“This treatment produced an improvement in the participants’ condition, reflected by a reduction in pain intensity and enhanced functional capacity and quality of life after the intervention and during the follow up period,” Dr. Jorge Vas, lead author of the study wrote.
“Such an outcome has not been reported by previous studies following the application of standardized treatments: therefore, our results suggest that applying individualized treatment algorithms when starting a course of acupuncture may be important,” they conclude.
The researchers compared individually tailored acupuncture treatment with sham treatment in 153 adults diagnosed with fibromyalgia based on the diagnostic criteria set by the American College of Rheumatology.
Participants were randomly assigned to either real or sham treatments, each lasting 20 minutes. Participants continued the use of other medications prescribed for treating symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Measurements of pain, depression, physical and mental health were assessed with validated scoring systems before treatment and then after 10 weeks, 6 months and one year.
After 10 weeks pain intensity was lower by an average of 41%, compared to 27$ for those in the sham group. Significant differences were observed after one year with the average pain score reduction of 20% receiving the real treatment compared to 6% receiving the simulated treatment.
Scores from the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) also showed a significant difference between the groups, with reductions of 35%, 25%, and just over 22% for those given tailored acupuncture compared with 24.5%, just over 11%, and 5%, for those receiving the sham treatment.
“The effect persisted at 1 year, and its side effects were mild and infrequent. Therefore, the use of individualized acupuncture in patients with fibromyalgia is recommended,”
Clinical trials have not demonstrated that acupuncture is a proven treatment for fibromyalgia, to which the authors characterize that the lack of efficacy is due to clinical trials using a single standard approach to acupuncture compared to an individualized approach.