Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia

Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a condition affecting an estimated 5.8 million Americans.  Symptoms include but are not limited to chronic, widespread, and severe muscle pain; insomnia; fatigue; headaches; sensitivity to light, noise, and smells; dizziness; heart palpitations; skin rashes; and depression.  It primarily affects women between the ages of 35-50. 

 

There are no lab tests to confirm a fibromyalgia diagnosis, because it does not present evidence of damage to muscle and tissue.  The generalized body pain and stiffness, along with severe fatigue, must last for at least three months for an official western diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Additionally, a test palpating 18 points is often used as a diagnostic tool.  When at least 11 out of 18 points have pain or tenderness, it suggests fibromyalgia. 

Western medicine often treats fibromyalgia with medications for depression and seep, and NSAIDs for pain. 

Unfortunately, these medicines have adverse side effects, which can mimic fibromyalgia symptoms, when used for prolonged periods. These include headaches, nervousness, dizziness, fatigue, and sleeplessness.  Additionally, the medications treat the symptoms as opposed to the underlying causes of fibromyalgia. 

At Affinity Acupuncture, we have had many clients respond well to acupuncture treatments for fibromyalgia. 

The insertion of very fine, sterile needles into specific points on the body promotes the body’s response to heal itself. 

Increased and redirected blood flow loosens tight muscles, relieves pain and tension, and flushes out inflammation.

It also triggers certain hormones which promote sleep and relaxation, calm the mind and relieve stress.

While acupuncture can be effective, it is not an immediate cure.  Most people see improvement after two or three weekly treatments, including increased energy and reduction of pain, insomnia, and depression. 

Because every fibromyalgia sufferer experiences different symptoms, treatments are customized to the individual’s needs.  Typically, three to 10 treatments are required depending on the severity of the condition, and the individual’s personal response to treatment.  Over time, treatments are extended into a maintenance schedule.  Specific diets and herbal formulas may also be recommended. 

If you or someone you love is living with fibromyalgia, acupuncture may be a highly effective treatment.  Call 615-939-2787 to learn more. 

11 Reasons to try Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine

1)      It’s customized to fit you and your needs.
Two people might come in with knee pain on the same day, but they won’t get the same treatment.  The body is made of numerous components, and things such as your digestion, the appearance of your tongue, your energy level, and the sound of your voice factor in to determining the treatment protocol specific to you and your needs.  

2)      It’s not as scary as it seems.
Yes, acupuncture uses needles, but they are about a tenth the size of a hypodermic needle.  You’ll feel them, sure, but most people describe feeling a pressure, and rarely even feel discomfort.  And look at it this way: isn’t getting past chronic pain, nausea, or illness worth 30 minutes with needles?   

3)      It’s non-invasive.
Unlike surgeries, acupuncture does not cause scar tissue.  There’s no need for anesthesia, or even bandages.  The risk of infection is minimal.  Some clients feel their bodies healing after an acupuncture session, but it’s not as significant as recovery post-surgery.

 

4)      It treats the problem, not just the symptoms.
Consider infertility, for example.  IVF and hormone therapies can be effective, but they are invasive and disruptive to life, not to mention expensive.  And they don’t necessarily treat the underlying challenges to conception.  We consider the whole body, and look at the conditions within the male and female body that are making it hard to get pregnant.  Stress levels, digestion, sleep quality, and more all affect reproductive health.  Acupuncture, sometimes in conjunction with herbal remedies, can be highly effective in restoring the body to balance so it can conceive and foster a healthy pregnancy (at a fraction of the cost).  

5)      Its side effects are helpful, not harmful.
Numerous individuals come in for treatment of a specific condition, such as high blood pressure, and find that acupuncture sessions improve their stress level, sleep, overall mood, and digestion also.  Medications for blood pressure, cholesterol, and more can get good results – for treating their target conditions.  They also make the body work incredibly hard to process the foreign substance, and over time can cause damage to the liver and other vital organs, not to mention other side effects.  One of the most common types of overdoses seen in hospitals is over the counter pain medicine.

 

6)      It works.
Acupuncture has been around since before recorded history.  That’s why it’s difficult to determine if it’s 2,500 years old, 4,000 years old, or more.  Tens of billions of people have used it over the millennia.  It isn’t as familiar in the US, because we only really started using it here in the 1970s.  Acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of medicine in the world.  Nothing gets that kind of staying power if it doesn’t work.

7)      It’s your time and money – we respect that
Your health is your most important resource, and our job is helping you reach your wellness goals.  You deserve to have someone focus their attention on you for long enough that you get all of your questions answered and receive the treatment that you require.  We reserve at least 60 minutes for each session to make sure you get the time you need.
There are no silver bullets in life.  Healing takes time. You and your health are our priority.  We offer acupuncture, massage therapy, and various forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and will schedule enough time to make sure you get all of the treatments that you need. 

8)      It isn’t all in your head.
We get a lot of calls from people who say “I’ve tried everything else,” or “They say it’s XYZ, but I just don’t think so,” or even “I’ve had tons of tests and they’re all inconclusive, but I know something is wrong.”  You know your body and when something is off, but the symptoms you have might not make sense to someone with Western medicine training.  That doesn’t mean they’re bad physicians by any means, but Traditional Chinese Medicine can effectively treat syndromes and symptoms that aren’t clearly defined by Western standards.

9)      It’s a great preventative treatment, too.
Every so often, a client calls and asks for a “general tune up”.  The acupuncture treatments they received several months ago fixed their neck or back pain, but they generally feel out of sorts, or off-balance.  Acupuncture is the practice of restoring balance in your body.  It increases circulation, improves immunity, and much more.

