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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. This problem is costly in terms of consultations, prescriptions, and sick leave.

In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body’s homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being. Stimulation of certain acupuncture points has been shown to affect areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promote relaxation and deactivate the ‘analytical’ brain, which is responsible for anxiety.

fibromyalgia pain

Acupuncture may help relieve pain in patients with fibromyalgia by:

  • altering the brain’s chemistry, increasing endorphins and neuropeptide Y levels and reducing serotonin levels 

  • evoking short-term increases in mu-opioid receptor's binding potential, in multiple pain and sensory processing regions of the brain.

  • stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to the release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors, and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord.

  • reducing inflammation, by promoting the release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors.

  • improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility by increasing local microcirculation which aids the dispersal of swelling.

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