The term fibromyalgia refers to muscle-skeletal symptoms (pain or discomfort) with a specific zone of discomfort or pain (trigger points) within the muscle. The trigger points refer pain away from the trigger area to a contiguous area.
This ailment affects between 3-6 millions Americans and is most common in women aged 30-50.
When the doctor examines the patient, palpation will show a taut band or trigger area causing pain to be radiated to another area. Trigger points may be characterized as either latent or active. The active points cause spontaneous pain without movement or with motion that stretches the muscle involved. Latent trigger points result primarily in muscle tightness with associated pain upon examination (palpation).
Fibromyalgia syndrome is a chronic pain disorder characterized by diffuse muscle soreness and stiffness associated with specific, reproducible tender points (trigger points), many times accompanied by sleep disturbances (non-refreshing sleep). When x-rays and laboratory tests are performed, they come back normal.
The treatment used with these patients are antidepressants; NSAIDs (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs); physical therapy (like spray and stretch, stretching exercises, etc.); and acupuncture.
Points used: UB 11, 17, 18, 20 and 23.
Chinese acupuncture sterile press needles (.20 x 1.5 millimeters, BN: Cloud and Dragon). The needles are covered with round band-aids (Coverlet, 7/8").
The treatment frequency is once a week for six weeks. The acupuncture needles are left for 5-6 days; the patient removes them before the next appointment so that the body has 24-48 hours without stimulation. This avoids overstimulation of the points (which will render them inactive). When the patient begins to improve, the treatment frequency is reduced to every other week.
Usually within 8-10 treatments the patient is be able to feel the improvement: pain is reduced; pain medication is diminished or discontinued; and there is improvement in the sleeping pattern and the body's energy.
This acupuncture technique has allowed us to deal with and improve a very difficult type of patient on which many other treatments have failed.
Click here for previous articles by Alejandro Katz, MD, OMD, LAc, QME.
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