Fibromyalgia is a medical condition characterized by generalized body pain and tenderness. It affects all age groups and both males and females, however, it’s common among the young and middle aged women with equal prevalence in different parts of the world.
The etiology of fibromyalgia is not known. It is however thought to be due to an interaction between environmental and genetic factors (as the condition tends to run in families).
Patient presents with persistent generalized body pain and tenderness (≥3months), weakness, stiffness, cognitive problems, sleep problems and impairment in the daily activities. These features may be seen in other conditions. Thus, the diagnosis of fibromyalgia is only made after the other causes of these features have been excluded. Laboratory tests are also done to rule out other possible diagnoses.
No specific curative treatment for fibromyalgia, however, lifestyle and certain medications can help improve patient’s condition. In children, diet, psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy), relaxation techniques and aerobic exercise are all that is needed to improve their condition.
For pharmacotherapy, the medications include: analgesics, antianxiety agents, skeletal muscle relaxants, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants. Other agents used in the management of fibromyalgia are: vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, herbs and supplements.
Acupuncture has been shown to improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia. A review of different studies (sixteen in number) involving 1081 participants conducted in this regard revealed that acupuncture alone or in combination with cupping therapy was superior to conventional medications in ameliorating the pain of fibromyalgia. No adverse effect was noted from this treatment modality.
Another study, conducted by Mayo clinic, compared the use of true acupuncture alone with simulated acupuncture. The participant in the former group experienced significant improvement in the fibromyalgia symptoms. Anxiety and fatigue were the most significantly improved symptoms, and no side effect was reported.
The above studies clearly showed that incorporation of acupuncture into the management protocol of fibromyalgia can improve patients’ quality of life.
- Cao H, Li X, Han M, Liu J.Acupoint stimulation for fibromyalgia: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials.Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. doi: 10.1155/2013/362831. Epub 2013 Dec 17. Link
- Martin DP, Sletten CD, Williams BA, Berger IH. Improvement in fibromyalgia symptoms with acupuncture: results of a randomized controlled trial.Mayo Clin Proc. 2006 Jun;81(6):749-57. Link