Fibromyalgia afflicts a broad range of people in the United States. It is second only to arthritis as the most frequent condition that a rheumatologist sees. This chronic condition affects approximately 3.4% of women and 0.5 % of men.. There are no specific lab tests that can confirm this diagnosis.

Diagnosis is usually based on symptoms. A physician will diagnose fibromyalgia if the patient has had widespread aching over at least a three month period. There are 18 specific areas that are palpated on the body and if 11 of these are tender to the touch then a diagnosis of FM is arrived at. The areas of possible tenderness include sites such as the shoulders, neck, lower back, hips, elbows, knees and buttocks

The most common symptoms are:

  • Widespread pain, stiffness, and soreness of the muscles and tendons.
  • Pain changes location frequently.
  • Fatigue and or altered or disturbed sleep patterns.
  • Waking up feeling tired.
  • Headaches, jaw pain, and dizziness.
  • Irritable bladder and intestinal discomfort.
  • “Brain fog” – inability to concentrate.
  • Depression.
  • Increased sensitivity to environmental changes; loud noises, change in the weather,  sensitivity to lights, and increased food sensitivity.
  • The symptoms of fibromyalgia can vary according to the weather, stress, physical activity. You may have fibromyalgia even if you don’t meet all of the above criteria.

Causes of Fibromyalgia:

Medical investigators have not determined any one single cause to explain the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Some possible causes of fibromyalgia include: sleep disturbance, injury, viral infection and changes in
brain chemicals.

The Mayo Clinic study of the use of Acupuncture to treat Fibromyalgia:The Mayo Clinic conducted a study where patients diagnosed with Fibromyalgia were treated with a pilot test of six sessions of acupuncture. The results of the study revealed that fibromyalgia patients experienced significant symptomatic relief after the sessions of acupuncture. Dr. David Martin, M.D.,Ph.D., the Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist the study’s lead investigator said, “ Our study was performed on patients with moderate to severe fibromyalgia. It’s my speculation that if acupuncture works for these patients with recalcitrant fibromyalgia – where previous treatments had not provided satisfactory relief – it would likely work for many of the millions of fibromyalgia patients…….This study shows there is something real about acupuncture and its effect on fibromyalgia………Acupuncture could fill a gap in available therapies for the disease as something additive to what medications can already can provide…..We expected acupuncture to improve the pain. We didn’t expect the largest benefit to be in fatigue or anxiety.”

Link to full article:

How Acupuncture works to decrease the symptoms of fibromyalgia: Acupuncture works on the principal that where there is pain there is blockage in the flow of qi and blood in the region. When Qi become impeded or the flow to an area diminished, pain, stiffness and other symptoms related to fibromyalgia can appear. Inserting very fine acupuncture needles into specific points along energy meridians causes the release of these blockages in the muscles, tendons and tender points to help decrease inflammation and pain. This is analogous to a kink in a garden hose which reduces the flow of water from the hose – by straightening out  the hose the flow is then normalized.

Acupuncture has an overall effect on the body to improve generalized circulation of Qi or energy and balance the system enabling the body to deal with stress more effectively which in turn improves sleep function
and general energy.

The frequency of acupuncture sessions ranges widely from patient to patient mainly based on degree of symptoms. Dr. Martin stated that patients would sustain improvement with ongoing acupuncture…” It’s a reasonable expectation that if they received acupuncture after two to three months, they would have maintained their improvement……acupuncture works for about three months, and then patients need a less-intensive treatment session. These patients would need more acupuncture periodically for as long as they experience fibromyalgia symptoms. “

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