Jenn McGrath from Points to Wellness shared that Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) affects an estimated 2 percent of the population. Fibromyalgia is characterized by chronic widespread pain, a heightened and painful response to pressure, insomnia, fatigue, memory loss, mood swings, digestive problems and depression. Anyone who is female or has a family history of fibromyalgia or a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) or rheumatic disease (i.e. lupus) has an increased risk for the disorder.
Symptoms often begin after a physical or emotional trauma, but in many cases there appears to be no triggering event. It is diagnosed when there is a history of widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum duration of three months. To aid in diagnosis, there is a map of 18 specific points on the body prone to pain. To qualify for an official diagnosis of fibromyalgia, a patient must experience pain in 11 out of the 18 sites when pressure is applied.
While not all affected persons experience all associated symptoms, the following symptoms commonly occur together — chronic pain, debilitating fatigue, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, depression, joint stiffness, chronic headaches, dryness, hypersensitivity, inability to concentrate (called “fibro fog”), incontinence, irritable bowel syndrome, numbness, tingling or poor circulation in the hands and feet, painful menstrual cramps or restless legs syndrome.
Research shows that up to 90 percent of people with fibromyalgia have turned to complementary or alternative medicine to manage their symptoms. Acupuncture, in particular, has become a popular treatment choice and has been shown to be an effective treatment for fibromyalgia.
According to acupuncture and Oriental medicine, pain is seen as a disruption of the flow of Qi within the body. The disruption that results in fibromyalgia is usually associated with disharmonies of the Liver, Spleen, Kidney and Heart systems. The Oriental medicine theory of pain is expressed in this famous Chinese saying: “Bu tong ze tong, tong ze bu tong” which means “free flow: no pain, no free flow: pain.”
Oriental medicine aims to treat the symptoms unique to each individual depending on their constitution, emotional state, the intensity and location of their pain, digestive health, sleeping patterns and an array of other signs and symptoms. A treatment program often includes a combination of Oriental medicine modalities, including acupuncture.
Use Self-Acupressure to Relieve Fibromyalgia Symptoms
For anyone suffering from fibromyalgia, knowing where to apply self-acupressure may help ease some of the symptoms associated with the disorder. The most common tell-tale symptom of fibromyalgia is widespread body pain. Although each patient may describe their pain with different terms like dull, achy, piercing or burning, the one commonality between them is the constant, unrelenting experience of discomfort.
It is important to recognize that psychological stresses can play a significant role in the presentation of fibromyalgia. Employing self-acupressure can help one regain emotional well-being and better control the onset of symptoms. For best self-acupressure results, apply gentle yet firm pressure from your middle-finger as you make tiny circular motions. This may be done as little as once a day or as much as once every hour.
Here are a few areas self-acupressure can be applied to provide symptom relief:
Yintang – located between the eyes, at the level of the eyebrows. This point is renowned for its ability to soothe anxiety and promote a general relaxation of the body. Stimulation of this point may help with obsessive and unproductive thoughts.
Ear Shen Men – located on the upper portion of the ear in the triangular fossa, nearly a perfect fit to gently place a fingertip and press. The name of this point speaks for itself, stimulation here brings the potential for great relief from any kind of physical and/or emotional pain, metaphorically allowing the patient to enter “heaven.”
Ren 17 – located in the center of the chest at the level of the fourth intercostal space, at the same level as the nipples. This is a great point to help relieve the sensation of rising anxiety and help the body physically relax as well.
Pericardium 6 – located on the side of the arm, four finger widths from the wrist crease and between the two tendons in the middle of the arm. Gentle pressing can help promote a sense of well-being and relief from nausea.
Stomach 36 – located about four finger widths down from the outer eye of the knee, then over about the width of the middle finger from the shin bone. This invaluable point is known for its ability to promote general wellness by stimulating the immune system, stopping pain anywhere in the body and calming the shen. “Calming the shen” refers to the stabilization of negative mental and emotional states.