Randomized, Controlled Trial of Acupuncture for Fatigue in Parkinson's Disease


  • Funding agencies: This work was supported by grant no. 5264 from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research and the BA/BS-MD Program at the University of Colorado Denver.

  • Relevant conflicts of interest/financial disclosures: Nothing to report.

  • Full financial disclosures and author roles may be found in the online version of this article.



Fatigue is a common and debilitating nonmotor symptom of PD. Because preliminary evidence suggests that acupuncture improves fatigue in other conditions, we sought to test its efficacy in PD.


Ninety-four PD patients with moderate-to-high fatigue were randomized to receive 6 weeks of biweekly real or sham acupuncture. The primary outcome was change on the Modified Fatigue Impact Scale at 6 weeks. Secondary outcomes included sleep, mood, quality of life, and maintenance of benefits at 12 weeks.


Both groups showed significant improvements in fatigue at 6 and 12 weeks, but with no significant between-group differences. Improvements from baseline in mood, sleep, and quality of life were noted without between-group differences. Overall, 63% of patients reported noticeable improvements in their fatigue. No serious adverse events were observed.


Acupuncture may improve PD-related fatigue, but real acupuncture offers no greater benefit than sham treatments. PD-related fatigue should be added to the growing list of conditions that acupuncture helps primarily through nonspecific or placebo effects. © 2016 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society