Objective: Acupuncture is often used and frequently advocated for the symptomatic treatment of fibromyalgia. A systematic review has previously demonstrated encouraging findings. As it is now outdated, we wanted to update it.
Methods: We searched seven electronic databases for relevant randomized clinical trials (RCTs). The data were extracted and validated independently by both authors. As no meta-analysis seemed possible, the results were evaluated in narrative form.
Results: Five RCTs met our inclusion criteria, all of which used acupuncture as an adjunct to conventional treatments. Their methodological quality was mixed and frequently low. Three RCTs suggested positive but mostly short-lived effects and two yielded negative results. There was no significant difference between the quality of the negative and the positive RCTs. All positive RCTs used electro-acupunture.
Conclusion: The notion that acupuncture is an effective symptomatic treatment for fibromyaligia is not supported by the results from rigorous clinical trials. On the basis of this evidence, acupuncture cannot be recommended for fibromyalgia.