Acupuncture is an effective treatment modality for the alleviation of fibromyalgia. Researchers at the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department of Ataturk University conclude that acupuncture improves two biochemical markers and clinical outcomes for patients with fibromyalgia. Objective measures show that acupuncture increases serum serotonin levels while simultaneously reducing Substance P levels. For subjectives, the researchers document lasting subjective improvements including less pain, fatigue, and anxiety. [i]
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition with a variety of symptoms including widespread pain, sleep problems, fatigue, and cognitive difficulties. Fibromyalgia is frequently comorbid with depression and anxiety. The exact mechanism of the disease is has not been fully identified within allopathic and hospital medicine, but it is thought that serotonin and Substance P play an important role.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter involved with mood, sleep, sexual behaviour, and pain regulation. Independent research confirms that fibromyalgia patients have lower serum serotonin levels compared with healthy individuals. Substance P is a neuropeptide involved in pain sensitivity, depression, and peripheral neurogenic inflammation. [ii] Excess levels of Substance P may play a role in the pathology of fibromyalgia, especially since Substance P has an active role in pain perception.
The study measures levels of these two biochemical markers along with several clinical parameters, both before and after treatment with acupuncture. A total of 75 female participants were recruited for the study. Exclusion criteria included usage of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, and other antidepressant drugs within the past 15 days. Those who had smoked tobacco, suffered from bleeding diathesis, or had painful conditions other than fibromyalgia were also excluded.
The patients were randomized into three groups; acupuncture, sham acupuncture, and simulated acupuncture. All three groups were similar in terms of mean age and body mass index. The mean duration of disease was 4.44 years, 3.94 years, and 5.09 years respectively. The following acupuncture points were selected for the study: