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Does Fibromyalgia Really Exist?

According to the Mayo Clinic:

Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues.

Women are much more likely to develop fibromyalgia than are men. Many people who have fibromyalgia also have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), anxiety and depression.

While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, a variety of medications can help control symptoms.

From a patient perspective fibromyalgia is often described as pain from head to toe; pain that waxes and wanes from day to day and persists regardless of medical treatment. Pain can be further described as deep muscular aching, shooting, throbbing, or pounding, and can be unbearable at times. Morning stiffness is common as is whole body aching most prevalent in the morning. Repetitive movement can increase pain and leads one to refrain from exercise which results in lack of physical fitness that causes the symptoms to become worse. Severe fatigue is a chief complaint. Fatigue of such intensity makes it difficult to accomplish daily tasks, hobbies, and in some cases remain employed. Some complain of having heavy arms, legs or head “as though weighed down by cement”.

Unfortunately, in the medical community there are so many combinations of symptoms that could be diagnosed as fibromyalgia that the conclusion is either drawn all too quickly and medications prescribed that often don’t do anything to help. Or… doctors put patients through batteries of tests and are not able to come up with an accurate diagnosis. So they say- fibromyalgia. Why not?

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective fibromyalgia does not exist!

In 20 years of study I’ve found that certain TCM syndromes are responsible for all the symptoms of what doctors tend to categorize as fibromyalgia. Other symptoms may accompany any of the following patterns of imbalance and may occur in any combination. Patterns are differentiated according to tongue and pulse diagnosis.

  • Dampness. Dampness is characterized by a feeling of heaviness, dizziness, poor appetite, stuffy chest, excessive mucus, and generally poor health.
  • Qi Deficiency. Qi deficiency* can result in fatigue, dull roaming aches and pains, abdominal distension, loose stools, poor appetite, dizziness, pale face, weak voice, sweating with little exertion.
  • Blood Deficiency. Dizziness, palpitations, insomnia, poor memory, paleness, fatigue, fixed pains, sharp pains, dry skin, dry hair and scanty periods are indicators of Blood Deficiency**.
  • Disharmony of the Heart and Spleen. People with Spleen/Heart deficiency tend to be forgetful, have poor concentration, feel very fatigued and are always worrying about something.
  • Disharmony of Heart and Kidney. People with a Kidney/Heart disharmony can have ringing in the ears, dizziness, palpitations, weakness in the low back, night sweats, mental unrest, and get flushed easily.

The Liver plays a huge role in the patterns of disharmony mentioned above and is in a state of Imbalance when those patterns are exhibited. Although other TCM practitioners would suggest that a Liver imbalance is ultimately the cause of fibromyalgia, given the ease with which certain emotions can incur the deficiencies mentioned above, I contend that it is the deficiencies in other organs that lead to Liver imbalance which causes anxiety, sadness, and/or depression.

So, you see, all of the symptoms of fibromyalgia can be explained, or even predicted according to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. There’s no mystery here!

If you or someone you love has been suffering with fibromyalgia symptoms it would be advisable to consider what Traditional Chinese Medicine can do to help. All patterns of imbalance are manageable*** with herbs, Asian bodywork and acupuncture. Make an appointment with an experienced TCM practitioner in your area and- get your life back!

* Qi Deficiency/ Qi Stagnation. These are the signs of Qi Deficiency and Qi Stagnation combined, more specifically Spleen Qi Deficiency since it is quite common. Other organs can become Qi deficient as well.
** Blood Deficiency/Blood Stasis. Signs of Blood Deficiency and Blood Stasis are grouped together for the sake of simplification.
*** Manageable. Given that Chinese herbal supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA prohibits me from saying they may treat, cure or prevent any disease.