What is Fibromyalgia Syndrome?
Fibromyalgia is a musculoskeletal disorder that causes pain all over the body - in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. A unique symptom of fibromyalgia is that pain is most acutely felt during rest periods.
Fibromyalgia can occur in people of any age and it is more common in women than men.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia
Symptoms can vary from person to person but generally the entire body aches with overall fatigue much like when suffering the flu. Sleep disturbances are another common symptom of fibromyalgia.
Causes of fibromyalgia
The exact cause of fibromyalgia is not known.
It's likely that a number of factors contribute to the development of fibromyalgia. Such as:
- Accidents & injury
- Development of other disorders affecting the body
- Sleep disturbances
These triggers probably do not cause fibromyalgia but it is thought they could awaken a physiological abnormality that was already present but previously dormant or unnoticed.
Improving sleep quality and limiting pain, is the primary goal.
Deep level sleep is necessary for the healthy functioning and repair of the bodily systems.
At Mount Merrion Physiotherapy, we use two approaches (sometimes combined) in the treatment of fibromyalgia
The first is a NST (neurostructural integration technique) which is a systematic spinal and soft tissue manual therapy technique used to alleviate pain, sedate overactive muscles and improve wellness. As a technique it has a resetting or recalibrating effect on the central nervous system which allows for the restoration of a functional homeostasis i.e. it restores balance or ‘equilibrium’ within the nervous system.
The other is Medical acupuncture which has been proven very effective for treating fibromyalgia.
Traditional treatments often prescribe medicines to increase the body's level of serotonin and norepinephrine - neurotransmitters that modulate sleep, pain, and immune system function. However, medical acupuncture can produce similar results in most cases and often without the need for such medications.
A case study
The following extracts are taken from a case report by
Simon Coghlan, Clinic Principal.
… Once the appropriate points have been located and accurately defined, the clinician must then decide on the best mode of stimulation if using an acupuncture approach. When considering the results of a recent systematic review, electro-acupuncture has been shown to be of benefit to those suffering from FM. Symptomatic relief has been obtained even at intensities sufficient to elicit muscle contraction. In this case study it is possible that the introduction of electro-acupuncture had a negative effect and may have been responsible for the aggravation of pain and fatigue symptoms. Electro-acupuncture is a stronger form of stimulation. It is also more difficult to titrate the electro-acupuncture dose given when compared to manual acupuncture. It is therefore my opinion that electro-acupuncture should be used with care especially in fibromyalgia patients who are likely to be sensitive as the risk of over treating and eliciting an adverse reaction is possible. …
… In this case a good response to treatment was achieved by supplementing a commonly used medication (amitriptyline) for fibromyalgia with acupuncture. It was only once the acupuncture treatment began that more significant improvements to pain and fatigue symptoms began to take place. Having recently spoken to Mrs. C’s GP regarding her progress she intends to discontinue the amitriptyline for a period to prevent a tolerance effect. It will be interesting to monitor her symptoms during this period to determine whether acupuncture alone can be as effective. …