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Understanding and Treating Fibromyalgia with Acupuncture


Fibromyalgia is a puzzling and painful rheumatic condition of unknown origin, characterized by diffuse or localized pain in skeletal muscles and related connective tissues, tenderness, and stiffness, often accompanied by fatigue. Acupuncture has shown to be effective in controlling pain in the short term for this condition.


The primary tissues affected in fibromyalgia are the muscles, making acupuncture more effective for this condition compared to diseases affecting other tissues (such as tendons or bursae). Patients with fibromyalgia often exhibit increased sensitivity in superficial muscle tissues, leading to a lowered threshold for pain known as hyperalgesia, or make it so that normally non-painful stimuli become painful, known as allodynia.


During the preliminary examination for acupuncture, the tender points in the painful areas can usually be identified with light touch. The strategy to enhance therapeutic effectiveness involves targeting these muscular tender points for stimulation, aiming to gradually "eliminate" them. The subjective symptoms of the patients improve as these tender points diminish. Due to the extreme sensitivity of most tender points, simple acupuncture often produces a strong needle sensation, which can be combined with infrared lamp irradiation for better results.


However, fibromyalgia is characterized by recurrent episodes, making it challenging to cure completely. Long-term treatment over several courses, coupled with physical exercise to improve physical fitness and resistance to rheumatic attacks, is often necessary.

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