Study: Acupuncture No Help for Fibromyalgia
'True' Acupuncture Worked No Better Than 'Fake' Acupuncture
July 5, 2005 -- Traditional Chinese acupuncture may have little effect at
relieving the pain of fibromyalgia.
Researchers compared the effects of true acupuncture to three forms of fake
acupuncture in people with fibromyalgia. They found true acupuncture didn't
offer any significant pain relief benefits compared with the sham
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition affecting up to 4% of the U.S.
population. It causes pain and tenderness in the muscles and joints.
Researchers estimate that 60%-90% of people with fibromyalgia use
complementary or alternative treatments to treat their symptoms. Of those, as
many as one in five has tried acupuncture for pain relief.
However, previous studies of acupuncture in fibromyalgia treatment have
produced inconclusive results, in part because the participants were aware of
whether or not they received the treatment. In studies of pain relief
treatments, a placebo effect is common in which participants report pain relief
if they think they received the actual treatment (even if they only received a
Acupuncture Fails for Fibromyalgia
To avoid such placebo-effect problems in this study, researchers compared
the effects of true acupuncture, as performed by a trained and licensed
acupuncturist, to three different fake forms of acupuncture in 100 people with
fibromyalgia. The results appear in the July 5 issue of the Annals of
The sham acupuncture treatments included needles inserted at points for
treating a different condition, inserting needles at points that are not
acupuncture points, and using needle-like devices that did not pierce the
Each of the participants received one of the four treatments twice weekly
for 12 weeks. The participants were also allowed to continue any other
fibromyalgia treatments they were using before the study began.
The participants rated their pain on a scale of 1 (no pain) to 10 (worst
pain ever) at several points during the 12-week study.
The study showed no differences in pain relief between the four treatment
Researchers say the study may have been too small to detect small
differences between treatment groups, but their results show that acupuncture
in itself does not provide significant pain relief benefits in treating