Acupuncture for treating fibromyalgia

John C. Deare, Zhen Zheng, Charlie C.L. Xue, Jian Ping Liu, Jingsheng Shang, Sean W. Scott, Geoff Littlejohn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

One in five fibromyalgia sufferers use acupuncture treatment within two years of diagnosis. To examine the benefits and safety of acupuncture treatment for fibromyalgia. We searched CENTRAL, PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, National Research Register, HSR Project and Current Contents, as well as the Chinese databases VIP and Wangfang to January 2012 with no language (100 point scale); treatment worsened function by a mean of 6 points (95% CI -10.9 to -0.7). Low-quality evidence from three trials (289 participants) suggested no difference in adverse events between real (9%) and sham acupuncture (35%); RR 0.44 (95% CI 0.12 to 1.63).Moderate quality evidence from one study (58 participants) found that compared with standard therapy alone (antidepressants and exercise), adjunct acupuncture therapy reduced pain at one month after treatment: mean pain was 8 points on a 0 to 10 point scale in the standard therapy group; treatment reduced pain by 3 points (95% CI -3.9 to -2.1), an absolute reduction of 30% (21% to 39%). Two people treated with acupuncture reported adverse events; there were none in the control group (RR 3.57; 95% CI 0.18 to 71.21). Global well-being, sleep, fatigue and stiffness were not reported. Physical function data were not usable.Low quality evidence from one study (38 participants) showed a short-term benefit of acupuncture over antidepressants in pain relief: mean pain was 29 points (0 to 100 point scale) in the antidepressant group; acupuncture reduced pain by 17 points (95% CI -24.1 to -10.5). Other outcomes or adverse events were not reported.Moderate-quality evidence from one study (41 participants) indicated that deep needling with or without deqi did not differ in pain, fatigue, function or adverse events. Other outcomes were not reported.Four studies reported no differences between acupuncture and control or other treatments described at six to seven months follow-up.No serious adverse events were reported, but there were insufficient adverse events to be certain of the risks. There is low to moderate-level evidence that compared with no treatment and standard therapy, acupuncture improves pain and stiffness in people with fibromyalgia. There is moderate-level evidence that the effect of acupuncture does not differ from sham acupuncture in reducing pain or fatigue, or improving sleep or global well-being. EA is probably better than MA for pain and stiffness reduction and improvement of global well-being, sleep and fatigue. The effect lasts up to one month, but is not maintained at six months follow-up. MA probably does not improve pain or physical functioning. Acupuncture appears safe. People with fibromyalgia may consider using EA alone or with exercise and medication. The small sample size, scarcity of studies for each comparison, lack of an ideal sham acupuncture weaken the level of evidence and its clinical implications. Larger studies are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberCD007070
Number of pages110
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Volume2013
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

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