Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia


Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) affects an estimated 2 percent of the population. Conventional therapies are limited in the success of treating this complex and unexplained condition. Current treatment is largely comprised of prescribing different medications for the varying symptoms in a trial and error approach. Research shows that as many as 90 percent of people with fibromyalgia have turned to complementary and alternative medicine to manage their symptoms. Acupuncture, in particular, has become a popular treatment choice and has shown to be an effective treatment for FMS.

What is Fibromyalgia Syndrome?

Fibromyalgia is a medically unexplained syndrome characterized by chronic widespread pain, a heightened and painful response to pressure, insomnia, fatigue, and depression. While not all affected persons experience all associated symptoms, the following symptoms commonly occur together:

  • chronic pain

  • debilitating fatigue

  • difficulty sleeping

  • anxiety and depression

  • joint stiffness

  • difficulty swallowing

  • painful menstrual cramps

  • incontinence

  • irritable bowel syndrome

  • chronic headaches & jaw pain

  • dryness in mouth, nose, & eyes

  • hypersensitivity to odors, bright lights, and loud noises

  • restless legs syndrome

  • inability to concentrate (called "fibro fog")

  • numbness or tingling in the fingers and feet

  • poor circulation in hands and feet (called Raynaud's phenomenon)

Fibromyalgia is diagnosed when there is a history of widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum duration of three months and pain when pressure is applied to at least 11 of 18 designated tender points on the body. This condition does not result in any physical damage to the body or its tissues and there are no laboratory tests which can confirm this diagnosis.

Symptoms often begin after a physical or emotional trauma, but in many cases there appears to be no triggering event. Women are more prone to develop the disorder than are men, and the risk of fibromyalgia increases with age.

Acupuncture Treatment

Oriental medicine theory indicates that this pain is seen as a disruption of the flow of Qi within the body. The disruption of Qi that results in fibromyalgia is usually associated with disharmonies of the Liver, Spleen, Kidney and Heart Systems.

Oriental Medicine does not recognize fibromyalgia as one particular disease pattern. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual depending on their constitution, emotional state, intensity and location of their pain, digestive health, sleeping patterns and an array of other signs and symptoms. Therefore, if 10 people are treated with Oriental medicine for fibromyalgia, each of these 10 people will receive a unique, customized treatment with different acupuncture points, different herbs and different lifestyle and dietary recommendations.

Because the symptoms of fibromyalgia are highly variable form one person to another, a wide array of traditional and alternative treatments has been shown to be the most effective way of treating this difficult syndrome. A treatment program may include a combination of psychological or behavioral therapies, medications, exercise, acupuncture, herbal medicine and bodywork.

Are you or someone you know dealing with fibromyalgia? Contact Linda Marino, Acupuncture Physician, Marino Clinic and learn what Oriental Medicine can do for you!


Study Shows Acupuncture Alleviates Fibromyalgia Associated Symptoms

Acupuncture has been shown to alleviate symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. The Mayo Clinic performed a scientific study regarding the use of acupuncture to address symptoms of fibromyalgia. They published the results in their journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings in 2006. Symptoms of this disease include persistent pain occurring in the musculoskeletal system, problems with sleeping, anxiety and extreme lethargy.

The study involved a total of 50 participants. Half received genuine acupuncture, with the addition of electrical stimulation applied to the needles. The other half received sham acupuncture, meaning the needles and faux electrical stimulation merely mimicked a true treatment. Treatment occurred six times for all patients within approximately a three-week time period.

Evaluations were made at the end of the trial, at one-month post-treatment, and another after seven months. Patients assessed the severity of their symptoms through the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire. At the conclusion of the trial and one month after, the real acupuncture group reported a significant drop in their levels of pain, anxiety and lethargy, as compared to the sham acupuncture group.

The acupuncture group experienced less of the benefits derived from treatment when evaluated seven months post-treatment. However, due to the outstanding results at the end of the trial and at the one month mark, head researcher Dr. David Martin M.D., Ph.D. concluded, "The results of the study convince me there is something more than the placebo effect to acupuncture.

Source: Martin, David P. et al., "Improvement in Fibromyalgia Symptoms With Acupuncture: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial." Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Volume 81 , Issue 6 , 749-757 Retrieved online at


British Columbia Medical Journal Reports a Study That Supports Using Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia Symptom Relief

By: Vanessa Vogel Batt L.Ac., MSTOM

The British Columbia Medical Journal (BCMJ) published a revealing study investigating the effectiveness of using acupuncture plus counseling to treat symptoms of fibromyalgia. The article entitled "Treatment of fibromyalgia with acupuncture and counseling," details the methods and results of the scientific study. The researchers define fibromyalgia according to the definition put forth by the American College of Rheumatology.

Fibromyalgia is a rheumatic condition causing all-over body pain, in the musculoskeletal system, for a minimum duration of at least 3 consecutive months. To aid in diagnosis, there is a map of 18 specific points on the body prone to pain. To qualify for an official diagnosis of fibromyalgia, a patient must experience pain in 11 out of the 18 sites.

Twenty female patients with an average age of 46 underwent twice-weekly acupuncture sessions for 12 weeks. They also received counseling sessions to learn more about nutrition and stress management to cope with their disease. All study participants received the same acupuncture points during their treatments. At the end of the trial, researchers evaluated the progress of each patient.

Seven of the participants showed significant progress in dealing with their symptoms. This group experienced a 50% or higher improvement in their personal evaluations of pain and other symptoms. One patient even reported a 78% improvement. Ten patients declared a moderate improvement, between 21-50%, while only three patients reported minor progress, between 10-12%. Thus researchers concluded the efficacy of using acupuncture combined with counseling for reducing the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Source: Clarke T. Treatment of fibromyalgia with acupuncture and counseling. BCMJ, 2004;46:1 21-23 Retrieved online at