 

10)   It’s more affordable than you think.
We’re so used to having insurance cover our medical expenses that when we’re asked to pay for care out of pocket, it feels expensive.  Minor surgeries cost at least $10,000, and major operations can easily be ten times that.  A year’s worth of cholesterol or blood pressure medication can cost over $1,000 out of pocket, even if you have insurance.  Many of those require other medications to counteract the side effects, too!  Certain surgeries and medications can be avoided with lifestyle changes that include preventative care. 
 

11)   It’s more popular than you realize.
Acupuncture really only started to become popular in the US in the 1970s, and because it’s so new here, the practice has its fair share of critics.  Chiropractic work and yoga went through the same thing.  But roughly two billion people around the world currently use acupuncture as their primary form of medicine.  Many insurance companies are slow to include acupuncture in their range of covered services, but an increasing number of doctors and nurses are realizing the “pill for every ill” approach to medicine can be improved by treating the whole person with a variety of modalities. 

The Real Problem with Sleeping Problems

Is How You (Don’t) Sleep Making You Sick?

We all know that there are short term problems with not getting a good night’s sleep – a lack of mental sharpness, irritability, falling asleep at inopportune times, etc.  Did you know there are potential long-term risks to your health also?  For instance, people who sleep less than 6 hours per night are twice as likely to have a heart attack, and four times more likely to have a stroke than those who sleep more than 6 hours.  They are also at greater risk of diabetes and obesity.  Extreme fatigue increases appetite and decreases metabolism, and individuals who regularly get less than 4 hours of sleep 4 nights or more a week may easily be in a pre-diabetic state. 

Half of adults 55+ have at least 1 symptom of insomnia at least 3 times per week including:
– Trouble falling asleep
– Waking during the night
– Waking to early and being unable to fall back to sleep
– Not feeling refreshed upon waking

Women suffer from insomnia more than men due to pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause.

Twenty million Americans take prescription sleep pills regularly. Over $100 million is spent in the US on over the counter sleep aids per year, and that number does not include prescriptions.  Drug oriented OTCs have been studied and found no more effective than a placebo.  Medications alter sleeping cycles, and suppress REM sleep. This can lead to light, restless sleep with nightmares once medications end, or “REM Withdrawl Sleep.”  Many individuals often return to these sleep aids, even the ones advertised as “non-habit forming,” and the cycle continues.  Medications can cause long-term harm to your body.  Additionally, they are expensive, and only treat the symptom of an underlying problem. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that the symptoms of insomnia are the branches of a disease.  An imbalance in the body, usually Chi, blood, Yin, Yan, Jing, or Shen, or a major organ system (lung, liver, heart, spleen, kidney, or liver) causes the imbalance or dysfunction, and acupuncture treatments help realign the body’s systems and help you find balance once more.  Additional methods in Traditional Chinese Medicine, such as herbs, may also help your body better process energy and achieve restful sleep. 

The following may lead to a lack of restful sleep:

The Body
Physical tension
Overeating, especially protein
Irregular sleeping hours
Lack of physical exercise
Dehydration
Menopause
Pain
Smoking
Alcoholism
Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
Sleep apnea (Associated with high blood pressure, increased risk of heart disease and stroke, emotional disturbances and even psychoses.) 

The Mind
Emotional or mental stress
Preoccupation
Overstimulation to the nervous system
TV/video game excess

The Environment
Lack of adequate ventilation; oxygen debt
Allergies – an increased heart rate follows exposure. 
Lights left on at night (disrupts the pineal gland producing melatonin, a sleep hormone)
Temperature extremes in bed
Poor mattress

Diet
Restless Sleepers may have excessive amounts of the following in their diets: 
Caffeine
Alcohol
Heavy metals (such as mercury found in high fructose corn syrup, tuna, swordfish, and mackerel
Salt, which increases blood volume, heart output, and blood pressure. 
Food additives, preservatives, and colorings
Refined carbohydrates, sugar, soda, ice cream or other sweets
Iodine

They may be deficient in:
Vitamin B  
Calcium
Lycopene (found in red and orange foods such as tomatoes, bell peppers)
Total carbohydrates
Protein
Vitamin C
Selenium (found in nuts, mushrooms, meat, and shellfish).  Selenium helps with inflammation.
Lutein (found in green, leafy vegetables)

Iron or copper (found in shellfish, clams, lentils, nuts, and whole-grain foods).  Deficiency may make it take longer to fall asleep, and sleep may be less refreshing.

The body converts tryptophan into seratonin, which is then converted into melatonin.  Both make you feel relaxed and sleepy.  Foods with tryptophan include bananas yogurt, dates, figs, warm milk, dairy, and turkey.  These foods are metabolized best in combination with starches, which make the body release insulin.  This pushes the amino acids except for tryptophan into the muscle cells, leaving the tryptophan alone in the blood stream and ready to go to the brain.  Niacin, a B-vitamin, makes tryptophan work more effectively, and is found in lean meats such as canned tuna.  Melatonin naturally exists in oats, sweet corn, rice, ginger, bananas, and barley.  

Magnesium rich foods can also help you relax and have restful sleep.  Low magnesium levels will stimulate brain-activation neurotransmitters, which leads to overstimulation of the brain. This is especially common in the elderly taking meds that may block magnesium absorption.  Dried beans such as pinto and navy beans, green leafy vegetables, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, and almonds are all rich in magnesium.

Folic acid in spinach, especially if muscle cramping or restless leg syndrome keeps you awake, are good additions to your diet. Inosytol enhances REM sleep

Avoid red meat, chocolate, ham, bacon, sausages, cheese, tomatoes, which contain the CNS stimulant tyramine.

Alcohol does not, in fact, help you get a good night’s sleep.  You may fall asleep easily, because alcohol turns off the hypocretin neurons which keep you awake, but it has a rebound effect and can wake you quickly.