Learning & Resource Center Articles
Get Fibromyalgia Relief with Acupuncture
By: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease primarily known for causing extensive musculoskeletal pain that is debilitating and quality-of-life reducing. The disorder can be likened to arthritis, except that it affects soft tissue as well as the joints.
A patient may experience additional symptoms such as insomnia, depression, headaches, and fatigue.
As there is no official medical test for fibromyalgia, a diagnosis is reliant on the symptoms. The primary symptom is diffuse body pain but often a patient's mood and mental clarity destabilize as well. There may be mood swings, anxiety, brain fog, memory loss and lack of cooperation with other people.
The exact cause remains a mystery but there are several factors known to provoke the disease. Sometimes it can begin after a trauma or accident, surgery, or be concurrent with another disease like rheumatoid arthritis. The vast majority of those afflicted are women.
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine offer pain relief for the body, emotional balance for the heart, and mental clarity for the mind. The beauty of this ancient medicine is that it can assuage symptoms on the physical, emotional, and mental level all at the same time.
A basic tenant of acupuncture and Oriental medicine is that stagnation causes pain. This could mean energy, blood, body fluids, or some sort of combination thereof. A black bruise on the arm is a good example of what blood stagnation literally looks like, and we all know the pain and tenderness associated with bumps and bruises.
However, for fibromyalgia patients, the substances stagnating inside their bodies are not usually visible to the naked eye or through technology for that matter, and can, therefore, be difficult to detect. Sometimes it is even hard for patients to convince doctors that their pain is real and not just a figment of their imagination.
For a practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, this is not a problem. Diagnosis and subsequent treatment are based on the patient's signs and symptoms. A great way to start treatment is to animate the body's energy and blood flow in an effort to relieve the ubiquitous pain.
Moxibustion is a powerful, but gentle therapy that actually feels good. It makes use of the smoke and heat from burning a medicinal herb called mugwort. There are many types of moxa, some of them look like cigars or cigarettes. The burning tip is held near the site of pain or another choice spot to let the smoke ease its way into the body and nudge the sluggish blood and energy along. This brings a soothing, comfortable sensation to tender aching muscles and joints.
There is a very versatile acupuncture point on the body called Zu San Li, translating into English as Three Leg Li. This wondrous little spot is colloquially known in China as 'the point of longevity' due to its many connections to other organs, glands, and systems in the body.
Benefits of Three Leg Li include reducing inflammation in the body, enhancing the immune system, and lifting the spirit. Whether it is an acupuncture needle or an application of moxa, activating this point can soothe physical and mental pain for fibromyalgia patients.
The use of acupuncture needles is discretionary as the principal complaint is pain and using them may not appeal to the patient. If needles are used, an experienced practitioner will know the correct depth and angle of insertion to avoid any discomfort in the patient. Otherwise, Moxa is a wonderful tool in these cases.
Other options for treatments include auricular acupuncture or the use of ear beads. In general, the needles used on ears are smaller and thinner than most. Ear beads are small pellets that adhere to the ear. They do not penetrate the skin and can be stimulated by the patients.
The ear is full of points that engage the spirit and help balance the emotions. Shen Men is one of these points and using it sends soothing signals throughout the nervous system. Whether it is a needle or an ear bead, the effects of Shen Men can profoundly affect the heart and mind. An ear bead at this site allows a patient to activate Shen Men's properties when the need arises. It is recommended to gently press during times of stress.
If you experience symptoms of fibromyalgia and need relief from shaky emotions or a scattered mind, try acupuncture and Oriental medicine for a comprehensive, holistic treatment.
Contact an acupuncturist today to schedule an appointment or to learn more about acupuncture and Oriental medicine.
Source: Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017). Fibromyalgia. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354780
About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.