Acupuncture is in popular press almost every week lately. Oprah Winfrey demonstrated acupuncture in her show in August 2008, then again, it was featured in the evening news on Sept. 22 as a treatment method capable of targeting a wide range of problems, including fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia has been written by many health practitioners but it is worth revisiting from the acupuncture perspective. To me, FMS is a catch-all term for those who have widespread musculo-skeletal pain longer than 3 months, involving all four quadrants of the body, and a tender point count of 11 out of 18 points. Many patients with FMS also suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, mood disorder such as depression and anxiety, insomnia etc. According to the American Rheumatology Association, the etiology is not clear.
As an experienced acupuncturist and traditional Chinese medicine practitioner in Cincinnati over the 20 years, I have helped many patients with FMS. Acupuncture is based on a channel theory in which vital energy or Qi circulates in channels or meridians crisscrossing and covering the entire body like a web. If there is Qi blockage, Qi deficiency or imbalance, pain and other illnesses may arise. Acupuncture helps mobilizing and balancing Qi. Most tender points in FMS do fall on acupuncture channels. Frequently, there is a predominant channel diagnosis, e.g. energy blockage in the gallbladder channel or the urinary bladder channel. Certainly, more than one channel may be affected in one individual.
With my special style of acupuncture using a distant balancing method, needles are usually not inserted into tender points in FMS. Sometimes, just a few needles may clear up one channel, thus avoiding too many needles causing discomfort to patients.
An experienced acupuncturist always comes up with a strategy that targets multiple symptoms in one treatment session. Traditional Chinese medicine is holistic medicine, and it is not just for pain management.
In addition, I also suggest herbal remedy and nutritional supplements depending on each patient's special need. Some patients may have yin and yang energy imbalance from the Chinese medicine perspective, while others may suffer from antioxidants or mineral deficiency.