Fibromyalgia patients treated with six sessions of acupuncture experienced significant symptomatic improvement compared to a group given simulated acupuncture sessions, according to a new Mayo Clinic study.
“This study shows there is something real about acupuncture and its effects on fibromyalgia,” says David Martin, MD, PhD, Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist and the study’s lead investigator. “Our study was performed on patients with moderate to severe fibromyalgia. 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 study, conducted by Mayo Clinic physicians specializing in pain management, included 50 patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia for whom other symptom-relief treatments were ineffective. The patients were randomly assigned to receive acupuncture or simulated acupuncture and were not informed which treatment they received; these treatments were administered in six sessions over two to three weeks.
Patients who received acupuncture experienced minimal side effects. Following treatments, symptoms of pain, fatigue and anxiety were most significantly improved in the patients given acupuncture. At seven months post-treatment, the patients’ symptoms of pain, anxiety and fatigue had returned to baseline levels; the patients experienced the largest improvement at one month following treatment.
Dr. Martin indicates that he believes the study patients would have seen sustained improvement with ongoing acupuncture. “It’s a reasonable expectation that if they received more acupuncture after two to three months, they would have maintained their improvement,” he says.
Mayo Clinic, Aug 24, 2005