Study: Acupuncture Helps Fibromyalgia

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by Leenerbups, Sep 10, 2005.

  1. Leenerbups

    Leenerbups New Member

    Study: Acupuncture Helps Fibromyalgia

    Greatest Benefits Seen in Pain, Anxiety, and Fatigue

    By Miranda Hitti

    Aug. 24, 2005 -- Acupuncture significantly improves fibromyalgia symptoms, according to a study by Mayo Clinic scientists.

    The biggest improvements were seen in pain, anxiety, and fatigue. "However, activity and physical function levels did not change," write David Martin, MD, PhD, and colleagues.

    Their findings were presented in Sydney, Australia, at the International Association for the Study of Pain's 11th World Congress on Pain.

    About Acupuncture and Fibromyalgia

    Fibromyalgia is a syndrome of chronic pain. It causes widespread pain and tenderness in the muscles and soft tissue (including tender points) as well as sleep problems, fatigue, and other symptoms.

    Acupuncture has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. It involves inserting needles in strategic parts of the body to improve the flow of what practitioners call chi, or vital energy said to travel through the body on energy pathways called meridians.

    In recent decades, acupuncture has become more popular in the West, where it is also getting research attention for a number of conditions, including pain treatment.

    Acupuncture Study

    Martin's study included 50 fibromyalgia patients whose symptoms hadn't improved with other treatments.

    Half of the patients got six acupuncture sessions over two or three weeks. The other patients got the same schedule of fake acupuncture treatments.

    Those who got true acupuncture had notably bigger improvements in fibromyalgia symptoms than those who got fake acupuncture, write the researchers.

    Results were based on questionnaires completed before the study, immediately after treatment, and one and seven months later. The largest benefit was seen one month after the treatments ended, the researchers note. They write that acupuncture was well tolerated, with minimal side effects.

    Greatest Benefits Seen in Pain, Anxiety, and Fatigue
    Less Fatigue, Anxiety

    In a Mayo Clinic news release, Martin says, "This study shows there is something real about acupuncture and its effects on fibromyalgia.

    "We expected the acupuncture to improve the pain. We didn't really expect the largest benefit to be in fatigue or anxiety."

    The lack of change in activity or physical function "doesn't surprise me, as we see this pattern in other chronic pain problems," Martin continues.

    "You can relieve pain, but it's a lot harder to prompt activity changes. A chronically ill person needs more than symptom relief to resume a normal lifestyle. We're now beginning to work on that problem," he says.

    Participants were moderately debilitated by fibromyalgia, according to the news release. "Many have given up work, a lot of recreational activities, and made adjustments in their lives," says Martin. "They have had a significant psychological burden as a result of the loss of these activities; it's become part of their identities."

    Researcher's Advice

    Martin suggests that patients interested in acupuncture ask their doctors about it.

    "Many physicians are open to complementary medical techniques and can refer you to qualified practitioners in your area. There are also excellent resources on the Internet from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine," says Martin.

    The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is a branch of the National Institutes of Health.

    Opposite Finding Reported Earlier

    In July, another acupuncture studyacupuncture study yielded different results. That report appeared in the Annals of Internal Medicine. It compared acupuncture with three different kinds of fake acupuncture.

    In that study, treatments were done twice a week for three months in 100 people with fibromyalgia. The researchers reported no advantage for true acupuncture. They also noted that the study might have been too small to pick up on differences between the groups.

    Martin's study was also small, with 50 patients. It could serve as a model for future acupuncture trials, write Martin and colleagues.

  2. Dee50

    Dee50 New Member

    Thanks for the post. I just started acupuncture so far so good. One treatment a week.
    I better go fix dinner :)
  3. tansy

    tansy New Member

    Acupuncture 'more than a placebo'

    Scientists say they have proof that acupuncture works in its own right.

    Sceptics have said that any benefits gained from acupuncture are merely down to a person's expectation that the treatment will work.
    But researchers at University College London and Southampton University say they have separated out this placebo effect.
    Their findings, based on a series of experiments and brain scan results, are published in the journal NeuroImage.

    Dummy treatment

    The researchers used positron emission tomography (PET) scans to see what was happening in the brains of people having acupuncture treatment for arthritis pain.

    Each of the 14 volunteers underwent each of three interventions in a random order.
    In one intervention, patients were touched with blunt needles but were aware that the needle would not pierce the skin and that it did not have any therapeutic value.
    Another intervention involved treatment with specially developed "trick" needles that give the impression that the skin was being penetrated even though the needles never actually pierced the skin.

    The needles worked like stage daggers, with the tip disappearing into the body of the needle when pressure is applied. This was designed to make the patients believed that the treatment was real.

    The third intervention was real acupuncture.

    Brain activity

    When the researchers analysed the patients' PET scan results they found marked differences between the three interventions.

    Only the brain areas associated with the sensation of touch were activated when the volunteers were touched with the blunt needles.

    During the trick needle treatment, an area of the brain associated with the production of natural opiates - substances that act in a non-specific way to relieve pain - were activated.

