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.


The Uniqueness of Every Pregnancy

Every woman who is pregnant becomes a remembrance of our experience with pregnancy and child birth. It may be common experience, but it is a unique experience for each woman. And the memory of our pregnancies and deliveries last a life time, no matter how they turn out. They are amazing and profound experiences and when we see others in that situation we want to share what we learned. In the end only no one can really prepare us for what Life has to teach us.


Kara shares her experience:

Spending nine months pregnant while providing massage and physical therapy services, I ended up receiving much advice during this time period. I heard all of what I did and possibly did not want to know regarding pregnancy, labor, and delivery.  My first trimester brought on many days of morning sickness symptoms and while working through my symptoms, I was offered much advice from saltine crackers first thing in the morning, sea sickness bands, to peppermint and ginger remedies, and down to my all-time favorite quote, “this too shall pass.” And although this period did pass, I’m not sure it was the encouragement I was looking for.

As pregnancy progressed I had a few patients tell me that I looked “so tiny” (for how far along I was). Being that that could have quite possibly been the first time me and tiny were put together, they just may have gained some extra special treatment that session. I shared this with my husband that night and he tried that line too hoping for me to add some additional working hours as a massage therapist, but I caught onto his scheme.

From my stand point I was able to gain a new perspective and understanding in treatment for my patients especially the pregnant women I treat. I took my experiences of sciatic pain, ligament instability, and other physical limitations with pregnancy and feel now that I can better understand and treat from a whole new perspective. I will tell you that core stabilization is truly the key and even though there is a baby there, you can still contract those abdominals throughout pregnancy.

Towards the end of pregnancy, I had the privilege of hearing numerous women’s own labor and delivery stories that while some provided me with some useful advice, others made me wonder what I was getting myself into.  All in all, I enjoyed my nine months working and allowing others to join me on my journey. There were many patients during this time that gave me strength and inspiration through their advice that I only hope I was able to provide them through therapy.

October 28, Kara joined the ranks of those with an amazing story to tell.

Things that would put me out of business

1.  Start new activities in a small amount and build up gradually

2.  Keep a regular schedule of sleeping, moderate exercise and healthy anti-inflammatory eating

3.  Poop regularly

4.  Practice mindful breathing and mindful movement

5.  Use your abdominal muscles effectively.

This might actually reduce the health care crisis as well.  Don’t tell anyone, it might hurt the economy……

Consistency for the Inconsistent

Consistency is necessary for results.  However, this is difficult for me. and I think it is a challenge for a lot of people.  So as I restart ‘blogging’, I dedicate my first post to all those who have trouble being consistent.  In order to achieve the outcomes you desire, consider the following:

1. Recognize your default setting and don’t judge.  Recognize that the default setting might be sitting and vegetating, or some such thing.  When you see this happening, don’t judge!  Maybe you need a little time to relax.

2.    A little goes a long way.  Rather than having to do something for a long period of time.  Spend just a few minutes.  Keep it short, whether a workout, a meditation, or any task.  Break them down to bite sizes you can do on a regular basis.  Often we put things off because we don’t think we have the two hour block needed to ‘do it right’.  10 minutes can go a long way for things like fitness and mindfulness.

3.  Establish a minimum baseline of activity.  Have some basic agreements with yourself on what you will get done.  This baseline consists of a few things you want to do on a regular basis to maintain health.

4.  Routine.  Establishing a schedule helps to keep you on track with your baseline activities.  It eliminates the questions, ‘do I want to?, or do I feel like it?’  The answer to these questions for me in regards to the stuff that is good for me is often, no.   On the other hand, if the clock says it is time, it is time.

5.  And not routine.  Doing the same thing every single day does not work for me.  So I have three or four different exercise routines I do and different meditation styles.  By changing it up routinely, I stick with activities longer.

Well, that’s what I have for today!  Much Love, SaraTherefore, my Cenestherapeutics blog will post more regularly, but be short a more a reflection of what is current for me.  And I hope as a result what I hoped to share here will unfold in its own way.

Do we need to drag up the past?

