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Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia

More about Fibromyalgia

This musculoskeletal disorder characterized by widespread chronic pain and several co‐morbidities, including insomnia, fatigue, stiffness, IBS, headaches, and anxiety, occurs predominantly in women. It affects over 2% of the population. Pharmacotherapy effectively addressing all the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia was not available until recently.

Causes and associated conditions of Fibromyalgia

It is likely that a number of factors are involved, but the precise source is unknown, and it is not clear why some people develop fibromyalgia. Some of the causes that have been identified are abnormal pain messages through the nerves, hormone imbalances, sleep problems, genetics, and other possible triggers such as an injury, giving birth, viral infection, stress, having surgery, etc. Some conditions associated with fibromyalgia are osteoarthritis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), ankylosing spondylitis, and TMJ. Factors leading to inflammation in muscles and ligaments can potentially cause fibromyalgia. In many cases, patients with fibromyalgia may have auto-antibodies that attack their own tissues, causing chronic inflammation in their soft tissues and nervous system.

Studies on benefits and coverage of acupuncture for Fibromyalgia

Numerous studies from both the West and the East indicate that acupuncture is efficient in treating fibromyalgia. Meta-analyses of acupuncture for fibromyalgia conclude that it appears to be a useful treatment. Ever since acupuncture has shifted into the mainstream, many insurance companies have added it to their plans, and some doctors’ clinics have begun to offer it at their facilities.

Acupuncture: An Oriental Therapy

Acupuncture is an ancient oriental medicine-based method. It is used to treat a wide scope of ailments by stimulating specific points or certain neural pathways on the skin using fine needles. It is a minimally invasive treatment method used to stimulate nerve-dense areas of the skin surface. It facilitates the heightened response of organs, glands, tissues, and various vital functions of your body. It also helps in balancing the immune systems of your body. It is an excellent remedy for soothing pain and irritation.

Research supporting acupuncture in Fibromyalgia treatment

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can multi-target different organs, including the nervous system, adrenal glands, and the digestive system. Patients having acupuncture treatment for over 6 months will see relief of their symptoms from fibromyalgia.  A study published In Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2019 reviewed 8 RCTs, comparing traditional acupuncture and sham acupuncture for patient with fibromyalgia. Compared with sham acupuncture, traditional acupuncture significantly relieved pain and improved  sleep quality in  people with fibromyalgia. This review study did not show significant difference in fatigue in patients with fibromyalgia, comparing traditional acupuncture and sham acupuncture.

Clinically, we need at least 24 acupuncture treatments to have an accumulated effect for people with fibromyalgia. Some people prefer electrical stimulation, whereas other people prefer manual acupuncture treatment. People with panic attacks and anxiety generally do not like electrical acupuncture. When electrical acupuncture moves energy too fast, their sympathetic nervous system becomes hyperactive, and they can feel more pain and irritation even though their inflammation is reduced.

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