April 17, 2013

Acupuncture better than drugs for fibromyalgia

Acupuncture and associated techniques are regularly used for a broad range of pain, neurological and psychological conditions.  The broad systemic affects of acupuncture appear to make it a valid treatment for a wide range of complex systematic conditions such as fibromyalgia and other related auto-immune/inflammatory based conditions. 

To evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture for fibromyalgia, Iranian researchers from the Shiraz University of Medical Sciences in Shiraz, Iran, conducted a study comparing acupuncture treatment with fluoxetine (prozac).  

30 patients with fibromyalgia were recruited and evenly divided into an acupuncture treatment group and a drug treatment group (fluoxetine, prozac).  

Treatment was offered and was analyzed by various pain scales including the visual analogue scale (VAS) and the fibromyalgia impact questionnaire (FIQ), along with physical inspection of the number of tender points.

Patients received two weeks of acupuncture three times per week at the points listed below.  Fluoxetine was administered at 20mg for 8 weeks.

Points used:

  • ST 36
  • GB 34
  • CV 6
  • SP 6
  • LI 4
  • ST 44
  • UB 40
  • HT 7
  • GV 20

After 4 weeks, the acupuncture group was significantly better than the drug treatment group in the number of tender points. Total fibromyalgia symptoms were also significantly improved in the acupuncture group compared to the drug treatment group during the study period with the largest difference in FIQ total scores observed at 4 weeks (42.2 vs 34.8 in the drug vs acupuncture group respectively).

At 1 year follow up, patients in the acupuncture group were significantly better than the drug treatment group in all measures. Fatigue and anxiety were the most significantly improved symptoms during the long term follow up period.

 

This study shows that acupuncture or dry needling at these points as per the administered treatment protocol is significantly more effective both in the short and long term than traditional drug treatment of fibromyalgia and with no reported side effects.

For a full treatment protocol using Low Level Laser therapy combined with these acupuncture points for the treatment of fibromyalgia see this article: Low Level Laser Therapy treatment protocol for Fibromyalgia