Fibromyalgia is a misunderstood and frequently misdiagnosed condition. It has only been in the last 20 years that doctors have agreed upon an exact definition of fibromyalgia, and even then, doctors still have varying degrees of diagnosis. There are no specific laboratory tests for fibromyalgia. Essentially, if you’ve had widespread pain over most of your body for over three months – pain along the spine or chest, pain both above and below the waist, pain on both sides of the body, and pain when 11 out of 18 defined “tender spots” are pressed, you are facing a fibromyalgia diagnosis.
Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) affects an estimated 2 percent of the population. Conventional therapies are limited in the success of treating this complex and unexplained condition. Current treatment is largely comprised of prescribing different medications for the varying symptoms in a trial and error approach. Research shows that as many as 90 percent of people with fibromyalgia have turned to complementary and alternative medicine to manage their symptoms. Acupuncture has become the popular choice of treatment and has shown to be an effective treatment for FMS.
A study done by the Mayo Clinic concluded that fibromyalgia symptoms were relieved by acupuncture. For the study, fifty patients were divided into two groups: one received acupuncture while the other was given simulated acupuncture. Both groups had six sessions over 2-3 weeks. In their findings, researchers noted that the most significant improvements were found in fatigue and anxiety levels. Researchers found that the reported relief acupuncture provided patients were equal to medications, such as anti-depressants, pain medication and muscle relaxers.
Research released in 2008 showed that after 20 acupuncture treatments, people with FMS had significant improvements in pain and quality of life that lasted for 3 months after treatment was stopped, with a gradual decline in those areas until all benefit was gone after 2 years.
Mayo Clinic (2006, June 13). Acupuncture Relieves Symptoms Of Fibromyalgia, Mayo Clinic Study Finds.
Journal of Rehabilitative Medicine. 2008 Jul;40(7):582-8. “A randomized controlled trial of acupuncture added to usual treatment for fibromyalgia.”