Fibromyalgia is on the rise in America and in El Dorado Hills, I see it regularly. From the western medical perspective, fibromyalgia (or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) can be a difficult disease both to identify and treat. A patient can suffer for months, sometimes years before being diagnosed. It’s difficult to diagnose because it manifests in so many different ways from patient to patient.
A Closer Look at Fibromyalgia
Muscle and joint pain, extreme fatigue (worse with exertion), sore throat, depression, disturbed sleep, low grade fever, and ultimately lowered immune response. There is much controversy surrounding this subject, however, one thing that is agreed upon is it is an immune dysfunction.
Good News: Acupuncture is a particularly effective way to treat fibromyalgia. If you live in or close to El Dorado Hills, I am a great resource.
The disease can start with a virus which gets the best of an already compromised immune system due to toxic overload or can be a result of long term inflammation which has become chronic. About 65-70% of the immune system in in the digestive tract. Altered gut composition (like from anti biotics and NSAIDS, GERD, Chrons, Leaky gut, or Allergies) can begin the process of chronic inflammation and mal absorption. This in turn negatively effects the brain and causes a cascade of altered responses.
Often MD’s say ‘it’s all in their heads,’ however, there is clearly a physical response that needs to be addressed. Historically, fibromyalgia was originally called a mental disorder then recognized as a physical illness. Now the pendulum is swinging back the other way. From the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or whole body approach, it is both mental and physical – and both need to be addressed simultaneously.
Medication Adds Complications
Doctors in El Dorado Hills, as elsewhere, often prescribe medications that do nothing for the pain and further complicate the condition. Most of the time my patients with fibromyalgia have already tried every western treatment with little to no positive benefit and come to Valley Acupuncture as their last resort.
When the body’s natural energy is altered there is, from a TCM perspective, an underlying deficiency of the qi/blood is usually seen in chronic cases and simply reflects a weakened state that results from chronic imbalance.
It is important to note though, that with fibromyalgia, like all western diseases, the underlying TCM patterns that give rise to the symptoms may be very different across individuals. Pain is the result of stagnation (of energy/blood/fluids) and therefore when there is both qi and blood stagnation there is almost certainly going to be pain. The liver qi stagnation often translates symptomatically into stress, depression and anxiety that are exacerbated by chronic pain and discomfort.
Treatment of Fibromyalgia with Acupuncture
Acupuncture is a safe, natural, and most importantly effective method for treating fibromyalgia. In my clinical experience, most patients are able to notice at least a moderate and often more significant reduction of the pain and discomfort within a few treatments. The patients notice their stress is reduced or relieved and their hope returns.
In Chinese medicine the emotions are considered an integral part of the body’s energetic physiology. Emotions can directly influence the physical body, and vice-versa. There is evidence that the empathy of doctors is actually declining. There is however a growing body of western research regarding the relationship between the emotions and various physiological markers which essentially confirms there is direct link between the emotions and the physical body.
In diseases like fibromyalgia there is almost always a very strong emotional aspect of the disease, most often depression but also anxiety, restlessness, irritability and low affect are commonly experienced. Often Western treatments ignore the emotional component of fibromyalgia or prescribe some sort of antidepressants which may create a host of other problems.
Since fibromyalgia often presents with multiple symptoms and doctors tend to focus on only a few. A GI doctor will deal with what he knows, a psychiatrist may prescribed drugs only for the emotional component. Often no doctor is overseeing all the prescriptions which is one of the reasons drug interactions are a leading cause of death in this country.
The hallmark of TCM is that we are able to treat the patient as a whole, in effect addressing all symptoms all at once by identifying the underlying imbalances that generate those symptoms.
Where Do We Start?
I begin with the “Critical Conversation” a complete intake including emotions and ask the difficult questions and compassionate LISTEN. We start with a three month treatment plan, that’s 12 treatments with weekly re-evaluation
- Relieve the stress, guilt and often self-loathing.
- Lessen the pain and lower the inflammation
- Deal with the gut- alter diet if necessary and support healing
- Herbs- adaptogens (either ramp up or lower the body’s own healing power) Ginseng (vitality), schizandra, eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng), or ashwaganda (stress reliever) Rhodiola (for depression)
- Exercise- gradual graded exercise
If you have questions and would like to know more or schedule a time to talk – please be in touch. I am available in the El Dorado Hills area early in the week.
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