Around 1 in 25 of the UK population has fibromyalgia, a lifelong condition involving widespread musculoskeletal pain and tenderness, fatigue, sleep disturbance, and functional impairment, without any known structural or inflammatory cause (Annemans 2008; Hauser 2008; De Silva 2010; Burckhardt 1994). This problem is costly in terms of consultations, prescriptions and sick leave (Annemans 2008; Busch 2007; Boonen 2005; Hauser 2010).
Here is an article from the British Acupuncture Council discussing the recent research on the effectiveness of acupuncture for fibromyalgia,
Western-based systematic reviews of acupuncture for fibromyalgia are dependent on rather few, rather small, randomised trials in which the verum treatment has been compared to a sham version of acupuncture. Given that the sham interventions are not inactive placebos, but effectively different versions of acupuncture, it is not surprising that most reviews have not found acupuncture to be superior. The most recent (Langhorst 2010), with more trials included, reported acupuncture to have a significantly better analgesic effect than sham (though it was not superior for other symptoms). Another recent review, with access to the Chinese literature, was able to assess the effectiveness of acupuncture against conventional medication, as well as against sham (Cao 2010). This found it to be better than drugs in terms of pain relief.
Acupuncture may have the greatest benefit when applied together with medication or other therapeutic options (Targino 2008, Jang 2010). Further trials are needed, of larger size and with sounder methodology, and especially those that compare acupuncture to existing conventional interventions.