I came across a research study this morning looking at the effects of dry needling for fibromyalgia pain relief, and it is going to be a “game changer” for my patients (and hopefully other doctor’s patients) with fibromyalgia. I’ve had two important articles on my list to complete this week, and they both got pushed aside immediately for this one. I am so excited for this!
Now before I get to the details about the benefits of dry needling for fibromyalgia, there are some things we should familiarize ourselves with regarding fibromyalgia (FM). I’m not going to get into the precise details about it, so you may want to do some more research if you want to be a fibromyalgia expert. Here we go:
People with fibromyalgia can have many or all of the following:
Over 5 million Americans suffer from fibromyalgia, and between 80 and 90 percent are women
There is no known cause of fibromyalgia, though there is evidence to suggest that it can be triggered by psychological and/or physical stress
There are no known cures
Fibromyalgia is a relatively complicated thing to treat. Since we don’t know exactly what causes it, it has been impossible to cure. Current medical treatments are aimed at improving symptoms, though there are challenges and side effects with each of these. Lets explore some of the current fibromyalgia treatments (green are benefits, red are detriments):
As you can see from the list above, there are many options, but none of them are particularly stellar. Chiropractic, physical therapy, exercise and sleep might have a great chance at helping FM symptoms, but many patients are reluctant to try due to initial pain and fatigue (or because they are unaware of the benefits). Traditional trigger point work (a therapy which helps relieve pain by pressing on painful spots) for people with FM can be very painful, time consuming, and may have short-lasting results. But what if there was a quick and (nearly) pain-free way to treat the trigger points, which ultimately resulted in a long-term reduction of FM symptoms? Sound too good to be true? Oh, it’s true my friends. You can take this one to the bank.
Dry Needling is a nearly painless therapy that I use in my practice to treat all sorts of things- from headaches to sports injuries. It uses acupuncture needles to elicit a local healing response in the dysfunctional tissues they are placed in. In someone with fibromyalgia, we place the needles in the various tender spots. Over a series of treatments, the tender spots become less and less tender, which decreases the pain associated with fibromyalgia!
They took two groups of people with fibromyalgia. Group A continued with their usual medical treatment (see above chart). Group B received their usual medical treatment AND dry needling 1 time per week for 6 weeks (for a total of 6 treatments). At the end of the 6 week treatment, they found that the group that underwent dry needling had significant improvements:
*All of these tests/assessments have names, but I didn’t include them for the sake of simplicity.
In fact, the people who received dry needling for fibromyalgia still had these exact same improvements 6 weeks after receiving their last treatment! They didn’t test the people after this, but it’s likely that the results could have lasted even longer than 6 weeks.