Acupuncture helped relieve symptoms such as pain and depression in women with the chronic pain disorder FIBROMYALGIA, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology.

“Patients not getting enough results from drug therapy should try honest acupuncture,” said lead author Dr. Daniel Feldman, head of rheumatology at the Federal University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. “It really works.”

Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes muscle pain, stiffness and fatigue for unknown reasons. It affects about 2% of Americans, mainly women.

In the study, the researchers randomly assigned 60 women who suffered from fibromyalgia into three groups. All patients received amitriptyline, a standard pain modifier used for fibromyalgia, at bedtime for 16 weeks.

In addition, 20 of the women received a once-a-week, 30-minute acupuncture session while a second group of 20 underwent a once-a-week, 30-minute sham-acupuncture session where they were punctured in areas not believed to have any effect on pain.

The patients were evaluated every month for pain, depression and quality of life measures by healthcare workers who were unaware which treatment they were receiving.

The researchers reported that patients who received the real acupuncture were the only ones who showed statistically significant improvement on measures of pain, depression and mental health after the first month. “The intriguing thing is this is not a placebo effect.” Feldman said.

The results lasted for up to 16 weeks, at which time the patients began regressing slightly and would need reinforcement acupuncture sessions, Feldman said. “It’s not a one-time treatment,” he added.