Physical therapy might be thought of as learning to use our body’s like we might learn to own a car, we learn how to drive it, how to take care of the engine, etc.  This is not a complete analogy, because the body has consciousness.  But managing the body consciousness is definitely one of the things you can learn in some physical therapy settings.
The body is like a big recording device.  It remembers everything that has happened to it.  We develop ways of being based on the stimulus our body has received.  When we become conscious of that we can begin to ‘drive’ the body with more finesse.  Adverse childhood experiences can set the tone of how we respond in stressful situation.  Fear can lead to bodily tension that then causes physical strain.  We can perhaps repair the strain, but for long term health it is extremely valuable to recognize the presence of fear and respond at that first level.

So does this mean we have to go back through and resolve all the past events in our life in which we were hurt?  There are many opinions about this.  I think it is valuable and important to reflect on your life and have an understanding of it.  This is the work of psychology.   When we have an understanding of ourselves, we will have a quicker recognition of tension  triggers.  But as it says in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, understanding does not save.  I think the more pertinent question is how will I live today?  When I recognize fear, and how I am physically with fear, I can create a different relationship with it.  One that is more open, accepting and compassionate toward the part of me that is afraid.  This is the development of an observer self that sees the shaking, sees where the tension is held and decides to let it go.  This observer self could be found in the Tan Tien, the center of gravity of our body at about the belly button level.   So today watch from your center, have compassion for what you notice, within and without and then let go of tension!
Much Love!  Sara

Pain Resources

Hello again!  It has been way too long since I posted something!  Time slipped away in travel and family things and work things.  But I am back at it.  As promised last July here are some resources for pain management:  the subtitle of this website is “Improving pain treatment through education”.  It is a mix of provider information and patient information and also describes a lot about opioid use.   It’s good to have an understanding of where your doctor is coming from.  This is the official site for the International Association for the Study of Pain.  If you click on resources, then patient resources you will find more links that may be helpful to your particular situation.  This website is devoted to educating the health professional on how to assist people in pain to change their pain.  There are resources for patients on the site.  This is the patient information area of the American Academy of Neurology, there are some videos for different neurological diagnosis.  Some will cost money.  In the non-pharmaceutical department, here are a few recommendations for supplements that have been shown to help reduce pain for different conditions.  Of course, check with your provider to make sure you don’t get any interactions with things you are already taking.  Here is an article from WebMD that can give you an overview of non-medical options for pain management  And this is a video that explains the Explain Pain model in under five minutes.  I like to use this one when educating people on pain.
I hope you are enjoying this beautiful fall!  Sara


Many of the techniques that come out of health care, traditional or alternative, arise out of the desire to alleviate pain and suffering.   It is for the most part an unquestioned belief in our society that we should not feel pain.  This is like saying the sky should not be blue.  It is a rejection of what is a normal part of the human experience.

Those with good intentions to provide relief from suffering with medication have inadvertently participated in the current epidemic of prescription drug abuse.   I have noticed in my practice an increasing amount of fragility among the people with chronic pain, and a lack of coping skills because of over reliance on pain medication.  Medication doesn’t take the problem away.  It appears to me to allow the underlying cause to fester and grow.   The commitment to numb out to the experience of life seems to be rampant, from movies that create anxiety, television that jumps frames in rapid succession, smart phones, and endless use of computers, to food designed to trigger the addictive parts of the brain.

I understand there are times that medication is a blessing, but it is not needed as often as we might think.

A friend recently recounted to me how she has been able to use manual lymphatic drainage when she had dental surgery and she did not require any medication.

Paul Brand, in his book, “Pain, the Gift Nobody Wants” talks about the people in India, where he grew up, and how they accepted pain as a part of life.  His parents were missionaries in India and in his adult life he went back as a hand surgeon to work with people with Hansen’s disease (leprosy).  He notes that for people with this disease they do not feel pain and that lack of sensation causes great damage to their bodies.

What if you lived today as if the pain that is currently present for you is a gift?  You might unwrap it with curiosity and excitement for what is inside.  Listen to your pain as if it had a message.  Turn your attention toward it with acceptance and love.

Recently I have heard reference to using techniques to distract us from pain.  I say turn toward it, shine a light on it, embrace it as if finally hugging that part of you that has been crying out for some attention.  Treat it like you would have liked to be treated as a child, not abusively, not permissively but with loving discipline, scoop it up in your loving arms and take care of it.

Acceptance of the pain we are experiencing often lessens it.  It calls us into the present moment.

I have some links in mind to share, but I will post them later in the week.  It is time to get on with my day!  I hope you have a great one.