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Acupuncture and Fibromyalgia

fibromyalgia acupuncture

Acupuncture and Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a catch-all term used in Western medicine to describe widespread pain around the body with no known cause. Fibromyalgia impairs both joints and soft tissue and is considered a form of rheumatism. Because there is no identified cause of fibromyalgia, there is no cure and Western medicine treatment typically focusses around the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and pain killers to manage the problem. The main issue here of course is that the drugs only treat the symptom (not the root cause) and that long-term use of these drugs is detrimental to your health.

Fibromyalgia affects far more women than men and often impacts younger women.

What Fibromyalgia Can Do to You

Not only does fibromyalgia cause widespread pain, many people with the disease also seem to have fatigue, anxiety, depression and digestive issues. Fibromyalgia is a complex, multifaceted disease that have an enormous effect on the lives of those who suffer from it. If can affect your ability to work and maintain your income, make it very difficult to enjoy simple activities like bush walking and make it almost impossible to get a good night’s sleep because of the pain you experience every time you move.

How Acupuncture Treats Fibromyalgia

Targeted acupuncture leads to a chain of events in the body to relief fibromyalgia pain:

  • Altering the chemistry of the brain to increase endorphins (feel-good, pain relief hormone) and neuropeptides and decrease serotonin levels.
  • Increasing the binding potential of opioid receptors to increase pain relief (Harris 2009).
  • Reduces inflammation by promoting the release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kavoussi 2007, Zijlstra 2003).
  • Vasodilation of vessels to increase blood flow to aid in the dispersal of swelling and to deliver the body’s natural opioids and ‘repair crew’ to the areas of pain.

In a nutshell, acupuncture melbourne improves blood flow to deliver more of the body’s natural pain killers and repair crews to the areas of pain.  This reduces pain and inflammation, naturally.

How Chinese Herbs Treat Fibromyalgia

According the Chinese medicine, there are a few systemic issues occurring at the same time that bring on fibromyalgia.  These systemic issues explain why fibromyalgia pain can be so widespread right across the body.

  • Poor blood flow – inflammation of soft tissues can restrict blood flow in the vessels within it. The restricted blood flow impedes the body’s ability to deal with the pain and repair problems.
  • Excess ‘damp’ – ‘damp’ is a Chinese medicine term for a sticky and gooey substance in the body that simply ‘gunks you up’. Damp contributes to inflammation, heaviness and pain.
  • Too much heat – if you run too hot (i.e. you feel hot) this contributes to inflammation.

In most cases, all of these factors are present in people with fibromyalgia.  However, there is usually one that is predominant.

There are particular Chinese herbs that deal with each of these systemic issues.  A tailored combination of herbs is used to increase blood flow, reduce damp (inflammation), reduce heat and also to directly reduce pain.

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs

The key to improving and recovering from fibromyalgia in Chinese medicine is to receive acupuncture treatment to deal with specific pain and Chinese herbal treatment to deal with the systemic issues that are causing the problem. By combining acupuncture and herbs we have the best chance of improving your fibromyalgia symptoms.  We will also talk to you about your diet as the foods you are eating will be playing a significant role in both your fibromyalgia symptoms and your recovery.

Can You Receive Acupuncture Treatment When on Other Treatments?

You can continue to take your medications while receiving acupuncture and herbal therapy.  This will help you feel more comfortable, particularly in the early stages of treatment.  After a period of treatment, we will review if you can talk to your GP about tapering off your medications.

How Long Will You Have to Receive Treatment For?

Until we do the initial 3 or 4 acupuncture treatments we don’t know.  Everybody responds differently to acupuncture – some quickly and other slowly.  At the end of the 3 or 4 treatments we will advise you both it we believe acupuncture will work and also how long we think it will take.  Remember, that fibromyalgia is a complex disease that you may have had for some time by the time you’ve come to see us. It cannot be fixed overnight, but if it’s going to work, you will feel pain relief soon.

How Does Fibromyalgia Treatment Progress?

In our experience, here is typically how treatment would progress:

  1. We will do 3 or 4 acupuncture treatments to assess how well you respond to acupuncture. At the end of these 3 or 4 treatments, we should be able to advise you if we believe we will be able to help you with pain relief or not.  You will also know from the pain relief you have received.  These 3 or 4 treatments are usually done within 1 to 2 weeks.
  2. More often than not, we will be able to rid of most (if not all) of your pain during each treatment). We aim for you to be pain-free each time you leave the clinic.  However, because your body is used to being in pain, the pain will return.  Acupuncture retrains your central nervous system to work correctly again to send the body’s natural pain killers and ‘repair crew’ to the areas of pain.  This retraining of your body to work correctly is what makes acupuncture such a good long-term treatment for fibromyalgia.
  3. If we believe that acupuncture treatment will help you (and of course if you do as well), you would then begin a treatment plan of regular acupuncture, Chinese herbs and changes to your diet.


Chinese medicine has a unique and often effective way to help treat fibromyalgia pain naturally. It is the unique combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbs and diet therapy that make it effective.

If you suffer from fibromyalgia pain, book in for a consultation with us.  We will assess you, talk to you about treatment and the best way forward and begin treating you with acupuncture with a view to removing most or all of your pain while you receive your first acupuncture treatment.  After these initial treatments you’ll have a much clearer view on how treatment is progressing and if you would like to continue.