Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that compared acupuncture or electroacupuncture with sham acupuncture in patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia were eligible for inclusion. Ongoing trials and studies of healthy volunteers were excluded.
The primary outcome examined was pain intensity measured on a visual analogue scale (VAS).
The included trials were all conducted on adult ambulatory populations. The definition of fibromylagia in all the RCTs was that used by the American College of Rheumatology. Acupuncture interventions lasted from two to 13 weeks. Acupuncture techniques used included electroacupuncture, the use of stainless steel needles (from four to 20 needles per treatment), and manual stimulation in traditional needle locations. Sham acupuncture techniques included non-penetrating stimulating acupuncture at acupuncture points, acupuncture with insertion at non-acupuncture points, or acupuncture at points not recommended for the treatment of fibromyalgia. The patients also received a range of other concurrent treatments including physiotherapy, medication, applications of heat and cold treatments, and electrotherapy.
The authors did not state how studies were selected for the review.