Acupuncture and Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is the second most common rheumatic disorder in the United States behind arthritis, according to the College of Rheumatology.
People diagnosed with fibromyalgia can suffer from a wide range of problems, including pain, fatigue, stiffness, aches, muscle tenderness, along with sleep disorders, intestinal and bowel troubles.
The diagnosis of fibromyalgia is further confirmed when 11 out of 18 specific points on the body are tender to pressure. Interestingly, some of these tender points closely correspond to the location of ancient acupuncture points.
How acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can help.
According to the theories of traditional Chinese medicine an imbalance to the flow of Qi and blood can lead to symptoms and signs that reflect a Western diagnosis of fibromyalgia.
Qi is the energy or the power that animates and supports the functions of the body. It flows through specific pathways, called Meridians, and provides the body with nourishment for every cell, tissue, muscle and organ system.
When Qi is abundant and freely circulating throughout the body, there is health and pain free living. When Qi becomes “blocked,” or the supply is inadequate, pain, stiffness, and other symptoms related to fibromyalgia can appear.
What does an acupuncturist do?
An acupuncturist will take a complete health history in order to find out where Qi has become blocked, and/or why the amount of Qi within the body has changed. They will then develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific symptoms and signs that best reflect the organ and meridian systems that are out of balance. The goal(s) of such a plan will be to eliminate visible symptoms, while addressing the root causes and underlying imbalances.
What is out of balance?
The body constantly strives to regain and maintain a healthy balance of Qi traveling through the meridian and organ systems. When the flow of Qi has been disrupted, or the supply of Qi has changed, the body becomes unbalanced and the meridian and organ systems are not properly nourished- signs and symptoms will then appear.
Most cases of fibromyalgia fit into the Chinese diagnosis of a LIVER, SPLEEN and/or HEART disharmony. This doesn’t mean that the functions of these organs according to the Chinese medical diagnosis are out of balance.
The functions related to the LIVER organ, according to Chinese medicine, are to control the smooth flow of blood, Qi and emotions and to nourish the tendons. When the liver organ becomes blocked there will be an inadequate supply of blood and Qi flowing throughout the body. The tendons and muscles will not be properly nourished, leading to stiffness and pain. Other symptoms of a blocked liver are depression, anger, anxiety and insomnia. A liver imbalance can occur from improper diet, stress, deep unexpressed anger, drugs and alcohol.
The Chinese function of the SPLEEN is to transform the food we ingest into Qi and blood. The health of the SPLEEN is affected by diet, over-concentration, and worry. An unbalanced SPLEEN can result in fatigue, digestive troubles, muscle stiffness, and pain.
When there is an insufficient amount of Qi and blood produced by the spleen, the HEART organ will be affected. The role of the HEART is to pump blood throughout the body, it is also considered to be the home of the Spirit. If the SPLEEN cannot generate enough blood to nourish the HEART, the HEART Qi does not have enough control to properly house the spirit. Symptoms such as anxiety, palpitations, insomnia and emotional unrest.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can provide a safe alternative in the effective treatment of fibromyalgia. Along with the use of acupuncture, natural Chinese herbal formulas, dietary recommendations and calming exercises can also help promote balance and health.
In November 1997, the National Institute of Health (NIH), suggested that acupuncture could be an effective modality in treating fibromyalgia. Not only by treating the pain and discomfort, but also by addressing the underlying problems that have caused the imbalance.