Traditional Acupuncture and fibromyalgia
Acupuncture treatments relieving symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is characterised by widespread pain and a heightened, painful response to pressure. Symptoms of chronic fatigue and sleep disturbance are also commonly seen. It is estimated that 2 to 4 % of the population suffer from this extremely debilitating condition.
The purpose of this piece will be to briefly discuss fibromyalgia from a western biomedical perspective, and then to look at how traditional acupuncture can be employed to help with this condition, and finally, to discuss the available research on the effectiveness of acupuncture.
Fibromyalgia & Western Medicine
Fibromyalgia is sometimes given the longer name of Fibromyalgia Syndrome, because often the symptoms are not restricted to pain, but can include fatigue, disturbed sleep, and joint stiffness, and in addition It is often seen together with psychiatric conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety. The name literally means 'muscle and connective tissue pain'.
From a biomedical point of view, there is no identifiable cause for fibromyalgia. Currently the aim of therapy is to reduce symptoms, and improve muscle function. This is achieved through medication - mainly NSAID's and Tramadol. The research that has realised some results show that the condition is a Central nervous system disorder, and the main symptom of the widespread muscle and connective tissue pain result from chemical imbalances in the nerve tissue in the brain, that results from problems with pain processing. This could well be due to prolonged periods of stress during childhood.
Fibromyalgia & Traditional Acupuncture
The approach taken by traditional acupuncture in the treatment of this condition is essentially the same as it is for any condition - namely it is holistic in nature, and so seeks to look at the person as a whole; that the symptoms exhibited give clues to the internal environment of the body, and must be observed as a whole.
Although it is not the aim of this piece to discuss in detail the technical aspects of acupuncture theory as it relates to the condition of fibromyalgia, a practitioner seeking to treat a patient presenting with this condition might look at some of the following aspects.
In general a practitioner will always pay attention to the pulse - the different qualities of strength and rhythm; and the tongue - the coating and the shape etc. These all point to types of disharmony or imbalance in the body's qi.
Although from a holistic point of view, signs and symptoms are viewed collectively, Chinese medicine also seeks too differentiate signs and symptoms according to whether they arise from the qi being deficient or unable to flow smoothly in all directions. This together with the pulse and the tongue would enable the acupuncturist to begin formulating a treatment plan, and which specific acupuncture points to apply the needles to.
The available research evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of Fibromyalgia.
The BAcC has produced a number of research Fact sheets on how acupuncture can help with a number of conditions. These discuss the research available. The fact sheet relating to Fibromyalgia can be found at
One of the pieces of research reviewed here revealed that in a 4 week randomised control trial of different combinations of acupuncture, cupping (one of the additional treatment techniques in Chinese medicine), and drug therapy, the conclusion was that acupuncture, cupping and drug therapy combined was superior in its results to that of acupuncture plus cupping or the drug therapy alone.
So to conclude, traditional acupuncture can help with the condition of fibromyalgia, and that some research trials confirm this. However more research is needed to fully confirm this.
sourced from BAC