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Treating Fibromyaglia with Acupuncture

Fibromyalgia is a complex disorder characterized by widespread pain and general fatigue, frequently in association with other symptoms such as digestive problems, insomnia, headaches and depression. It seems to effect primarily women aged 35- 60. From a western medicine perspective, diagnosis is based on multiple tender points and the etiology is unknown. In Chinese medicine pattern diagnosis allows us to treat each individual based solely on the symptoms as presented.

In Chinese medicine we use the four examinations of asking, listening, looking and palpating to formulate a diagnosis. The evaluation of the signs and symptoms reveal a pattern of disharmony that describes the imbalance. The pattern of disharmony then provides the framework for the treatment. Once the pattern is known the treatment follows.

There are several theories in Chinese medicine for the cause of fibromyalgia. One of these is that a pathological factor has become lodged in the muscles. The pathogen can be damp, heat, cold or wind, or a combination such as damp heat. Since the muscles are ruled by the Spleen in Chinese medicine, fibromyalgia may be associated with a Spleen deficiency. The involvement of the Spleen would also account for the fatigue. The Spleen is responsible for transforming the food we eat into energy in the Chinese model. Other possible causes of fibromyalgia may be repetitive strain syndrome, stress, trauma, poor sleep, exposure to damp and cold, and infection from Epstein-Barr virus.

Once the evaluation is complete acupuncture treatments will focus on expelling the pathogen, and/or building up the immune system and general body energy, especially the Spleen energy. Nutritional supplements, mild exercise or other types of body work such as lymphatic massage may be recommended. While acupuncture can help one recover from fibromyalgia, the progress is usually slow, requiring several months of treatment.

Terry Tangredi Lic. Ac. 131 Main Street, Hatfield, MA. 01038 (413) 247-3388