Around 1 in 25 of the UK population has fibromyalgia, a lifelong condition involving widespread musculoskeletal pain and tenderness, fatigue, sleep disturbance, and functional impairment, without any known structural or inflammatory cause (Annemans 2008; Hauser 2008; De Silva 2010; Burckhardt 1994).
In fibromyalgia, abnormalities in central pain-processing and the release of neurotransmitters including serotonin and noradrenaline lead to lower pain thresholds (Holman 2005; Clauw 2008). Predisposing factors for the condition include female gender, anxiety, trauma and viral infection (Clauw 2009). American College of Rheumatology diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia are widespread pain lasting at least 3 months, affecting both sides of the body, above and below the waist; plus pain at 11 or more of 18 designated possible tender points, when 4kg/cm2 force is exerted at each point Wolfe 1990).
In a recent study researchers have found that acupuncture can reduce pain, improve sleep and generally boosts health for sufferers of fibromyalgia. To read this study of fibromyalgia press here
Acupuncture may help relieve pain in patients with fibromyalgia by:
altering the brain’s chemistry, increasing endorphins (Han 2004) and neuropeptide Y levels (Lee 2009; Cheng 2009), and reducing serotonin levels (Zhou 2008);
evoking short-term increases in mu -opioid receptors binding potential, in multiple pain and sensory processing regions of the brain (Harris 2009);
stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors, and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord (Pomeranz 1987, Zhao 2008);
reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kavoussi 2007, Zijlstra 2003)
improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility by increasing local microcirculation (Komori 2009), which aids dispersal of swelling.