Individualized acupuncture treatments were tied to greater pain relief for people with fibromyalgia, according to results from a small trial in Spain that compared the approach to sham acupuncture.
Researches found the benefits of tailored acupuncture seemed to persist even a year after treatment. But an expert not involved in the research thinks the evidence for acupuncture is still limited.
Both groups experienced some pain relief, but the reduction in pain intensity was significantly larger at 41%, in the real acupuncture group compared with 27% in the sham acupuncture group.
By one year, those in the acupuncture group still reported a 19% reduction in pain intensity compared to their scores at the start of the study, while the sham group reported only a 6% reduction.
Comparing real acupuncture treatments to imitated acupuncture can be difficult as even the sham treatment group does attend a treatment session and gets personal attention from an acupuncturist, which past research suggests may have some effect of its own.
Drug treatments for fibromyalgia have had mixed results and they often carry side effects and may not be effective said lead author, Dr.Jorge Vas of the Pain Treatment Unit at Dona Mercedes Primary Health Center in Seville.
Said Vas, “It is also surprising that the control group treated with sham acupuncture, which was stimulation of acupuncture points with a little tube without puncture, worked for pain relief after the sessions even up to 10 weeks after finished treatment.”
The value of the current study’s findings may be limited, however, according to Dr. Marco Matucci ceramic, professor of rheumatology at the University of Florence, who was not part of the research.
The acupuncturists certainly knew whether they were delivering actual or sham treatment, and patients could also have been aware, which limits the results, he said.
February 18, 2016