Skeptical Researchers Say Not Enough Evidence to Support CAM Therapy in Battling FM Pain

Skeptical Researchers Say Not Enough Evidence to Support CAM Therapy in Battling FM Pain

Acupuncture is the only type of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapy that has shown any promise in relieving pain among people with fibromyalgia (FM), and even its benefits are not entirely accepted by the medical community, according to a recent study on the topic.

More studies are warranted to investigate the benefits of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies in improving pain in fibromyalgia (FM), according to results of a recent study showing that of the several CAM therapies available, acupuncture is the only one that has shown promise in decreasing FM pain, although more studies are required.

The report, “An overview of systematic reviews of complementary and alternative therapies for fibromyalgia using both AMSTAR and ROBIS as quality assessment tools,” was published in the journal Systematic Reviews.

“There was low-quality evidence that acupuncture improves pain compared to no treatment or standard treatment, but good evidence that it is no better than sham acupuncture,” the study found. “The evidence for homoeopathy, spinal manipulation and herbal medicine was limited.”

FM patients, the vast majority of whom are women, often turn to CAM therapies when conventional medication cannot relieve their pain. CAM practices include acupuncture, hypnotherapy, homoeopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic, herbal medicine, reflexology and aromatherapy.

“CAM has been defined as diagnosis, treatment and/or prevention which complements mainstream medicine by contributing to a common whole, by satisfying a demand not met by orthodoxy or by diversifying the conceptual frameworks of medicine,” wrote researchers, who hoped to provide an updated analysis of knowledge on these therapies and evaluate the quality of previous studies.

The team identified 15 review studies, including data from randomized controlled trials in which a given CAM therapy was compared to placebo, usual treatment or waitlist controls. In these studies, the primary outcome measure was pain, and the secondary outcome measure was a treatment’s adverse events.

The analysis showed that although promising, still little evidence exists that acupuncture improves pain compared to no treatment or standard treatment. Researchers were also unable to reach a definitive conclusion on the efficacy of other therapies, such as homoeopathy and spinal manipulation. Also, more studies are required to test the benefits of herbal extracts such as Capsicum, nabilone and 0il-24, in improving FM pain.

“Overall, no firm conclusions were drawn for either spinal manipulation or homoeopathy for FM,” researchers wrote. “There is limited evidence for topical Capsicum to alleviate symptoms of FM, but more research is needed.”

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