A review study published in May 2013 conducted by the Cochrane Group on the usefulness of acupuncture for fibromyalgia found that “Acupuncture is probably better than non-acupuncture treatment in reducing pain and stiffness and improving overall well-being and fatigue”.
Fibromyalgia sufferers experience a range of symptoms including joint stiffness, sleep disturbances, fatigue and mood disorders. Together it affects their quality of life. There is no known cure and medical treatment options are limited to analgesics (pain killers), anti-inflammatories, antidepressants and exercise. Therefore treatments aimed to improve the ability to function, relieve pain and well being can be useful adjuncts to improving mobility and quality of life. There is some indication that it probably enhances the effects of drugs. Typically, acupuncture is a safe treatment with minimal side effects when carried out by qualified practitioner and works reduces pain by reducing inflammation and stimulating the body’s production of inherent pain killers, i.e. endorphins. The Cochrane review looked at changes symptoms and global well-being. Results from the studies show that compared to fake treatments those who received acupuncture had better improvements in their pain symptoms; Sleep was enhanced; fatigue was reduced; stiffness was reduced and global well-being to be higher. Results for physical functioning were mixed. For people on antidepressants the pain scores were worse when compared to those receiving acupuncture. The group concluded that there is sufficient evidence supporting the use of acupuncture in people with fibromyalgia when compared to those who are only receiving standard medical treatment or no treatment.
Treatment of pain and well-being is one of the main therapeutic uses of acupuncture. Amongst the various studies the extent and duration of pain relief and levels of improvement in well-being were variable. This may have been influenced by the types of acupuncture treatments delivered, as well as duration and number of the treatments received. In usual acupuncture treatments each treatment is individualised to the person’s presentation and condition. These results support the characteristic individualised beneficial responses normally experienced by acupuncture patients.