Acupuncture is one of the mainstays of traditional Chinese medicine. It has been used in the treatment of a variety of complaints such as pain, infertility, allergies, anxiety, and depression among others. Its primary benefit is in the alleviation of pain as a result of different pathophysiologic processes. One of the more severe forms of pain is the pain brought about by fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is a debilitating and very complex disease with poorly understood etiology
and widely contrasting treatment modalities. While experts continue to be baffled by the exact pathophysiologic mechanism that gives rise to the disease’s principal pathologic feature – widespread pain – Fibromyalgia
can only be described as a disease that may have its origins from the central nervous system. Problems in the brain that can lead to increased neuropeptide activity as well as disturbances in the hypothalamic-adenohypophyseal-adrenal axis have been largely implicated in the disease process.
The classic manifestations of fibromyalgia include chronic widespread pain, extreme pain when touched, sleep disturbances, nerve pain, muscle, prolonged muscle spasms, and muscle twitching among others.
While science has difficulty explaining the exact mechanism of the widespread body pain, traditional Chinese medicine has a much simpler explanation. Pain is the result of the disturbance in the life energy that flows all over the body in regions or meridians. Restoring the balance or the normal flow of Qi is therefore the goal of acupuncture.
Acupuncture and the Management of Fibromyalgia
A recent study showed that acupuncture can significantly improve the symptoms associated with Fibromyalgia. The study was conducted on twenty fibromyalgia patients who were subjected to three months of acupuncture together with counseling. The results showed that 17 of the 20 study participants reported moderate to very significant improvements in their fibromyalgia symptoms. Only three reported minimal improvements. Whether or not the results can be described as full of subject bias, it nonetheless paves the way for further research into the effectiveness of acupuncture in the management of fibromyalgia pain.
Moxibustion-treated acupuncture needles are believed to intensify the stimulation of the acupuncture energy point. These can also significantly improve the circulation of the bioelectrical signals along the meridians of the body.
The value of acupuncture in fibromyalgia pain is directly correlated to its effects on brain endorphins. These substances have been largely taken to be involved in the stimulation of the neuroendocrine pathway which results in the reduction of pain sensations, improvements in overall mood, and enhancement of the individual’s general sense of well-being.
The value of counseling in fibromyalgia management is believed to be rooted in cognitive therapy. Fibromyalgia counseling centers on the importance of lifestyle modifications, good nutrition, restful sleep, pacing, relaxation exercises, breathing exercises, and stress management. By helping individuals understand and appreciate the importance of consciously taking steps to change one’s lifestyle and behavior, counseling can vastly improve the benefits afforded by acupuncture.
The study revealed how a comprehensive approach to fibromyalgia management can bring about the much-desired patient outcomes of improved symptoms and quality of life indicators. It is thus recommended that a holistic, mind-body approach to managing the chronic widespread pain of fibromyalgia sufferers be considered a mainstream therapeutic regimen.