Fibromyalgia

The current diagnostic and treatment pathway for patients with fibromyalgia is lengthy, complex, and characterized by multiple physician visits with an average 2-year wait until diagnosis is made. It is clear that effective identification and appropriate treatment of FM remain a challenge in current clinical practice.

A study published in the June edition of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings shows acupuncture can relieve fatigue and anxiety in fibromyalgia patients for up to seven months after the treatment. This study was also presented last year at the 11th World Congress on Pain.  David P. Martin, MD, PhD, and Mayo Clinic colleagues tested 50 fibromyalgia patients; half were treated with acupuncture, half got fake treatments. Neither group knew which treatment it was receiving.  The patients got six treatments over a two- to three-week period. They were questioned about their symptoms immediately after treatment, one month later, then again seven months later.   Based on their answers to the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, a standard tool in fibromyalgia treatment, the "true" acupuncture patients had less fatigue and fewer anxiety symptoms one month after treatment than the "fake" acupuncture group.

An earlier study -- reported in the July 5, 2005 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine -- also showed acupuncture gave no significant pain relief to fibromyalgia patients.  Many researchers with no clinical knowledge must improperly design some studies that should not be able to reach proper conclusion.

Acupuncture stand out as one of the main choices of management because Acupuncture leads a cascade of physiological effects through neuro-endocrine-immune network, the therapeutic effect is exerted possibly

1. may induces habituation effects in pain related brain areas for reducing pain

2. may modulate the activities of limbic system of brain for relieving anxiety, depression and mood swing

3. may balance out the brain’s hormone-regulator, the hypothalamic-pituitary axis for energy and hormone balance

 Medication for pain, depression may make the fatigue worse, irritating stomach, causing constipation, etc. On the opposite, acupuncture carries least side effect, but multiple positive effects on both body and mind, in improving sleep, reducing anxiety and depression, increasing energy, eliminating pain feeling through the cascade of physiological effects of neuro-endocrine-immune network.