Fibromyalgia affects as many as 2.8 million people in the UK, according to Arthritis Research UK. Symptoms of the condition include pain across the body, sleep problems and headaches. The NHS says fibromyalgia is a “long-term condition that causes pain all over the body.” Treatment for the condition can involve medication, more exercise and changes to your diet. According to the Mayo Clinic, acupuncture could help relieve pain caused by the condition.
“Acupuncture is a Chinese medical system based on restoring normal balance of life forces by inserting very fine needles through the skin to various depths,” explained the Mayo Clinic on its website.
“According to Western theories of acupuncture, the needles cause changes in blood flow and levels of neurotransmitters in the brain and spinal cord. Some studies indicate that acupuncture helps relieve fibromyalgia symptoms, while others show no benefit.”
It lists acupuncture under “alternative medicine” for fibromyalgia that may work, alongside massage therapy, and yoga and tai chi.
The Chinese therapy is offered alongside wellbeing fairs and yoga as staff try to stem the drugs trade run by the violent Muslim gangs at HMP Full Sutton, near York
Prison guards stressed out by dealing with gangs of Islamic State-inspired lags are getting acupuncture to help them cope.
The Chinese therapy is offered alongside wellbeing fairs and yoga as staff try to stem the drugs trade run by the violent groups at HMP Full Sutton, near York.
The Independent Monitoring Board said: “Staff have had mental health awareness training. The prison has run wellbeing fairs, yoga courses, and acupuncture sessions.
“Staff have also been offered information regarding their psychological wellbeing, mindfulness and resilience.”
Concern over painkiller addiction rates among US military personnel and veterans has led to interest in a technique known as battlefield acupuncture.
Thousands of servicemen and women who survived the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have since become casualties of an opioid abuse epidemic that has claimed an estimated 165,000 lives between 1999 and 2014.
As opioid prescription rates soared between 2004 and 2012, veterans received a disproportionate amount of the drugs for pain management.
One in five former personnel who served after the 9/11 terrorist attacks has been prescribed an opioid, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans are twice as likely to die from an accidental drug overdose as the rest of the population. Now military doctors and physicians are hoping that a cluster of tiny gold-plated needles and a simple treatment programme can help many of their patients live relatively pain-free without risk of addiction.
Battlefield acupuncture (BFA) was developed in 2001 by Richard Niemtzow, a retired US air force medical colonel, as a quick-working alternative to traditional pain relief and is becoming more widespread across the military.
Practitioners place the roughly 2mm long needles in sequence into five points in each ear and leave them in place until they fall out several days later. Unlike traditional acupuncture, which first originated in China about 8,000 years ago and requires years of study, military medics can be trained in BFA in a few hours.
Another benefit is that patients can continue to participate in work and life as they are unimpaired by drowsiness or other side effects.
Military pilots, for instance, can still fly, said Lynda Vu, an air force colonel who recently administered BFA on deployment in Qatar. “This allows personnel to go back to the fight with minimal impact to continuing missions,” she told the Military Times, an independent news organisation covering the US armed forces.
As with other forms of acupuncture the practice is, however, dogged by scepticism among some scientists over its medical benefits.
Harriet Hall, another retired US air force colonel who is also a surgeon and family physician, wrote that battlefield acupuncture techniques and other examples of “pseudoscience in the military” were “wasting money, perpetuating myths, and putting our troops in danger”.
Acupuncture may be an effective way of easing severe period pain, a South Korean review of 27 studies suggests.
Researchers said there was "promising evidence" for acupuncture in treating cramps, but that more work was needed.
In the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, they noted two studies found little difference between real and sham acupuncture in treating pain.
Acupuncture is a less contentious form of complementary medicine than some, but its value is still disputed.
Period pain can be severe in some women and may be accompanied by nausea, diarrhoea, migraine and backache. Common treatments include pain killers, applying heat and exercise - although a recent study questioned the efficacy of the latter.
This latest review involved 27 studies - which included nearly 3,000 women. They addressed a variety of forms of acupuncture - from classical to acupoint injection.
People terrified of visiting the dentist can overcome their fear with acupuncture, researchers have claimed.
The findings, in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine, may offer some comfort to the one in five people thought to have dental phobia.
Five minutes of treatment with needles placed at two specific acupuncture points on the top of the head allowed all 20 patients to conquer their fear.
The experts said bigger trials are now warranted.
These were patients who would have previously run screaming out of the door...
Lead researcher Dr Palle Rosted
Dr Palle Rosted, who led the research carried out by eight UK dentists, said the findings were extremely promising.
