Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia – A Natural Alternative Treatment

What is Fibromyalgia?

fibromyalgiaQuite simply, fibromyalgia syndrome is a disease that is currently unexplainable by modern medicine though it affects over two percent of the population of the United States. 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 Symptoms

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.

Fibromyalgia Diagnosis

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 Treat Fibromyalgia

Acupuncture for Chronic Pain ReliefAn 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 That Help 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.

Mayo Clinic Study – 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.

 

Acupuncture and Headaches

Studies Show that Acupuncture Stops Headaches

acupuncture for migraineCochrane Researchers conducted two different studies to show that acupuncture is indeed an effective treatment for the prevention and mitigation of migraines and headaches.

The goal of both studies was to discover if acupuncture is able to reduce how often headaches occur in a person. The first study was more focused on mild, yet frequent headaches while the second studied more chronic, yet less frequent headaches, or migraines. Both trials together involved over six thousand patients in total.

The studies lasted around eight weeks. The first showed that those who received acupuncture had fewer headaches than those who took standard pain medications. The second reported the same results.

acupunctureIn one case that involved about three hundred patients, acupuncture was shown to reduce headaches by as much as two hundred percent. These results initiated a similar test to be conducted for those who suffered chronic tension headaches. In this test the people involved were split up into three different groups over an eight week period. One group received no treatment, the second received minimal acupuncture (which is when needles don’t fully activate the point targeted), and the third received normal acupuncture. The group that received no treatment suffered one and a half fewer days of headaches, the minimal acupuncture group had around six and a half days of no headaches, and the full acupuncture group had a whole week of no headaches.

Headaches Treated with Acupuncture

These results show a strong correlation between acupuncture treatment and reduction in headaches.  In addition to acupuncture, there are some lifestyle changes that can be made to help reduce and treat headaches:

Lifestyle Change #1: Stress Management
meditiationStress is the number one cause of tension headaches.  Meditation is an excellent way to reduce stress.

Lifestyle Change #2: Sleep
sleepSleep is more important than you think. Most people need at least eight hours of sleep per night in order to maintain optimal mental and physical function.

Lifestyle Change #3: Eat Healthy
fertility dietSmall, regular, healthy meals are best for maintaining energy and managing blood sugar.  If you aren’t eating properly, then blood sugar can fall quickly which will result in a headache. Foods that can induce headaches include red meats, salty refined foods, and alcohol.

Lifestyle Change #4: Keep a Headache Journal
Keeping a headache journal will help your healthcare provider figure out the triggers of your headache as well as how to prevent them from happening.  When you have a headache record how much sleep and water you’ve had in the last 24 hours, meals, supplements, exercise, etc.

Lifestyle Change #5: Exercise
running woman outsideExercise is actually necessary for the healthy functional body.  It is not optional.  If you want to feel good, exercise.  If you don’t want to exercise, be prepared not to feel good.  Exercise optimizes all of your body’s functions, specifically blood flow which figures greatly in the realm of headaches.

Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia

Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia Syndrome

fibromyalgia6 million people in the United States are affected with a condition known as fibromyalgia syndrome. Most people afflicted have disappointing results with western medical treatment.  Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine are growing in popularity for sufferers of fibromyalgia is acupuncture.

So what exactly is this syndrome? Fibromyalgia is actually medically unexplainable. This syndrome is known for causing chronic pain throughout the body, insomnia, depression, and fatigue with most of these symptoms occurring all together at once. In order to diagnose such a disease, the symptoms of pain must be within all four quadrants of the body for at least three months. Fibromyalgia does not cause physical damage to the body and there is no way to confirm that one actually has this syndrome. It is quite often that the symptoms of fibromyalgia occur after an emotional or physical traumatic event, but this might simply be a pattern that is noticed more than others since there are no known absolute triggers.

fibromyalgia painOriental medicine dictates that when the body feels pain, there is a disruption of Qi at a certain point of your body. (Qi = life energy) So when the life energy of the kidney, heart, spleen, and liver become unbalanced, conditions such as fibromyalgia can occur.

Acupuncture balances the flow of Qi in the body and mind and thereby treats most forms of pain and inflammation effectively.

5 tips to reduce your Fibromyalgia symptoms naturally:

Tip #1: Clean up your Diet
A proper diet is extremely important for staying healthy, especially for those who have fibromyalgia as those with it have found that eating right reduces the symptoms from occurring.  Eliminate refined carbohydrates and sugar.

Tip #2: Get Quality Sleep
It is important to get at least eight hours of sleep per night in order to reduce stress and strengthen the immune system of the body which will helps fight  illnesses.

Tip #3: Start Meditating
Meditation is proven to be the best way to relieve stress and prevent it from building up. Meditation will help a person stay level-headed while increasing their focus overall.

Tip #4: Exercise Exercise Exercise!standing hamstring stretch
Yoga, Qi Gong, and Tai Chi are three examples of exercises that can help one replenish their strength against fibromyalgia. Although it can be painful, exercise will relieve the muscles and enhance circulation of the blood and life energy. Be sure to focus on stretching and deep breathing the most.

Tip #5: Reduce Stress
Stress can develop into all sorts of problems such as depression, exhaustion, fatigue, a weak defense system, and even physical pain. Both mental and physical stress can increase the stress hormone cortisol which can severely affect the flow of blood and Qi in the system. Although it may not always be possible to rid yourself of the cause of your stress, you can manage it. It would be wise to look into stress reduction classes, meditation courses, eating the right diet, and exercising in order to efficiently manage your stress.

If you have fibromyalgia or any of the symptoms associated with it contact me today to set up an acupuncture appointment to get your body feeling better.