Fibromyalgia affects one in 20 people globally and is primarily characterised by chronic widespread pain that is associated with fatigue, disordered sleep patterns and/or depression.
According to the researchers, tailored acupuncture improves functional capacity and quality of life and the beneficial effects were still evident a year later.
“The treatment produced an improvement in the participants’ condition reflected by a reduction in pain intensity and enhanced functional capacity and quality of life after the intervention and during the follow up period,” the researchers wrote in the paper published in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine.
Almost 90 percent of people who have fibromyalgia try some form of complementary therapy, including massage, hydrotherapy and acupuncture.
To find out that personalised approach would make a difference, the researchers compared individually tailored acupuncture treatment with sham treatment in 153 adults, diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
Both the real and simulated treatments, to which participants were randomly assigned, were provided in nine weekly sessions, each lasting 20 minutes.
The results showed that after 10 weeks, perceived pain intensity was lower among those given real acupuncture.
Their pain scores had dropped by an average of 41 percent, compared with an average of 27 percent for those given the simulated treatment.
Significant differences persisted after a year, with an average fall of 20 percent in the pain score among those treated with the real thing compared with just over 6 percent for those given the simulated treatment.
Though the side effects were few and mild, researchers suggest that tailored acupuncture may be a viable treatment for fibromyalgia.