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Acupuncture for fibromyalgia in primary care: a randomised controlled trial
  1. Jorge Vas1,2,
  2. Koldo Santos-Rey1,
  3. Reyes Navarro-Pablo3,
  4. Manuela Modesto1,
  5. Inmaculada Aguilar1,
  6. M Ángeles Campos4,
  7. José Francisco Aguilar-Velasco5,
  8. Milagrosa Romero4,
  9. Patricia Párraga5,
  10. Vanesa Hervás3,
  11. Olalla Santamaría3,
  12. Carmen Márquez-Zurita1,
  13. Francisco Rivas-Ruiz2,6
  1. 1Pain Treatment Unit, Doña Mercedes Primary Health Centre, Dos Hermanas, Spain
  2. 2Red de Investigación en Servicios de Salud en Enfermedades Crónicas (REDISSEC), Andalucía, Spain
  3. 3Mental Health Services, Virgen de Valme University Hospital, Sevilla, Spain
  4. 4Primary Health Centre Las Cabezas de San Juan, Las Cabezas de San Juan, Spain
  5. 5San Francisco Primary Health Centre, Moron, Spain
  6. 6Research Unit, Agencia Sanitaria Costa del Sol, Marbella, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jorge Vas, Pain Treatment Unit, Doña Mercedes Primary Health Centre, Dos Hermanas, Sevilla 41700, Spain; jorgef.vas.sspa{at}


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.


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