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Fibromyalgia and complementary treatments

Some people with fibromyalgia find complementary treatments and therapies can help to relieve their symptoms of pain and fatigue.

Always tell your doctors if you are planning to try a new complementary medicine in case it interferes with existing treatment.

The NHS warns that there's limited scientific evidence of benefits from alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and herbal remedies in treating fibromyalgia.

Can acupuncture treat fibromyalgia?

With acupuncture, a practitioner inserts one or more dry needles into the skin and underlying tissues at specific points. Gently twisting or otherwise manipulating the needles causes a measurable release of endorphins into the bloodstream. Endorphins are the body's natural opioids. In addition, according to acupuncture practitioners, energy blocks are removed. Removing them is said to restore the flow of energy along the meridians, which are specific energy channels.

Studies show that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry. It appears to do this by changing the release of neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters stimulate or inhibit nerve impulses in the brain that relay information about external stimuli and sensations such as pain. In this way, the patient's pain tolerance is increased. One acupuncture treatment in some patients may help alleviate chronic pain for several weeks.

What is electroacupuncture?

Electroacupuncture is another way of stimulating the acupuncture points. It uses a needle connected to small wires that deliver small electrical currents. Heat - moxibustion - and massage - acupressure - can also be used during this electroacupuncture process.

Laser acupuncture is yet another offshoot of this alternative therapy. While it uses the same points, there are no needles involved.

There are precautions to take if you want to try acupuncture. First, make sure you find a qualified and experienced acupuncturist. Also, make sure the acupuncturist uses only disposable needles.

There are multiple styles of acupuncture. The style used depends on where the practitioner studied. For instance, Chinese acupuncture depends on larger bore needles and the practitioner may be more forceful with moving them. Japanese acupuncture uses thinner bore needles with a relatively gentle approach. You will need to find the style that suits your fibromyalgia needs.

How can chiropractic treatment help fibromyalgia?

Chiropractic care is a very common complementary treatment for fibromyalgia pain. People use it to treat the pain of pressure points, back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, headaches, and pain from musculoskeletal injuries. Chiropractic may be effective for fibromyalgia because it helps improve pain levels and increase cervical and lumbar ranges of movement.

Chiropractic is based on the principle that the body is a self-healing organism. To reduce pain and increase healing, the chiropractic practitioner uses spinal adjustments. The goal is to increase the mobility between spinal vertebrae, which have become restricted, locked, or slightly out of correct position.

Chiropractors do this by using hand movements. With gentle pressure or stretching, multiple gentle movements of one area, or specific high-velocity thrusts, the adjustments are said to help return the bones to a more normal position or movement. This return is said to relieve pain and reduce ill health.

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