Purpose: Fibromyalgia (FM) can cause chronic widespread pain and seriously affect the quality of patient lives. Acupuncture therapy is widely used for pain management. However, the effect of acupuncture on FM is still uncertain. The aim of this review was to determine the effect and safety of acupuncture therapy on the pain intensity and quality of life in patients with FM.
Materials and methods: We searched PubMed, the Cochrane Library, Embase, the China National Knowledge Infrastructure, the Chinese Science and Technology Periodical Database, and the Chinese Biomedical Literature Database to collect randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of acupuncture for FM published before May 2018. A meta-analysis was performed according to the Cochrane systematic review method by using RevMan 5.3 software, and GRADE was used to evaluate the quality of the evidence.
Results: We identified 12 RCTs that compared acupuncture therapy to sham acupuncture or conventional medication. Meta-analysis showed that acupuncture was significantly better than sham acupuncture for relieving pain (MD =-1.04, 95% CI [-1.70, -0.38], P=0.002, I 2=78%) and improving the quality of life (MD =-13.39, 95% CI [-21.69, -5.10], P=0.002, I 2=82%), with low- to moderate-quality evidence in the short term. At follow-up in the long term, the effect of acupuncture was also superior to that of sham acupuncture. No serious adverse events were found during acupuncture.
Conclusion: Acupuncture therapy is an effective and safe treatment for patients with FM, and this treatment can be recommended for the management of FM.
Keywords: acupuncture; fibromyalgia; meta-analysis; pain; quality of life.