    This same area was activated with the real acupuncture but, in addition, another region of the brain, the insular, was excited by the treatment.
    This was a pathway known to be associated with acupuncture treatment and thought to be involved in pain modulation.

    Sarah Williams of the British Acupuncture Council said: "This is very positive news for acupuncture and this latest research is an exciting illustration of what acupuncturists have known for a long time - that acupuncture works and its effectiveness goes beyond the placebo effect."

    Professor Henry McQuay, professor of pain relief at the University of Oxford and member of the Bandolier group that looks at the evidence behind different medical treatments, said: "The great bulk of the randomised controlled trials to date do not provide convincing evidence of pain relief over placebo.
    "Some people do report that acupuncture makes them feel better.
    "But it is extremely difficult, technically, to study acupuncture and tease out the placebo effect."

    Story from BBC NEWS:
    Published: 2005/04/30
  4. my rhuemie said don't waste your money as accupunture doesn't help fibro, but heck he isn't either.
  5. catgal

    catgal New Member

    Hi Leenerbups~~Thanks so much for your post on acupuncture. I am 56 and have been on disability since June/05. I was born with severe asthma, allergies, and IBS. Diagnosed with FM/CFS at the age of 12. Later in life developed osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Then, extremely advanced, progressive and inoperable degenerative disc disease along with multiple other back/neck/shoulder problems, and have had 3 bad strokes in the past year.

    I have used all kinds of medications from antidepressants, Bextra, major narcotic pain relievers, muscle relaxers, and stroke meds. I'm so sick of medications, but also very thankful for the "temporary" relief they've given me.

    However, I got so desperate several years ago after trying everything I could, that I flew to a renound Acupuncture Clinic in Oklahoma City and did something I was absolutely terrified of--having needles put in my back and other parts of my body. I have always been phobic of needles of any kind. But I was desperate. I had electro-acupuncture and traditional acupuncture every other day for a month. I didn't even feel the multitudes of needles they put in my body. With the electro-acpuncture, they attached little jumpter cables that ran from a small electronic box to the top of the needles, handed me the little electronic box, and I could increase or decrease the amount of current I could stand going down the needles into the specific areas of my body, and I was then comfortably left alone to enjoy the soothing music. Each session lasted about 15 minutes.

    Along with the electro & traditional acupuncture, I was given various bottles of high quality, genuine Chinese herbs to take every day.

    By the 3rd week, I awoke one morning (from actual sleep)and was totally pain free. I couldn't believe it! Where was all that horrendous, continuous pain? Gone.

    And the bottles of herbs were miraculous. I had energy; my skin all over my body felt like silk on velvet and was flawless; my face glowed--it was so soft, flawless, and radiant; my kidney infection disappeared in 2 days; and my awful menapausal symptoms vanished. My hair glissened and felt unbelieveably healthy; my fingernails grew long & strong, and my eyes sparkled for the first time in decades.

    Each patient is given their own individual treatment program based on a long history of your life, lifestyle, and particular ailments.

    Through my personal program, I eventually had no pain; no fatigue; no aches, no depression.

    When I first walked into the Clinic, I walked hunched back and had to use a cane; I was so depressed & despondent; I looked a hundred years old from all the years of pain, aching, stress, trying to work, sleepless nights, meds, worries, strain, and I hadn't heard the genuine sound of my own laughter or felt a real smile on my face in longer than I could remember.

    But, when I walked out of that Clinic at the end of the month--I was laughing & smiling, standing straight & flexible, walking with a bounce in my stride, luscious hair, sparkling eyes, long red painted fingernails, velvet skin, flawless complexion, no pain, aches, or fatigue, and I looked 10 years younger than I actually was.

    I wish I could have stayed longer than a month, but I had to get back home, get back to work, and get back to LIVING!
    {and needless to say....I bought extra bottles of those herbs to take with me).

    And although I couldn't afford it, the Clinic also offered various massage therapies, physical therapy, counseling, and many other health amenities.

    Back home, no one could believe the miraculous change in me. I tossed all the drugs, and lived, ate, and used the personal program the Clinic had devised for me. However, I lived (live) in a very beautiful, but isolated Indian Reservation in the Rocky Mountains. I tried many different acupuncturists that lived two hours across the Mountains to continue maintenance on my acupuncture, but none did it like the Clinic did. And I slowly went back downhill; back to the pain, aching, sleepless nights, depression, exhaustion, back to the meds, and back to having to use a cane again. All I was left with was what the wonders that the herbs still gave me.

    Someday soon, I hope to move back to Oklahoma and somehow get the money to go back to that Clinic and be able to stay on an acupuncture/herbal & holistic maintenance program and get my life back.

    But while at the Clinic, I heard incredible stories by other patients I got to know. One woman had been sent home by the Mayo Hospital--then by the Cancer Institutes of America with terminal cancer as there was nothing more they could do for her. They gave her 5 to 6 months to live. As a last resort to ease her pain in dying, she heard about this Clinic in Oklahoma City and started her personalized program. She told me that was 8 years ago, and now she has no signs of cancer, looked youthful and healthy, and said she had to hurry and get dressed as she had to meet her girlfriend for tennis at the Country Club. And there were so many other extraordinary stories I heard from patients there.

