Abstract: A randomized clinical trial of acupuncture compared with sham acupuncture in fibromyalgia

Ann Intern Med. 2005 Jul 5;143(1):10-9.

Assefi NP, Sherman KJ, Jacobsen C, Goldberg J, Smith WR, Buchwald D.

The Group Health Cooperative Center for Health Studies, and University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA.

BACKGROUND: Fibromyalgia is a common chronic pain condition for which patients frequently use acupuncture.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether acupuncture relieves pain in fibromyalgia.

DESIGN: Randomized, sham-controlled trial in which participants, data collection staff, and data analysts were blinded to treatment group.

SETTING: Private acupuncture offices in the greater Seattle, Washington, metropolitan area.

PATIENTS: 100 adults with fibromyalgia.

INTERVENTION: Twice-weekly treatment for 12 weeks with an acupuncture program that was specifically designed to treat fibromyalgia, or 1 of 3 sham acupuncture treatments: acupuncture for an unrelated condition, needle insertion at nonacupoint locations, or noninsertive simulated acupuncture.

MEASUREMENTS: The primary outcome was subjective pain as measured by a 10-cm visual analogue scale ranging from 0 (no pain) to 10 (worst pain ever). Measurements were obtained at baseline; 1, 4, 8, and 12 weeks of treatment; and 3 and 6 months after completion of treatment. Participant blinding and adverse effects were ascertained by self-report. The primary outcomes were evaluated by pooling the 3 sham-control groups and comparing them with the group that received acupuncture to treat fibromyalgia.

RESULTS: The mean subjective pain rating among patients who received acupuncture for fibromyalgia did not differ from that in the pooled sham acupuncture group (mean between-group difference, 0.5 cm [95% CI, -0.3 cm to 1.2 cm]). Participant blinding was adequate throughout the trial, and no serious adverse effects were noted.

LIMITATIONS: A prescription of acupuncture at fixed points may differ from acupuncture administered in clinical settings, in which therapy is individualized and often combined with herbal supplementation and other adjunctive measures. A usual-care comparison group was not studied.

CONCLUSION: Acupuncture was no better than sham acupuncture at relieving pain in fibromyalgia.

PMID: 15998750 [PubMed – in process]

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One thought on “Abstract: A randomized clinical trial of acupuncture compared with sham acupuncture in fibromyalgia”

  1. nerdse says:

    I had several acupuncture treatments. The first seemed to help a little, the rest made the pain almost unbearable. I would have questioned the technique but the same doctor did a treatment for an ocular migraine where I had basically lost 98% of my sight, and my sight returned plus the migraine was relieved. He did wonderfully with that.
    So the question becomes, how do you know if you have a good acupuncturist v. someone who got lucky 2 times? Or is the problem related to something that happened teh first time I had local anesthesia for a filling (I went to an old fashioned dentist and never needed novocaine nor did any of his filligs ever fail to this day, so I wasn’t introduced to tooth dams & 4 sets of hands in my houth aiming a high pressure water drill while a huge suction hose got draped out of my mouth, until I was 27). At the time, when the dentist came in, we both assumed I was numbed up because my mough was sagging – but I had intense pain the first shot he did at that water torture drill. He went back in to investigate, and told me my mouth had 2 separate sets of nerves.
    So, does my whole body maybe also have 2 different sets of nerves and is that why the acupuncturist I had failed, or did he just get lucky 2 times bu tnot really know what he was doing?
    And how can you tell?

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