February 21, 2013
Living With Fibromyalgia: Treatment Options (Part 2)
Be sure to check out the first part of this blog series.
Acupuncture has also been recommended as a possible treatment to help relieve the pain, stiffness and muscle spasms that can accompany fibromyalgia. Most of the sites I have explored regarding acupuncture and fibromyalgia deal with Chinese medicine. Although many people still view acupuncture with some skepticism, it has been used successfully for many, many years to treat a whole host of conditions. And while not all of these disorders deal with pain, most of them do.
First, a bit of history and background on acupuncture. It is a generally held belief that it originated in China.
The tradition of acupuncture theory believes that energy flows within the human body and this energy can be channelized to create balance and health. This energy flow is called qi and pronounced “chee”.
Acupuncture theory believes that this qi moves throughout the body along 12 main channels known as meridians. These meridians represent the major organs and functions of the body. These meridians however do not follow the exact pathways of nerves or blood flow.
But acupuncture as a treatment for fibromyalgia is very controversial. The National Institutes for Health has said that some reviews find results to be promising, while others have found no concrete evidence that it works. The mixed reviews may be due to the fact that 1) not many studies have been done, and 2) every patient is different and therefore responds differently to the same treatment. And while I will probably pass on trying this specific treatment method myself (I really dislike needles of any kind), it HAS been proven to work on other types of pain, particularly back pain. There is no way to know if this treatment will work for you unless you try it.
Another controversial treatment is biofeedback. I know, I know! It sounds like some new age, hippy mumbo jumbo. It isn’t. I’d heard of it, but had no idea what it really was. WebMD has a great, simple explanation: “Biofeedback is a method that uses the mind to control a body function that the body normally regulates automatically, such as skin temperature, muscle tension, heart rate, or blood pressure.”
Biofeedback is basically learning to control your pain with your mind by relaxing your muscles, using breathing and relaxation exercises. There really haven’t been any “official” studies (at least not that I found) on whether or not this is an effective technique for pain associated with fibromyalgia specifically. But is HAS been used for years in the treatment of other ailments where pain is a major factor. Because of that, my best guess would be it would be at least partially effective.
The three most commonly used forms of biofeedback therapy are:
- Electromyography (EMG), which measures muscle tension
- Thermal biofeedback, which measures skin temperature
- Neurofeedback or electroencephalography (EEG), which measures brain wave activity
You may or may not want to try this. Let me know if you do. Personally, I’m just not sure about it. And while it may help, nothing works as well as diet and exercise. But we’re talk about that next time!
Image Credit: Photos.com