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Personalized Acupuncture can ease pain from Fibromyalgia, Study says

Update Date: Feb 19, 2016 11:32 AM EST

Acupuncture might be the key to easing fibromyalgia pain, a new but small study is reporting.

"Individualized acupuncture is a safe and good therapeutic option for the treatment of patients with fibromyalgia," lead researcher Dr. Jorge Vas of the pain treatment unit at Dona Mercedes Primary Health Center in Seville, Spain, said reported by the Chicago Tribune.

For this study, Dr. Vas and colleagues recruited 164 adults who were diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which is a condition that is characterized by muscle pain and tenderness throughout the body.

The patients were divided into two groups. One group received a weekly 20-minute acupuncture session that was tailored to their needs for nine weeks. The other group received fake a 20-minute session (a placebo treatment) over the same time span of nine weeks. All of the patients were required to continue on with their fibromyalgia medication during the course of the study.

The follow-up portions of the study, which included interviews, questionnaires and physical examinations, occurred at 10 weeks, six months and 12 months.

At 10-weeks, the acupuncture group reported a reduction in their pain intensity by 41 percent. The patients in the placebo group also experienced a pain reduction, but by a smaller margin of 27 percent.

At the 12-month point, patients from both groups continued to report a reduction in pain intensity. The acupuncture group reported a 19 percent reduction whereas the placebo group had only a six percent reduction.

"Although it was allowed for the participants to continue with the pharmacological [drug] treatment they were taking beforehand, when the study was finished, the patients who received individualized acupuncture were taking less medication than the group on sham acupuncture," Vas said.

The researchers stated that they were shocked to see that a placebo treatment helped with pain.

"It is also surprising that the control group treated with sham acupuncture, which was stimulation of acupuncture points with a little tube without puncture, worked for pain relief after the sessions even up to 10 weeks after finished treatment," lead author Dr. Jorge Vas from the Pain Treatment Unit at Dona Mercedes Primary Health Center in Seville said to Reuters, reported by FOX News.

Other measures, such as how the condition affected their lives, anxiety, depression, and fatigue did improve. The team noted that after one-year, acupuncture patients who reported taking fewer medications had used more antidepressants.

The study's findings were published in the journal, Acupuncture in Medicine.

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