    I definitely believe acupuncture works along with geniune high quality Chinese herbs and acupuncturists who are taught the real art of acupuncture by traditional masters.

    Here in the U.S., just about anybody can hang out a sign offering acupuncture. I found that out the hard way.

    So, if anyone is interested in trying acupuncture--be sure you know their credentials, how/who/and where they were trained and what they charge. Know as much about them as you possibly can....word of mouth or referrences are always the best.

    Take care and Healing Blessings to you, Carol....

    [This Message was Edited on 09/10/2005]
  6. Leenerbups

    Leenerbups New Member

    I am currently searching for a really good one. All of them around me in NJ charge $150 the intial visit and $80 a visit there after. EXPENSIVE.

    I wonder if there is some organization the really good ones register with?
  7. Dee50

    Dee50 New Member

    Thanks for sharing your story! Enjoyed reading it. I hope you make it back to that clinic real soon :)
  8. wiseeagle

    wiseeagle New Member


    THanks for bringing this to everyone's attention, not only
    acupunture is helpful for fibromyalgia but lymphatic massage is also very helpful. The real problem here is the person
    offering these services -- unforuntaly alot of practictanors
    are not very good. You must research their credentials. I have a friend that is an acupuntist from China ( he's an MD
    only in China--didn't want to redo everything here in the states but he is excellent. He will tell you up front if he
    can help you, and how many treatment you probably will need,
    then he leaves it up to you -- if you need to come back.
    Unfortuntaly more are out there that just keep you coming for
    the money. He also has been teaching UNC here in Chapel Hill
    NC dr.'s the art of acupunture and herbal remedies. Quite a feat. The problem is still dr's don't like complementary medicine because they don't understand it and view it as
    competation-- their afraid there might lose my pt.'s. It
    should have never been called alternative in the first place.

    I also have a friend who is a liceased massage therapist,
    she will only do light lymphatic massage, because it's really only the right treatment esp. for fibromyalgia.
    I myself practice complementary medicine, I am an RN, but
    thru alot of illnesses and the methods of traditional medicine I alway choose complementary medicine first and then if needed I will add traditional. I am a Reiki Master, and this is another method that is quite useful.

    Reiki is excatly like acupunture except it is NOT invasive.
    The general prinicles are the same--it unblocks meridians and negative energy.

    Hope this info. is helpful to all.

    Light and Love
  9. Leenerbups

    Leenerbups New Member

    Would you ask your friend from China what exactly to look for in credentials?

    I'm not clear on credentials they should have that shows they are good.
  10. Catgal that's wonderful, I sure wish insurances would pay towards it.
  11. Pianowoman

    Pianowoman New Member

    Hi All,

    Acupuncture has been helping me for years.When nothing else was working, I knew thatI would always feel better after my acupuncture treatment. For a period of time, I was getting them once a week.

    I get the treatments less often now but they always make me feel better.
    I do know that not everyone responds as well but it's definitely worth a try.You need a few treatments before you know if it's working.


  12. Kat_in_Texas

    Kat_in_Texas New Member

    I was dx'ed with FM last fall and began acupuncture treatments in March. At the time of my first treatment, I could barely move either arm and my entire upper body was in pain. By the end of WEEK 1 (three treatments the first week) I could lift my arms above my head with no pain whatsoever, something I had not been able to do for months! I swear by acupuncture, it really saved me! I don't go as often as I should these days (my acupuncturist recommends one treatment every 10 days), I know it works and I go as often as I can afford it now. I HIGHLY recommend it for FM sufferers.

  13. Kat_in_Texas

    Kat_in_Texas New Member

    Hi Carol,

    I'm very interested in the clinic in OKC you mentioned. I'm from Oklahoma City but now live in Dallas. I've been seeing an acupuncturist here in the DFW area for months. I recently mentioned my success with acupuncture to my brother-in-law who still lives in OKC ... he has severe arthritis ... and he is interested in trying acupuncture but doesn't know how to go about finding a good clinic.

    What is the name of the clinic and/or acupuncturist you saw in OKC? I'll pass it along to my BIL.

    Thanks so much!

  14. wiseeagle

    wiseeagle New Member

    THe credentials are excatly what Pjsmonster said. First a Liceased MD (or one from another country that was a doctor and learned acupuncture and herbal remedies during their medical
    training). Been in practice for a long time and of coarse liceased in the art of acupuncture. Some insurances actually pay for it, but of coarse it depends who you have. And yes it can be pricey, but it NEVER can do harm with the right practictioner!! Think about the other modility I suggested too, some people are afraid of needles but they are very thin and with the skill of trained hands you really feel nothing!!

    Hope this answers your question.

  15. Leenerbups

    Leenerbups New Member

    I get them often, and thank goodness for them too! I am also a certified massage therapist and a Reiki Master. :)
    [This Message was Edited on 09/11/2005]

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