A Swiss research team in Geneva has examined the effectiveness of electro-acupuncture in treating Fibromyalgia. 70 patients (54 women) who all met the American College of Rheumatology criteria for Fibromyalgia received either sham acupuncture (‘wrong’ points used) or the real thing. Various methods were used for patients to record their level of symptom activity and the amount of medication they used before and after treatment. Sleep quality, morning stiffness and pain were all monitored.
Over a three week period the electroacupuncture treatment was administered with only the doctor giving the treatment knowing whether or not the needles were being placed correctly and whether the amount and type of electrical current being passed through the needles was correct.
Seven out of the eight measurements showed that only the acupuncture group and not the placebo (dummy acupuncture) group had benefits (as in all such studies a few minor improvements are always noted in the dummy or placebo group, but these were only slight).
The acupuncture group, after treatment, required far more pressure on tender points to produce pain while use of pain killing medication was virtually halved as was these patient’s assessment of regional pain levels. There was also a significant increase in quality of sleep. The length of time morning stiffness was experienced only improved a small amount.
Around 25% of the treated group did not improve significantly while all the others showed a remarkable amount of improvement with some having almost complete relief of all symptoms.
The duration of the improvement was noted to be ‘several weeks’ in most patients which seems to be in line with Dr.Baldry’s observation of it being necessary to repeat treatment every few weeks.
The fact that there are virtually no side effects from electroacupuncture make it attractive when compared with pain killing and/or antidepressant medication.
Dry Needling and Injection into Trigger Points
There have been few clinical trials involving bodywork in treating fibromyalgia however there is abundant evidence of the successful use of various methods for treating trigger points including injection of saline of procaine or even of simply ‘dry needling’ the trigger points. In one study 46% of those people with MPS treated found that this approach offered them the longest lasting relief of symptoms compared with other forms of treatment they had received. 69% required less medication for some time afterwards.
There is a mass of anecdotal reporting of benefit from use of chiropractic in treatment of Fibromyalgia and CFS(ME). Few clinical studies support these claims but since the manipulative methodology of osteopathy and chiropractic have become ever closer, and since the methods of osteopathy which focus on muscles notably Strain Counterstrain and Muscle Energy Technique are now widely used by massage therapists, and since there are indeed clinical studies involving osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMT) and massage, see below, it is safe to assume that the anecdotal claims are accurate. Those forms of chiropractic which focus on muscles, such as Morter Bio Energetic Synchronisation Technique (BEST) are more likely to be helpful in Fibromyalgia cases than the more active adjustment methods although these do have their place when joint restrictions are a feature.
It is generally agreed that the difference between CFS(ME) and Fibromyalgia are marginal at best and that many, probably most, patients in each category could just as easily be diagnosed as having the other condition/diagnosis.