Fibromyalgia and Chinese Medicine

by Johanna Utter, L.Ac., FABORM

Fibromyalgia and Chinese Medicine, Johanna Utter, L.Ac., FABORM in Davis, CA

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and memory and mood issues.

Fibromyalgia is thought to affect up to 6% of the population, particularly middle-aged women, although it can start as early as the teen years. Most people will experience symptoms for the rest of their lives, however, many may experience periods in which their pain and fatigue lessen.

You May Have Fibromyalgia if You Have...

  • Widespread muscle and joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain, burning, twitching, or tightness
  • Low pain threshold or tender points
  • Trouble concentrating and remembering, often called "fibro fog"
  • Insomnia or not sleeping well
  • Feeling nervous, worried, or depressed
  • Belly pain, bloating, queasiness, constipation, and diarrhea (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth, nose, and eyes
  • Sensitivity to cold, heat, light, or sound
  • Frequent urination
  • Numbness or tingling in your face, arms, hands, legs, or feet

What Causes Fibromyalgia?

The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but it seems to run in families and most often affects women. It may be triggered by a combination of factors such as infections, genetics, trauma, stress, hormonal fluctuations and lack of physical activity. Anxiety or depression are not a cause of fibromyalgia, but usually make the pain worse.

Although fibromyalgia has not been shown to be an autoimmune disease, having a rheumatic condition like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis may increase your risk.

How Is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed?

Fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose because there isn’t a lab test that can detect fibromyalgia. Its symptoms are similar to some autoimmune disorders, and in many cases, fibromyalgia occurs simultaneously with them.

How Does Conventional Medicine Treat Fibromyalgia?

There is no known cure. It is most often treated with drugs, cognitive behavioral therapy, and stress-relieving techniques, such as muscle relaxation, deep breathing or meditation.

There's Hope!

Chinese medicine can be extremely helpful in treating the pain and other uncomfortable symptoms of fibromyalgia .

  • Acupuncture reduces pain, improves blood flow, increases endorphins, and restores healthy body functioning.
  • Chinese herbs decrease pain, relieve stress, and improve energy, sleep, and digestion.
  • Treatment is holistic, individualized, patient-centered, and empowering.

What to Expect from Treatment with Chinese Medicine

  • gentle, non-invasive, personalized treatment
  • less pain
  • reduced stress
  • better digestion
  • more energy, strength, vitality
  • improved mood and well-being
  • improved immunity and reduced inflammation
  • increased comfort

Depending on the severity of symptoms, treatment may be more frequent in the beginning, and less frequent as things improve.

How Can You Help Yourself?

  • Regular weekly acupuncture treatment
  • Chinese herbs prescribed by a licensed herbalist
  • Regular, moderate exercise to improve blood flow, reduce pain, increase endorphins, and improve mood. Try yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, walking, or exercising in a warm water pool.
  • Regular bed and wake-up times. Reduce the use of screens in the evening and be in bed by 10 pm.
  • Regular rest. Lie down for 20 minutes a day.
    An anti-inflammatory diet, rich in vegetables and lean protein. Avoid sugar, wheat, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, artificial sweeteners, and nightshades. Add fish oils, coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, and grass-fed meats.
  • Regular mealtimes
  • No cold, frozen, or raw food or drinks.
  • Stress reduction, such as meditation, relaxation
  • Pace yourself. Practice moderation, set limits, and learn to say no, especially to things that drain your energy.
  • Massage