What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose as there is no standard medical test and the some of the symptoms are common to other conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome or ME. In many sufferers, there are no obvious outward signs of the condition which can lead to frustration and despair.
The causes of Fibromyalgia are not well understood. In some people it appears to develop spontaneously, in others it may be triggered by a physical injury, an infection, an emotionally stressful event or an underlying condition such as arthritis or depression. It is believed that both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the development of the condition, so you have a greater risk of developing fibromyalgia if one of your parents or siblings suffers too.
It is believed that abnormalities in pain-processing and release of neurotransmitters (including serotonin and noradrenalin) in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) lead to fibromyalgia sufferers having lower pain thresholds.
Conventional treatments for fibromyalgia include medication, such as antidepressants and pain killers, talking therapy and life style changes, such as exercise to reduce pain.
What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)?
Also known as ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis), CFS is a condition in which the patient experiences persistent and severe fatigue that affects everyday life and is not relieved by sleep or rest. Symptoms may also include: musculoskeletal pain, headache, sleep issues, anxiety and depression.
The causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are also poorly understood. Suspected causes include certain viral infections, hormonal and immunological imbalances, nervous system dysfunction, stress or emotional trauma.
Like fibromyalgia, CFS may also run in families
Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Acupuncture may help relieve pain of fibromyalgia and symptoms of chronic fatigue by:
- Altering the brain’s chemistry, releasing endorphins (your body’s natural pain killers)
- Changing how the body processes pain
- Reducing inflammation and swelling
- Improving muscle stiffness and joint movement by increasing local blood circulation
- Increasing melatonin secretion and aiding sleep
Acupuncture has also been shown to be helpful in treating headaches, concentration problems, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, circulation problems and other symptoms associated with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.
From a Chinese Medicine viewpoint the diagnostic signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia are often similar to those for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (or ME) and, whether or not the condition is post-viral, the imbalances underlying the signs and symptoms can be diagnosed and treated according to the principles of Chinese medicine.
Many fibromyalgia clients find that massage, particularly of the shoulders, helps relieve fibromyalgic pain.
Treating Chronic Fatigue, CFS , ME & Fibromyalgia
Patients I have treated with acupuncture and massage for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue have reported a reduction in pain, muscle stiffness and stress, improvement in their concentration and energy levels and improvement in other associated symptoms. If you have any questions about how acupuncture can help you, please do not hesitate to call me to discuss your situation.”