Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia Relief
Fibromyalgia can be one of the most frustrating and painful conditions out there, and sufferers are bound to have a rough ride (although we hope to change that).
Fibromyalgia is Complicated
What makes fibromyalgia so complicated is the fact it involves several symptoms. Depression, anxiety, insomnia, irregular bowel movements and excessive fatigue are the most common symptoms that afflict fibromyalgia patients. Additionally, these symptoms are often manifested differently among individual patients, or they also frequently overlap other conditions that may further confuse an accurate diagnosis of fibromyalgia.
Western medicine requires 11 of 18 tender pressure points to register positive as its criteria for a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, many sufferers of this hard to pin point condition do not easily fit the necessary diagnostic profile. Some patients, in fact, find themselves consulting a number of various specialists while taking test after test, frequently over the course of up to five years, in the hope of finding answers as to why they feel so bad. Often during this time no symptoms are addressed, because no diagnosis is made and, sadly, patients continue to suffer.
Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia Pain isn’t Complicated
The use of acupuncture to treat Fibromyalgia points isn’t complicated. In fact, Chinese medicine doesn’t even have a word for fibromyalgia, because it doesn’t specifically try to address fibromyalgia or even attempt to find its elusive root cause. Instead, Chinese medicine focuses on treating fibromyalgia’s symptoms to make sufferers feel better. Patients can receive acupuncture for fibromyalgia pain whether it has been formally diagnosed or it is suspected.
If you suffer from any of fibromyalgia’s symptoms your licensed Chicago acupuncturist may use what is called a tongue and pulse diagnosis to assess any potential blockages, deficiencies, and excesses that could be affecting you. The acupuncturist will then attempt to rebalance your Qi and elemental constitution. This will help alleviate many of your symptoms and help you feel better.
In Western Medicine:
Fibromyalgia’s underlying causes are still under investigation. Western medicine researchers have studied the subject extensively to better understand what triggers this painful condition and to develop a reliable test for its diagnosis. Most believe neurotransmitter dispensation, immune system malfunction, sleep disturbance, or hormone imbalance brought on by viral or bacterial infection, trauma, or as yet unknown autoimmune processes may be to blame for fibromyalgia manifestation.
Benefits of Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia
Chinese medicine doesn’t concern itself with the causes of fibromyalgia. Acupuncture (including auricular acupuncture / ear acupuncture), which has been shown by many research studies to be effective at balancing neurotransmitters, as well as improving the immune system, sleep patterns and hormone function, can positively affect many of the contributing factors thought to be responsible for causing fibromyalgia pain. It may therefore provide a viable comprehensive treatment option for correcting patient disabilities and bettering the activities of their daily lives.
Does Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia Work?
In Western Medicine:
Currently Western medicine has no definitive treatment available for the symptoms of fibromyalgia. There is currently no Fibromyalgia medication or Fibromyalgia test. Sleep medication, pain relievers and anti-depressants are usually prescribed, but often their effectiveness decreases over time as the body gets used to them. Light exercise, if tolerated, and lifestyle modifications, such as implementing a bedtime routine are also generally advised.
Traditional Chinese Medicine:
Acupuncture for fibromyalgia is a natural treatment choice. In traditional Chinese medicine the sufferer of fibromyalgia pain may expect the professional acupuncturist to focus immediate attention on Painful Obstruction Syndrome (Bi Syndrome / or Qi Blockage). During this phase of treatment, painful points are located and treated, while efforts are made to also expel wind, damp, and cold. Making the patient feel more comfortable as quickly as possible aids the process of healing and repair. Treatment is conducted according to each patient’s personal measure of feedback and tolerance. As results are gained, treatment focus is adjusted. Initially 1-2 sessions a week may be necessary to get pain under control. Many patients opt for one private session and one community acupuncture session to accomplish this goal.
Once pain is being actively managed other contributing factors such as spleen and heart deficiency (which exhibit classic fibromyalgia symptoms of fatigue, anxiety and depression) may be targeted for correction. It is the spleen that turns food into blood and energy. (When blood qi is obstructed or deficient it can’t get to muscles, which results in muscle pain. Liver qi moves the qi and blood to prevent stagnation, which can be a contributing factor to depression, pain or gastro-intestinal problems). The heart, which is the house of the spirit and regulates emotion, works to fuel the spleen. Employing Moxa and Tui Na, two approaches used either alone or in conjunction with acupuncture needles, your acupuncturist can address such imbalances to further alleviate your symptoms.
As your body begins to come into balance symptoms such as muscle pain and stiffness, lack of energy, loss of concentration, memory and sleep, abdominal pain, IBS, fatigue, headaches, anxiety and depression start to lessen and you begin to feel better. Results depend upon the severity of symptoms, but patients report improvement in many of their symptoms after 10 treatments.
As pain subsides and sleep improves, more treatment options can be introduced. For instance, many patients find great relief using herbal medicines whose formulas are customized according to each patient’s specific needs. At first, most formulations are aimed at stopping pain and improving sleep. As the patient improves and the emphasis of treatment changes, their formula also may change. Other options may also call for diet changes to include foods which promote warmth and Qi flow.
The June edition of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings indicates that acupuncture can relieve fatigue as well as anxiety in fibromyalgia patients for up to seven months after the treatment.
According to Dr. Brent Bauer, M.D., who is a consultant to The Department of Internal Medicine’s Complimentary and Integrative Medicine Program at Mayo Clinic: “Acupuncture appears to modestly reduce many types of chronic pain … while the studies on the effectiveness of acupuncture for fibromyalgia symptoms are somewhat mixed, most suggest that it may have a beneficial role.”
Although the exact mechanisms of how acupuncture benefits fibromyalgia patients may not be fully understood; The World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health released a 2003 report – “Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials” in which they conclude there is enough scientific evidence to endorse acupuncture for fibromyalgia patients.
Additional Complimentary Therapies Available at Ravenswood Chiropractic in Andersonville
Massage Therapy for Fibromyalgia
Our massage therapists are experts in treating fibromyalgia patients. Using specific techniques and just enough pressure, they are able to relax your muscles and alleviate pain according to your personal tolerances. Ask our acupuncturist about incorporating massage into your treatment plan. Acupuncturally speaking this helps remove obstructions and maintain proper flow of Qi.
Physical Therapy for Fibromyalgia
Our physical therapy team provides gentle stretches and exercises to help improve and maintain strength and flexibility to help you feel your best. Many medical doctors recommend a gentle program such as ours because research has consistently demonstrated its effectiveness at achieving an overall sense of well-being. Acupuncturally speaking this also helps to remove obstructions and maintain proper flow of Qi.
Our expert team members are here to help you. Call us at 773.878.7330 to schedule a consultation.