was improved in the treatment group at T1 by 32.8% compared to 19% in the sham group. The anxiety domain in the treatment group was improved by 31% compared to 17.8% in the sham group, and depression scores improved in the treatment group by 33% compared to 18.5% in the sham group. Improvements favorable to the treatment group persisted at later time points, although at a smaller effect, according to the results.

The relative difference in pain intensity after adjusting for tender pressure points and total FIQ score improved by 14.4% in the treatment group compared to the sham group.

The researchers cautioned in their study about how these findings are interpreted because a greater quantity of antidepressants were utilized at the final time point and that may affect the results. – by Shirley Pulawski

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.