You finally have a diagnosis after months, or perhaps years, of doctor after doctor and test after test. Finally, a doctor has said that you have what is called fibromyalgia and tells you that it affects as many as 1 in 50 Americans with 80% to 90% of them being women. So now what? Will you finally get your life back? What type of treatments are available? Is there a cure? It seems as if having a diagnosis can be as difficult and frustrating as not having one!
Fibromyalgia is not a cookie cutter disease in that symptoms, as well as treatment plans, can vary from year-to-year and person-to-person. You may be seeing multiple medical providers in addition to your primary care physician including rheumatologists, physical therapists, psychologists, osteopaths, neurologists, nutritionists and more. These Western or traditional medical providers will normally concentrate on creating a treatment plan that relieves your pain with treatments such as physical therapy, medications such anti-depressants and narcotics, changes in diet or cognitive therapy. Normally the doctor will try more than one of these together to ease your pain and other symptoms.
But there also are other options for treatment; options that have not denied the existence of fibromyalgia or stated that it was “all in your head”. These so-called “alternative” medical treatments have been shown to aid in the reduction of pain, sleeplessness, fatigue and other symptoms that make everyday living difficult for a fibromyalgia sufferer. Treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractic, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Reiki, to name a few, have acknowledged the existence of the Western disease “fibromyalgia” for countless years. Although the approach to healing is somewhat different with each alternative treatment, all of them treat the entire person and not just the pain, fatigue or insomnia.
Acupuncture is one treatment that has been more accepted by the mainstream medical community than treatments such as Reiki or TCM. Acupuncture uses thin needles inserted into the body at certain points to unblock the flow of energy of life force or “qi” (pronounced “chi”) which in turn reduces symptoms. A study conducted by Mayo Clinic and published in 2006 shows that fibromyalgia sufferers who received 6 acupuncture treatments over a two- to three-week period had reduction in their pain and anxiety symptoms for up to 7 months afterwards.
So if you are ready to look beyond traditional medicine in an attempt to ease your fibromyalgia symptoms, acupuncture might be a great place to start. It has been used in China for over 3,000 years for ailments ranging from asthma to chemotherapy side effects. Its use in fighting the fatigue and pain of fibromyalgia is becoming more mainstream in the West as more and more people are clamoring for a drug-free treatment to getting their lives back.