What is Fibromyalgia?
Quite simply, fibromyalgia syndrome is a disease that is currently unexplainable by modern medicine though it affects over two percent of the United State’s population. Treatment for this syndrome is a complex process because so little is known about it. Doctors will prescribe a variation of medications depending on the symptoms you have (listed below) to attempt to figure out what works. Many look into using alternative medicines rather than test medications with potentially harmful side effects. Acupuncture is the number one alternative method people use because it has been found to be much more effective than any other type of treatment.
Fibromyalgia syndrome causes chronic pain throughout the body, as well as exhaustion, depression, insomnia, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, numbness of fingers, poor blood circulation which can lead to Raynaud’s phenomenon, lack of focus, restless leg syndrome, painful menstrual cycles, migraines, pain in the jaw, stiffness of joints, dry mouth, dry eyes, dry nasal passages, incontinence, and hypersensitivity to sounds or bright lights.
In order for a doctor to diagnose a person with fibromyalgia, they must have a history of chronic pain in all four quadrants of the body for at least three to four months. As of now there are not any tests that can verify that one actually has this syndrome, so a diagnosis is simply a highly educated guess. The symptoms of fibromyalgia typically show after some sort of physical or mental trauma, but no one can be certain that is the main cause. It has been discovered that women have a higher chance of developing this syndrome compared to men.
From the perspective of oriental medicine, any type of pain or disease results when there is an imbalance of Qi, or life energy, somewhere in the body. They have found that disruptions in the spleen, cardiovascular system, liver, and kidney can cause fibromyalgia syndrome to occur.
How Acupuncture Helps
An acupuncture session will not treat fibromyalgia as a whole. Instead it treats it by dividing up the symptoms that the patient has and treating the imbalances related to those symptoms. The diagnosis looks at their emotional state, type of pain, sleeping patterns, general health, age, and the specific symptoms they have. There is no standard acupuncture treatment for fibromyalgia. Each treatment will be unique to each patient.
Lifestyle change is necessary when dealing with the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Implement the following tips for best results:
7 Lifestyle Changes You Can Make to Help Treat Fibromyalgia
1: Drop sugar. Stop drinking beverages filled with sugar, such as soda. Sugar increases inflammation and raises blood sugar which later crashes. Watch out for so called “natural” beverages too that are loaded with sugar. Refined sugar in any form is not your friend.
2: Reduce stress. This is a tough one, as life comes with stress. You can deal with it by taking up meditation (below), any kind of activity or exercise, a daily nap, going to the beach, listening to relaxation tapes, even seeing a therapist or hypnotist. Prolonged stress can significantly damage the body and mind. It could be that a radical change may be necessary such as changing jobs or the like. Finding a way to manage stress is essential.
3: Meditate. This is a form of stress reduction. The practice of meditation is a proven stress reducer that helps the body create a sense of calm and a continuing sense of well being. While 15 minutes is recommended, even 5 or 10 minutes can have a powerful effect on your day.
4: Eat clean. Stop eating processed and refined foods like white bread and pasta. They raise blood sugar which increases inflammation. Inflammation causes discomfort and pain. Slow burning carbohydrates like oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, beans and potatoes do not.
5: Start exercising! While even basic movements may be painful exercise helps restore strength and endurance. Tai Chi, Qi Gong or Yoga are great for easy stretches, careful strengthening, deep breathing, along with relaxation techniques. The gentle stretching will clear tension that builds when muscles tighten and tense and improve overall circulation. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
6: Protein power. Consume foods that contain protein like lean meats and fish. Also eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and complex carbohydrates.
7: Sleep. The body requires 8 hours of restorative sleep per day for optimum health. Lack of sleep increases inflammation, cortisol, lack of energy and more. Maintain a routine sleep schedule and make your bedroom a sanctuary from every day stress. Practicing good sleep habits will give your body an opportunity to get stronger and heal.
8: Blood flow. Look into performing a Chinese self-massage every morning. This will stimulate your acupuncture points, which improves the flow of one’s Qi. Doing so will help your body defend against any oddities, as well as fibromyalgia.
A Mayo Clinic Study on How Acupuncture Affects Fibromyalgia
The Mayo Clinic recently performed a study on if acupuncture actually does help treat fibromyalgia. They did find that acupuncture is indeed a reliable treatment for the syndrome and the symptoms that develop because of it. The patients who were diagnosed with fibromyalgia reported that acupuncture treatments helped them overcome their fatigue, depression, anxiety, as well as many other symptoms they had.
The study required two groups of people with the first group consisted of twenty-five people who were to receive acupuncture, while the second group contained twenty-five people who received mock acupuncture treatments. The group that received the real treatments reported a significant improvement in their health after one month.
Dr. David Martin, the lead doctor of this study, reported that this study had proven acupuncture to be a helpful treatment as well as proved that studies on acupuncture can be efficiently performed. There has been an increase in the amount of scientific studies on the efficacy of acupuncture. It was also reported that the study only used those who had severe conditions, which made the entire process more controlled. Dr. Martin suggests that more doctors should perform more studies on how acupuncture affects those with fibromyalgia.