If it hurts all over maybe it’s Fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia has no known cure with conventional medicine but I believe Traditional Chinese Medicine has a very interesting point of view in diagnosing and treating this challenging condition.
More than 3 million people are diagnosed with fibromyalgia in the US each year. Muscle pain and fatigue is the struggle people have with fibromyalgia (fye-bro-mye-AL-ja). It “hurts all over” is the main complaint I hear in the clinic. Pain and tenderness can be experience throughout the whole body.
Palpating about 18 Symmetrical points can be tender with fibromyalgia. Specific points on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs can hurt when pressed.
In addition to pain and fatigue, people with fibromyalgia may also experience:
- Difficulty sleep
- Digestive discomfort – (bloating, gas)
- Morning stiffness
- Memory issues (sometimes called “fibro fog”)
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Painful menstrual periods
- Numbness or tingling of the hands and feet
- Restless legs syndrome
- Temperature sensitivity
- Sensitivity to loud noises or bright light
Fibromyalgia can last for years and be a lifelong health challenge. Some triggers include physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. Not all cases are alike, but I do find there is a strong emotional component connected to fibromyalgia that is specifically unbalancing to the liver system.
Removing toxins is one important function performed by the liver. Mental-emotional stress can release a storm of stress hormones and natural chemicals in the body that needs to be cleared. Chronic stress burdens the liver system to a point where the liver is unable to clear toxins. These toxins spill out into the muscles instead of being removed as waste from the body resulting in muscle pain. Based on what I see in my clinic this theory makes sense.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) says emotions are a strong destabilizer for liver function. Anger, irritability and frustration are typical emotions expressed when liver function is not flowing smoothly. As toxins buildup, the liver becomes overheated – toxic. I relate feelings of irritability and frustration to a pressure cooker building up internal pressure energetically that can lead to explosive energy patterns.
These rising patterns can be expressed as anger and manifest into migraines, headaches, upper body pain and tension and eye problems just to name a few. If you want to read more about the energy patterns of emotions and how the impact your health get my free ebook called – 7 Emotions – A Guide to Emotional Balance.
There are a few common diagnostic patterns in TCM for Fibromyalgia:
Spleen Qi Deficiency – In TCM, the Spleen is a term more appropriately understood for digestive function along with the stomach and can be better referred to as the spleen-pancreas. Qi is the vital life force that all body function depends on for optimal health. How is your qi (energy)? The typical symptom experienced for Spleen Qi Deficiency is fatigue. Diabetics often are diagnosed as having Spleen Qi Deficiency.
Patients with fibro often complain of digestive problems. Some irritants in the digestive system might not be felt but are better discovered with GI testing or the F.I.T. test – such tests, which are done here at the clinic, can discover irritants in the digestive tract like bad bacteria, fungus, inflammation, low digestive enzymes, unhealthy probiotic levels and more.
Identifying specific irritants helps identify specific therapies to better target treatment.
Liver Blood Deficiency – in TCM energetic terms, Liver energy needs to flow and spread out smoothly. We can observe liver qi by observing emotions. Steady, calm, alert and relaxed states show an even flow to liver qi. Irritability and frustration shows the qi is stagnant or stuck and not spreading out which can lead to overheating.
Think of body function as boiling water. Stress is like cooking with high heat which will cause the water to boil away too fast. Think of blood as the water in this analogy – blood deficiency due to excess rising energy (heat, stress, overworking, poor blood building diet, heavy periods, emotional storms, lack of restorative sleep). This rising, hot energy boils way the body’s natural resources.
Mental-emotional health is something to take care of with such liver imbalances. Mindful self-care practices such as tai chi, chi kung, meditation and other stress management techniques can be very helpful.
People often seek out acupuncturists for meditative practices because of their understanding of natural energy flow within the body.
Additional therapeutic methods include acupuncture, diet therapy, Chinese herbal medicine and whole food supplements which can nourish blood, clear heat, eliminate toxins and improve liver function.
Digestive problems are common with fibromyalgia. Patients may have difficulty even digesting known beneficial foods, herbal formulas and supplements. When digestive difficulties are present, the first step is to improve digestion before using specific food or herbal therapies to address fatigue and pain.
Kidney Yang Deficiency – Typical symptoms involve fatigue, like the diagnosis of Spleen Qi deficiency, but on a deeper level combined with cold sensations. Patients with Kidney Yang deficiency have chronic complaints of feeling cold.
Kidney yang energy naturally diminishes with age but mental-emotional stress can rapidly drain this internal warming energy and lead to rapid aging.
The Kidney system, in TCM, corresponds to the endocrine system in modern medicine. It is responsible for growth and development – think hormone production by glands such as the pituitary, penial, thyroid, thymus, pancreas and ovaries/testicles.
Chronic stress unbalances health by draining away these important natural resources internally. The body is growing every day. Body cells die and are replaced with new body cells.
Ensuring optimal health, including good sleep, diet, exercise and stress management and other natural self-care fundamentals, will offer the body a greater ability to repair and rejuvenate.
Poor health habits will lead to a poor ability to heal and rejuvenate. Longevity – a long and healthy life – that’s the game. How long can you stay in the game if you better understood your personal health challenges from a natural perspective and took natural self-care measures to optimize your health?
Look for the next article on fibromyalgia titled: 4 Important Aspects for Effectively Treating Fibromyalgia
Leave a comment if you have any question.
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