Acupuncture and Fibromyalgia

Acupuncture is now becoming a popular treatment for fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS).  The Chinese have used acupuncture thousands of years as a remedy to many of their ailments.  It is part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) but only relatively recently became known to the American public in the 1970s.

Studies have been done showing the ability of acupuncture to treat FMS and ME/CFS. Acupuncture is now widely accepted as a safe form of treatment that some hospitals and healthcare providers are now offering it in their facilities.  Even insurance policies now cover acupuncture treatment as part of their medical plan.

Researches have suggested that acupuncture renders complex changes in the brain and body.  It stimulates the brain and spinal cord to release certain hormones that block pain and make one feel relaxed and good.  Studies using MRI scans showed that acupuncture raises ones pain threshold, which is good for people with a low threshold for pain such as FMS and ME/CFS sufferers.  One experiment done in Great Britain using magnetoencephalography (MEG) brain scans showed that acupuncture can shut down part of one’s brain’s pain area.

Acupuncture works by removing blockages in the energy pathways (meridians) of the body. A life-force energy called chi flows through meridians in the body.  If chi gets blocked, it will create health problems.

Research done in 2008 showed that people with FMS had major improvements in pain and quality of life lasting 3 months after treatment was stopped.  Acupuncture is comparatively safer than most therapies, especially drug or pharmaceutical therapy and it is a good complementary program for other therapies.

Upon consultation with an acupuncturist, he/she will do some physical examinations with the patient.  The acupuncturist will check the patient’s pulse at several points on both wrists and check the tongue, studying its shape, color and coating.

The needles usually are inserted about a centimeter deep. After inserting them, the acupuncturist will manipulate them firmly into the proper point. Sometimes the body elicits a muscle twitch or brief ache, which is good and sometimes, might feel nothing at all. After all needles are inserted, the patient will stay in place and rest for 15 minutes to an hour. During the time the needles are inserted, an extremely relaxed feeling will set in on the patient and he/she might even fall asleep.

If after a few hours after the first treatment the patient feels aches around the body, that is a good sign that the treatment is working. These aches are short-lived and can be countered with over-the-counter analgesics.  A great, sound and deep sleep is usually experienced on the first night of the treatment benefiting the patient especially the ones afflicted with FMS and ME/CFS.

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