Research: SPROTT and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 62


SPROTT and colleagues, Rheumaklinik und Institut fur Physikalische Medizin, Universitatsspital Zurich, Switzerland. investigated microcirculatory changes over the tender points in fibromyalgia patients after acupuncture therapy.


Apart from widespread pain, which is the main symptom of fibromyalgia, a great variety of functional and vegetative changes occur with this disease. Such changes include alterations in microcirculation, which may cause pain. A preliminary study demonstrated a reduction in regional blood flow above 'tender points' in fibromyalgia patients compared with healthy controls. The National Institutes of Health states that acupuncture is a sufficient adjuvant method to treat patients with fibromyalgia. The aim was to determine parameters to measure the effectiveness of a specific treatment modality (such as acupuncture) in addition to the patient's subjective assessment of acupuncture treatment.


Twenty patients with fibromyalgia according to the ACR and Muller/Lautenschlager criteria were included in the study. Acupuncture was performed to individual needs in accordance with a specific protocol. Five representative 'tender points' were examined before and after therapy by laser flowmetry, and the data were compared with temperature measurement and dolorimetry.


Increased blood flow was registered above all 'tender points' after acupuncture. Skin temperature had increased in 10/12 'tender points' by a mean of 0.45 degree C. The number of 'tender points' was reduced from 16.1 to 13.8 after therapy. The pain threshold increased in 10/12 'tender points'.


These data suggest that acupuncture is a useful method to treat patients with fibromyalgia . Besides normalization of clinical parameters, the improvement in microcirculation above 'tender points' may alleviate pain .


Sprott et al. Microcirculatory changes over the tender points in fibromyalgia patients after acupuncture therapy (measured with laser-Doppler flowmetry). Weiner Klinische Wochenschrift 112(13): 580-6. Jul 2000.

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