Fibromyalgia symptoms: Acupuncture provides relief

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Fibromyalgia symptoms: Acupuncture provides relief

Acupuncture may be an effective treatment for fibromyalgia, a new Mayo Clinic study finds.

What happened? People living with the chronic pain of fibromyalgia may have a new option for relief.

In a Mayo Clinic study, acupuncture significantly improved symptoms of fibromyalgia. Among 50 participants, those who received acupuncture reported improvement in fatigue and anxiety, among other symptoms. Acupuncture was well tolerated, with minimal side effects.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by fatigue, widespread pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons, and multiple tender points — places on your body where slight pressure causes pain. There is no cure for fibromyalgia. Typically, treatment is a lifelong combination of medication and self-care.

Mayo's acupuncture study is one of only three randomized and controlled studies involving people with fibromyalgia. Of the other studies, results were mixed. One study found acupuncture to be helpful, while the other reported that acupuncture was ineffective for pain relief.

"The results of the study convince me there is something more than the placebo effect to acupuncture," says David Martin, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study and a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist and pain specialist. "It affirms a lot of clinical impressions that this complementary medical technique is helpful for patients."

What does this mean to you? Acupuncture therapy usually involves a series of weekly or biweekly treatments with thin needles inserted to various depths at strategic points on your body. If you'd like to try it, tell your doctor. He or she may recommend a certified acupuncturist or a medical doctor who uses acupuncture as part of his or her practice.

Last Updated: 06/16/2006
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