"Although it's a small number of patients that we've looked at, all of the patients benefited.
"These were patients who would have previously run screaming out of the door or would had to have been held down by a dental assistant to have their teeth checked."
All of the patients were in their 40s and had been suffering from dental phobia for between two and 30 years.
Many had, unsuccessfully, tried other ways to conquer their fears, including hypnosis and relaxation techniques.
Author Jo Marchant
Large study suggests acupuncture could help women stick with unpleasant cancer treatments.
One of the largest-ever clinical trials into whether acupuncture can relieve pain in cancer patients has reignited a debate over the role of this contested technique in cancer care.
Oncologists who conducted a trial of real and sham acupuncture in 226 women at 11 different cancer centres across the United States say their results — presented on 7 December at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in Texas — conclude that the treatment significantly reduces pain in women receiving hormone therapy for breast cancer. They suggest it could help patients stick to life-saving cancer treatments, potentially improving survival rates. But sceptics say it is almost impossible to conduct completely rigorous double-blinded trials of acupuncture.
Interest in acupuncture has grown because of concerns over the use of opioid-based pain-relief drugs, which can have nasty side effects and are extremely addictive. Many cancer centres in the United States therefore offer complementary therapies for pain relief. Almost 90% of US National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centres suggest that patients try acupuncture, and just over 70% offer it as a treatment for side effects1. That horrifies sceptics such as Steven Novella, a neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine and founder of the blog Science-Based Medicine. Acupuncture has no scientific basis, he says; recommending it is “telling patients that magic works”.
But Dawn Hershman, an oncologist at Columbia University Medical Centre in New York City, decided to investigate whether acupuncture could help to reduce the pain caused by aromatase inhibitors, one of the most commonly used treatments for breast cancer. These drugs lower oestrogen levels and, when taken over five to ten years, they reduce the risk that the cancer will recur. But they cause side effects, especially arthritis-like pain, which can cause up to half of women to take the medication irregularly, or to stop taking it altogether.
Author NICHOLAS BAKALAR
Acupuncture can relieve wrist pain, and researchers have tracked the brain and nervous system changes that may help explain why.
Scientists randomized 80 people with mild or moderate carpal tunnel syndrome — pain caused by nerve compression at the wrist — to one of three groups. The first received acupuncture at the wrist and ankle. The second got acupuncture at the wrist alone. And the third received sham acupuncture, using “fake” needles near the affected wrist, as a placebo. Using functional M.R.I. and nerve conduction tests before and after the procedures, they measured the effect on brain and nerves.
All three groups found relief from pain, but both of the true acupuncture groups showed measurable physiological improvements in pain centers in the brain and nerves, while sham acupuncture did not produce such changes. Improvement in brain measures predicted greater pain relief three months after the tests, a long-term effect that placebo did not provide. The study is in Brain.
“What’s really interesting here is that we’re evaluating acupuncture using objective outcomes,” said the senior author, Vitaly Napadow, a researcher at Harvard. Sham acupuncture was good at relieving pain temporarily, he said, but true acupuncture had objective physiological — and enduring — effects.
“Acupuncture is a safe, low-risk, low side-effect intervention,” he continued. “It’s perfect for a first-line approach, and it’s something patients should consider before trying more invasive procedures like surgery.”
Author Claudia Tanner
The Chinese treatment boosts women's chances of conceiving using IVF by 6% That's according to a leading European fertility clinic's analysis of its data Past research has found it doubles the chances of a woman getting pregnant Said to work by boosting blood flow to the uterus, helping embryo implantation
Acupuncture can boost your chances of getting pregnant, according to new research. The treatment, derived from ancient Chinese medicine, has been found to boost women's chances of conceiving using IVF by six per cent. That's according to a leading European fertility clinic that analysed data from thousands if its clients over three years. Its experts say it works by increasing blood flow to the uterus, which makes it more receptive to the embryo implanting when it is transferred. Acupuncture involves stimulating sensory nerves under the skin and in the muscles of the body. Previous research has found it as much as doubles the chances of a woman conceiving with IVF.
Author Yujing Liu
Chinese and American researchers have found a new drug treatment for asthma by studying acupuncture, potentially opening the door to more applications of the traditional Chinese medicine in modern medical research.
The drug therapy is more effective than existing asthma medication, according to a paper published in the Science Translational Medicine journal on Thursday.
Globally, 300 million people are estimated to suffer from the chronic lung disease that inflames and constricts the airways, causing wheezing, breathlessness, a tight chest and coughing.
Acupuncture was central to the discovery since earlier findings of its effectiveness in treating asthma prompted the study.