Acupuncture for fibromyalgia in primary care: a randomised controlled trial

Acupunct Med. 2016 Aug;34(4):257-66. doi: 10.1136/acupmed-2015-010950. Epub 2016 Feb 15.


Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy of an individualised acupuncture protocol for patients with fibromyalgia.

Methods: Randomised controlled multicentre trial, blinded to participants and to data analysts. Conducted in three primary care centres in southern Spain. A total of 164 participants aged over 17 years and diagnosed with fibromyalgia were enrolled in this trial; 153 participants completed the study. Participants were randomly assigned to either the real intervention (individualised acupuncture, IA) or the sham intervention (sham acupuncture, SA). In both the IA and SA groups, one session per week (lasting 20 min) was provided, in addition to usual pharmacological treatment. The primary outcome was change in pain intensity at 10 weeks.

Results: Intention-to-treat analysis revealed that the decrease in pain intensity at 10 weeks was greater (p=0.001) in the IA group (-41.0%, 95% CI -47.2% to -34.8%) than in the SA group (-27.1%, 95% CI -33.2% to -20.9%). During the follow-up period, significant differences (p<0.01) in favour of the IA group persisted at 12 months (IA: -19.9%, 95% CI -24.6% to -15.1%; vs SA: -6.2%, 95% CI -11.2% to -1.2%).

Conclusions: Individualised acupuncture treatment in primary care in patients with fibromyalgia proved efficacious in terms of pain relief, compared with placebo treatment. The effect persisted at 1 year, and its side effects were mild and infrequent. Therefore, the use of individualised acupuncture in patients with fibromyalgia is recommended.

Trial registration number: ISRCTN60217348.


Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Management / methods
  • Primary Health Care
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome