Millions of Americans suffer from fibromyalgia. It can be difficult to cope with the pain and other symptoms, but many are discovering that acupuncture offers a natural solution.
What is Fibromyalgia and How Common is It?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes widespread pain, fatigue, and other symptoms. It’s not yet fully understood, but it’s estimated that about 2 percent of the population has it— roughly 5 million people.
Fibromyalgia is a condition in which nerves are sensitive to stimuli that wouldn’t typically be painful, such as light touch or pressure. This makes it hard for people with fibromyalgia to tolerate even gentle pressure on their muscles without experiencing intense pain.
People with fibromyalgia often feel tired and achy all over, and they may have trouble sleeping through the night. They may also experience headaches, depression, anxiety, and digestive problems.
Fibromyalgia affects women more than men. It typically starts between ages 20 and 40. It’s possible for children to have fibromyalgia, but it’s rare (about 1 percent of kids who have fibromyalgia also have juvenile arthritis). Fibromyalgia is also less common among Asian populations than in European and Caucasian populations.
What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that causes widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue. Some fibromyalgia patients also have cognitive difficulties, sleep disturbances, and gastrointestinal problems.
The symptoms of fibromyalgia can vary significantly among patients. The most common symptoms are:
- Pain in multiple areas of the body, including the neck, shoulders, back, hips, and other joints.
- Fatigue that interferes with daily activities. Patients with fibromyalgia often report feeling more tired than before the disorder developed.
- Difficulty sleeping or restless sleep. Fibromyalgia patients commonly experience poor quality sleep or difficulty falling asleep. They may wake up frequently throughout the night and feel tired during the day despite getting a full night’s sleep. In some cases, fibromyalgia patients also experience non-restorative sleep, which means they don’t feel refreshed when they wake up in the morning.
Other symptoms include:
- Cognitive difficulties include memory problems, difficulty concentrating or processing information, and problems with word-finding or multi-tasking.
- Gastrointestinal pain, nausea, or constipation associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other digestive disorders.
A Brief History of Acupuncture
Acupuncture is the practice of stimulating specific points in the body by inserting needles, applying heat, or using pressure.
Acupuncture originated in China and has been practiced for more than 3,000 years. Practitioners believe acupuncture works by stimulating nerves and muscles to release endorphins—the body’s natural painkillers.
Today, acupuncture treats many ailments, including chronic pain from arthritis and back injuries, fibromyalgia, nausea from cancer chemotherapy, rheumatoid arthritis, postoperative nausea and vomiting, asthma, and post-stroke rehabilitation.
What Are the Benefits of Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia?
The exact mechanism isn’t known for sure, but there are several theories about how acupuncture works to relieve fibromyalgia symptoms:
Acupuncture may release endorphins, which promote relaxation and improve mood to help counter some of the fatigue and irritability associated with fibromyalgia.
Acupuncture may stimulate nerve endings in the skin. This stimulation can then travel through the central nervous system and release neurotransmitters, natural chemicals that affect mood and pain perception.
Acupuncture may boost immune function. Some research suggests that acupuncture stimulates specific immune cells called T-cells, which can help fight off infections caused by viruses or bacteria. There’s also some evidence that acupuncture can reduce inflammation in general, which is thought to play a role in fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia patients can benefit from acupuncture because it increases blood and oxygen flow to the organs, stimulating the body’s healing abilities. It also eases muscle spasms and joint stiffness, common in people living with fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia symptoms are often eased after a single treatment, and many people experience long-term relief with multiple sessions. Acupuncture has been shown to treat pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia effectively.
According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, acupuncture may provide benefits superior to other remedies because it targets pain at its source rather than simply managing symptoms.
What Can You Expect From a Visit to an Acupuncturist?
When you go to an acupuncturist, here’s what you can expect:
Yes, needles will be used, but they’re very thin needles. They’re typically placed in the extremities and cause only mild surface soreness and possibly bruising. Many patients experience no pain at all.
Treatments are typically about 15-30 minutes long. Afterward, patients may feel energized, relaxed, or need to rest a bit. The patient’s reaction to treatment is as unique as the person receiving it.
The first visit usually takes longer because you’ll need to complete the paperwork. The practitioner also will want to review your medical history and discuss any current symptoms or concerns you may have had that prompted you to seek acupuncture treatment.
The number of treatments varies based on your condition and how quickly you respond to treatment. You may see results after just one visit, or it could take several weeks. You’ll get a sense of how well therapy is working for you by observing the changes occurring in your body and mind over time.
Thumos Health Center Provides Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia
If fibromyalgia pain is disrupting your life, acupuncture may help. Used for centuries in Eastern medicine and quickly gaining acceptance in Western medicine, acupuncture may help manage fibromyalgia pain.
Thumos Health Center utilizes acupuncture and other Eastern medicinal treatments to provide holistic, natural healing for various health conditions, including fibromyalgia.
Call (323) 372-5150 or contact us today to schedule a consultation. We look forward to helping you relieve your pain through the benefits of acupuncture and holistic medicine.