In some senses we could call fibromyalgia the scourge of the 21st Century. I’m sure in previous times many people have suffered from fibromyalgia without having that name or pattern imprinted on their aches or pains.
Essentially speaking, fibromyalgia is overall body pain, almost at a cellular level, where the sufferer experiences aches and pains over the entire body. This includes the arms and legs and all the major areas where people will experience significant discomfort. Pain in the lower back and neck and shoulders can be prominent symptoms of this disorder also.
Fibromyalgia is a term a bit like chronic fatigue syndrome. When someone is experiencing fatigue all the time, then the tendency in the West is to categorise people with exhaustion as having chronic fatigue. We categorise people who have chronic body pain as having fibromyalgia. So it is not a specific problem as such but an overall term which embraces many different conditions according to traditional Chinese Medicine and Japanese acupuncture.
Fibromyalgia, from a traditional East Asian perspective, is a consequence and a result of a number of factors. In the background, there is often a genetic or a constitutional factor where the individual is predisposed to suffering this type of ailment.
In addition to this constitutional element, there is the lifestyle factor which is a major scenario in that someone’s immune system has been compromised by different viruses or bacterial infections. The individual continues to push themselves physically and/or mentally into high stress scenarios and their health is already compromised by previous illness. They may also be constitutionally compromised and this compounds the health problems. These people tend towards a condition like fibromyalgia, and in some cases, chronic fatigue syndrome.
While we have discussed chronic fatigue syndrome elsewhere, here we are focusing on fibromyalgia itself. The condition manifests more prominently as pain and discomfort as distinct from total exhaustion with less pain and discomfort.
There is a fine line between these two conditions, but both from an Oriental Medicine perspective, show evidence of having “pushed the billycart too far” – having made an extraordinary effort over an extended period of time under duress. This is where the fibromyalgia can come from. There are other situations, such as constant exposure to air conditioning units on a particular part of the body, that can aggravate the situation.
Essentially, in traditional Japanese acupuncture, it is what we call a spleen deficiency. This is an essential deficiency of the earth element which is the structure that powers our unit, both mentally and physically.
I practise a gentle, meridian-based style of acupuncture, called Japanese acupuncture, which originated thousands of years ago in Oriental or East Asian Medicine.
This traditional acupuncture approach has been refined by the Japanese in the last century. It is a wonderful way to work with people suffering from this condition in that it is pain-free itself – it doesn’t require deep needling especially with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. This is especially true in treating fibromyalgia. If we needle too deeply and cause too much disturbance of the tissue, this will often aggravate the situation rather than ameliorate it.
So I found in my clinical experience that traditional Japanese acupuncture is a wonderful way to approach this medical condition and assist people to overcome this debilitating illness.
If you suffer from the aches and pains associated with fibromyalgia, please don’t hesitate to visit us at our Brisbane Acupuncture clinic in Woolloongabba.