Introduction and objectives People with cystic fibrosis (CF) experience a wide spectrum of symptoms, both physical and psychological, which are often troublesome and can result in significantly impaired quality of life. Acupuncture has a strong evidence base in the treatment of a wide variety of symptoms, however there is currently very limited evidence for its role in the management of symptoms in people with CF. The objective of this pilot study was to provide preliminary evidence of the effectiveness and patient acceptance of this treatment in our large regional adult CF centre.
Methods In this observational prospective study, we offered acupuncture to CF inpatients attending our large regional adult CF centre if they were suffering from range of symptoms. Patients were asked to specify the symptoms being treated and its severity before and after treatment, as well as whether treatment achieved the desired outcome, whether they suffered any ill effects, whether it is a valuable service and whether they feel we should continue to offer acupuncture to patients. They were also offered the option of making free-text comments on their experience of the service.
Results 106 patients were included over a 12-month period. 50 patients were treated for pain (back/neck/shoulder pain, n = 28; unspecified location, n = 12; headache, n = 5, chest pain, n = 4, toe pain, n = 1) with pain significantly reducing after treatment (median severity 7 (IQR 6–8) vs. 4 (IQR 3–5), p < 0.001). 25 patients were treated for stress/anxiety with symptoms significantly reducing after treatment (median severity 8 (IQR 7–9) vs. 5 (IQR 3.6–6), p < 0.001). 10 patients were treated for breathlessness/tight chest with symptoms significantly reducing after treatment (median severity 7 (IQR 6–8) vs. 5 (IQR 4–6), p = 0.001). 21 patients were treated for a range of other symptoms including low energy levels, reduced appetite and constipation. 95 patients reported that treatment had achieved the desired result and 10 patients reported that it was too early to tell. 1 patient felt ‘a bit sick’ after treatment, but no other adverse effects were reported. All patients felt that acupuncture was a valuable service and should continue to be offered. 30 patients commented that the service should be available more frequently.
Conclusions Acupuncture was greatly appreciated by CF adults, with significant improvements in a wide variety of symptoms. A randomised controlled study is required to confirm these benefits.