Fibromyalgia, also called fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body. It is a chronic disorder characterized by chronic, diffuse and widespread musculoskeletal pain, and its cause is still not clear. Patients with fibromyalgia have increased sensitivity to pain. In addition to widespread pain, there are other symptoms present including debilitating fatigue, sleep disturbance, jointstiffness, headaches and irritable bowel syndrome. People with fibromyalgia have often had depression and anxiety. The cause for fibromyalgia is unknown, but is believed involving psychological, genetic, neurobiological and environmental factors. In fibromyalgia, pain processing and neurotransmitter releasing in the brain are altered leading to lower pain thresholds. Fibromyalgia affects up to 4% of population. The main aims of therapy for this condition are to reduce pain and other symptoms and improve function. Painkillers, antidepressants and antiepileptics are commonly used. As fibromyalgia has a variety of symptoms, no single treatment will work for all of them. You need to find a treatment that suits you. Acupuncture is recommended as an effective option for reducing the pain sensitivity and improving quality of life. There are some evidences emerging showing that acupuncture is a useful treatment option for patients with fibromyalgia and acupuncture may have a great benefit when applied together with medication or other therapeutic options. More recently, Iannuccelli C et al showed that acupuncture could not only control pain but also improve associated symptoms and quality of life. There was a report about the effectiveness of acupuncture on patients with fibromyalgia. These eight women with fibromyalgia received a course of 2 months acupuncture treatments. After the course of acupuncture treatments there was a reduction in the pain threshold and sensitivity and improvement in the of anxiety and depression and quality of life.A new research has shown that acupuncture is effective on fibromyalgia and the related mechanism. This is randomized controlled clinical trial. 775 women with fibromyalgia participated the study. Treatments were applied twice a week for four weeks. The serum levels of serotonin and SP were evaluated before and after the eight sessions. Patients were clinically assessed by visual analog scale (VAS), the number of tender points (NTP), Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and Nottingham Health Profile (NHP) at baseline, after the last treatment, and one and three months after completion of all treatments. The results have shown that serum serotonin values increased significantly and SP levels decreased after treatment. Significant improvements were found in almost all clinical outcomes after treatment. These continued for three months (followup period) after treatments. They concluded that acupuncture may lead to long-term improvements on clinical outcomes and pain neuromediator values.
How does acupuncture work? Acupuncture stimulates nerve endings leading to releasing endorphins and other neurohumornal factors and changing the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord; acupuncture reduces inflammation by increasing production of vascular and immunomodulatory factors; acupuncture improves muscle stiffness and joint mobility by increasing local microcirculation.
Iannuccelli C et al Clin Exp Rheumatol (2012) 30:112-6
Karakay S et al Pain Med (2017) Dec 6. doi: 10.1093/pm/pnx263. [Epub ahead of print]