Acupuncture and Fibromyalgia

Jonathon Faix, LAc, has joined the staff of Therapy Solutions.  We are very happy to have him here, and the treatment options he brings.  He is a wealth of knowledge and does an awesome job of putting the practice of acupuncture into understandable terms for the western mind.  He is this weeks guest blogger and provides some insight into the role acupuncture can play for those with fibromyalgia.

The body’s defensive systems are often thought to only include the white blood cells, and the body’s detoxification systems are only limited to certain organs. However, this is not a complete picture. Individual cells have mechanisms to eliminate or neutralize heavy metals and toxic chemicals, and the ability to mount their own defense to invading pathogens.

These defensive and detoxification pathways require mineral and vitamin cofactors to both activate and deactivate. In the case of fibromyalgia these systems are lacking the necessary nutritional components to properly deactivate. What happens is excessive amounts of what’s known as superoxide and nitric oxide is produced, and these two compounds combine forming peroxynitrite. The peroxynitrite irritates and damages the local tissues causing another release of nitric oxide and superoxide to fight off an apparent pathogen or toxin. A lack of antioxidants, chiefly glutathione and superoxide dismutase, means the body is unable to mitigate or turn off the inflammatory pathway. The result is a viscous cycle of inflammation and pain.

As a result of this chronic pain the nervous system treats the painful area as if significant trauma had occurred or a serious infection has taken hold. The result is that the nervous system stimulates the fascia to tighten around capillary beds, reducing blood flow to the area to prevent excessive blood loss or to prevent a perceived infection from spreading. This further compounds the situation resulting in loss of nutrient and oxygen delivery to the tissues.

How Acupuncture Can Help
The definition of health to an acupuncturist is nutrient rich, highly oxygenated blood circulating freely to all tissues of the body. Acupuncture works by stimulating nodes that are composed of dense beds of venule, capillary, arteriol, lymphatic, and related nerve tissue (the acupuncture points). These beds rise off deeper blood vessels (the meridians) and are interrelated through the nervous system. Through physical stimulation of the nodes in one area the nervous system promotes blood flow to areas of the body distal to the stimulation site. This restores or promotes proper blood flow to an area, and with that fascia relaxes, nutrients (called Ying) and Qi (in this context Qi is properly translated as “vital air,” ie. oxygen) are delivered through the blood (called Xue) to the tissue. With this restoration of proper blood circulation any pain is quickly alleviated.

Significant pain relief after the first acupuncture treatment is typical. Successive treatments along with a nutrient supplementation program will keep the pain from coming back. Most experience long-term resolution after six treatments once a week. Those with chronic fatigue, either alone or in conjunction with fibromyalgia, typically need to come in twice a week for at least six treatments followed by six treatments once a week in order for there to be long-term resolution.

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