Acupuncture in general and electroacupuncture in particular has an excellent track record in treatment of pain.
One of the leading experts in use of acupuncture for fibromyalgia pain relief is Dr. P. Baldry, after asserting categorically that acupuncture is certainly the treatment of choice for dealing with Myofascial Pain Syndrome or trigger point problems states: “The pain in Fibromyalgia, which would seem to be due to some as yet unidentified noxious substance in the circulation giving rise to neural hyperactivity at tender points and trigger points takes a protracted course and it is only possible by means of acupuncture to suppress this neural hyperactivity for short periods”.
As is clear there are other ways, however if acupuncture is used for fibromyalgia Baldry believes that it is necessary to repeat treatment every 2 to 3 weeks for months or even years, which he regards as unsatisfactory, “but nevertheless some fibromyalgia patients insist that acupuncture for pain relief improves the quality of their lives”. Relief from pain for weeks on end and an enhanced quality of life would seem quite a desirable objective, perhaps helping ease the pain burden while more fundamental approaches are dealing with constitutional and causative issues.
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.