What is Fibromyalgia?
Before delving into the role of acupuncture in relieving the symptoms of fibromyalgia, let’s talk about the symptoms of this disorder. Fibromyalgia affects an estimated 2% of the global population, most of whom are women. Patients often experience the following symptoms:
- Widespread chronic pain and hypersensitivity.
NB: A patient must experience pain in 11 of the 18 body points for a minimum of 3 months to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
- Insomnia and restlessness.
- Memory loss and an inability to concentrate (fibro fog).
- Fatigue, numbness, and tingling.
- Depression and Anxiety.
- Irritable bowel and digestive complications.
Factors that increase the risk of fibromyalgia include rheumatic disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, emotional/physical trauma, and a family history of fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, there is no definitive medical cure for the condition. This drives over 90% of fibromyalgia patients into exploring alternative treatments to alleviate their suffering. One such treatment is acupuncture, which improves the ability to function, enhances well-being, and may relieve pain and suffering.
The Role of Acupuncture
Acupuncture it is an age-old Chinese healing therapy, where needles are inserted in specific body points to unblock Qi channels and improve energy flow. Are you wondering how traditional Chinese treatment relates to fibromyalgia? Well, pain is seen as consequence of the disruption of Qi due to dissonances in major body organs such as the heart, kidney, spleen, and liver. If Qi is flowing freely there will be no pain, but if it is blocked or not free-flowing, pain will be present.
In treating fibromyalgia, acupuncture works by calming the brain, stimulating the release of endorphins (the body’s own painkiller), reducing inflammation, and thereby improving quality of life. Moreover, acupuncture employs an holistic approach that addresses the unique characteristics of every patient. Specific details on the role of acupuncture can be obtained from Centre of Balance Hamilton. You can also obtain expert and personalised tips on how to employ self-acupressure to relieve the symptoms. Common acupressure areas include:
- Stomach 36– A finger’s width from the shin bone below the outer eye of the knee.
- Pericardium 6– Side of the arm after the wrist and between the two tendons.
- Ren 17– Centre of the chest between the nipples.
- Ear Shen Men– The Triangular fossa on the upper portion of the ear.
- Yintang– Between the eyes.
Is Acupuncture a Proven Treatment?
It is not uncommon for patients to question the credibility of acupuncture as a medical intervention, and it’s understandable since we are talking about our health. To quench your curiosity and any lingering doubts, a study published in the reliable British Columbia Medical Journal (BCMJ) investigated the effectiveness of acupuncture in relieving fibromyalgia symptoms.
20 fibromyalgia patients in their 40s were treated with acupuncture for 12 weeks. They also underwent counselling sessions to complement the treatment. After the trial, the group recorded over 50% improvement in their condition. One patient even experienced a 70% alleviation of some of her unpleasant symptoms while 10 patients declared a moderate improvement of between 21% and 50%. Only 3 of the 20 patients reported minor progress of approximately 11%. The outcome of this study points to the applicability and efficiency of acupuncture as a valuable treatment to explore in the treatment of fibromyalgia.
Lifestyle Practices to Complement Acupuncture Treatment
To improve the overall quality of life and alleviate the symptoms of fibromyalgia, Centre of Balance recommends a few lifestyle techniques to enhance the efficiency of acupuncture and generally improve your quality of life. These include:
- Ample and restorative sleep, which includes proper sleep hygiene and around 8 hours of sleep.
- A few minutes of meditation every day to calm the body
- Exercise or gentle stretching to improve circulation, relax the mind, and strengthen the body.
- A balanced and healthy diet to improve the immune system, cognition, reduce swelling, and help with nerve sensitivities.
For more information on acupuncture treatment, please contact us or visit our Clinic at 27F Whatawhata Rd, Dinsdale, Hamilton, New Zealand.
Clarke, T. (2004). Treatment of fibromyalgia with acupuncture and counseling. British Columbia Medical Journal, 46(1), 21-23.