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One in 20 may be suffering from the little understood condition of fibromyalgia

August 2018

wasp on a finger
Acupuncture is being looked at to help sufferers of fibromyalgia

One of the big problems with fibromyalgia is its name. If it was known as Sag for instance, then it would become much more recognisable and talked about.

Yet Fibromyalgia syndrome has been estimated to affect up to one in 20 of our entire population. Even worse, while the condition has been medically researched, proven and recognised, the symptoms can be wide and varied so that even sufferers may not realise they have the problem.

Generally Fibromyalgia (let’s call it FMS) can cause pain all over the body. It can cause increased sensitivity to pain, extreme tiredness, muscle stiffness, headaches and even problems with memory and concentration. Pain caused by FMS can itself be very varied, from a general ache to a burning sensation to even a sharp stabbing pain in a particular area. Symptoms can be similar to those of arthritis.

While research has been going on globally, the exact causes are still not known. However, it is generally accepted that changes in chemicals within the central nervous system play an important part in developing the condition. Changes in specific hormones such as cortisol, serotonin and dopamine are especially implicated. These changes may occur naturally or as a result of specific incidents such as a traumatic injury or stress. The death of a partner has been mentioned as a possible trigger to the condition. Because of the varied symptoms of the condition, there is no one treatment or indeed cure. Many different treatments and medications can be recommended to alleviate the conditions and specialist help from rheumatologists and neurologists can also play a part. One of the newer treatments that is being talked about as a breakthrough by some researchers is the use of acupuncture for fibromyalgia. Interestingly, a group of scientists at Turkey’s Ataturk University Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department has produced a report showing how acupuncture improves two key biochemical markers involved in the condition.

Their use of acupuncture increased levels of serum serotonin while also simultaneously reducing Substance P levels.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter involved with mood and pain regulation, and the Turkish team cites independence research that shows that fibromyalgia patients have lower levels of serum serotonin.

Substance P is a neuropeptide involved in pain sensitivity and depression, and the team’s report states that excess levels of Substance P could well play a role in fibromyalgia, especially as this Substance P ahs an active role in pain perception.

In the team’s final study of 75 participants, it showed that those who underwent acupuncture not only experienced significant improvements quickly, but also most of the improvements continued at the three month follow up. The conclusion was that acupuncture could be an effective treatment for many patients suffering from fibromyalgia.

Obviously before going down this path you need to consult your medical practitioner and there is lots of information on the net including at Fibromyalgia Action UK: www.fmauk.org


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