WHAT IS FIBROMYALGIA? According to the National Fibromyalgia Association, fibromyalgia is a chronic illness characterized by serious muscle aches, pain and stiffness, soft tissue tenderness, fatigue and sleep problems. Patients often report pain in their neck, back, shoulders and hands. Research shows between three and six percent of the U.S. population is affected, 90 percent of them women.
Undiagnosed patients who suffer from the symptoms are frustrated because medical tests come back normal. Doctors are equally as frustrated and often tell patients they have to learn to live with the pain.
IS IT FIBROMYALGIA? The American College of Rheumatology gives the following criteria for diagnosing fibromyalgia:
HOW IS FIBROMYALGIA TREATED? Patients often travel to many doctors before they feel their illness has been correctly addressed. There are a variety of options available to people, but not all work for everyone. The most popular form of treatment is through pain medication. The medications can range from over-the-counter medicine to prescriptions. Doctors can also prescribe sleeping pills for patients who need help with sleep management. Sleeping problems can exacerbate pain for some sufferers of fibromyalgia. In some cases, doctors may even prescribe antidepressants to help patients with their illness.
Alternative approaches ranging from massage, physical therapy, nutrition, yoga, herbs, chiropractic work and acupuncture have all helped in the fight to stop the pain. There have been a small number of studies that conclude acupuncture is an effective treatment. Doctors at the University of Washington are currently enrolling patients to complete a study.
PREVIOUS RESEARCH: Dr. Christoph DeLuze from Geneva, Switzerland, conducted a study of 70 patients (54 women) to determine the effectiveness of acupuncture on fibromyalgia. The patients either received acupuncture at correct points or incorrect points. Patients kept track of many factors including pain, amount of medication used before and after acupuncture, sleep quality and morning stiffness. Over three weeks, about 75 percent of the treated group saw improvements in their illness. Overall, the acupuncture group reported improvement in seven of eight areas.
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Alliance Institute for Integrative Medicine
6400 Galbraith Road
Cinncinati, OH 45236