Fibromyalgia (FMS) - A Chinese Medicine Perspective
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterised by fatigue, pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons, and multiple tender points on the body. While the exact cause remains unknown, there is evidence that people with fibromyalgia may be more sensitive to pain because of a malfunction with the body's usual pain perception processes. More women than men have fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia, while different for everyone who has it, tends to come and go throughout life. Although it can be debilitating for some people, it is not degenerative or life-threatening, and symptoms can be managed with professional and self care.
Signs and Symptoms
• Widespread pain and stiffness
• Tender points throughout the body
• Fatigue or trouble sleeping
• Paraesthesia (tingling)
Western Drug Therapies
Your Patients presenting with fibromyalgia (FMS) may already be taking some of the following drugs:
• Low doses of tricyclics or SSRI's.
• Analgesics e.g. non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
• Muscle relaxants.
• Pain in specific spots in muscles may be treated with lidocaine or procaine (injected into points where pain is greatest) or with capsaicin (used topically).
Fibromyalgia is not recorded in traditional TCM literature. Although modern TCM literature tends to classify fibromyalgia as a type of bi syndrome (impediment syndrome), FMS has its own unusual characteristics, such as a complicated and varied symptom picture and the involvement of a wide range of organs and locations in the body. Hence, treatment approaches differ considerably. Most pattern differentiations, however, stress the involvement of the liver as shown in this pattern differentiation by Dr Liu Ying Chun of the TCM department, Xian City Number Five Hospital1 (refer to the case studies below for examples of how patients with these patterns may present).
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*Reproduced with kind permission from Health World Limited – Australia and New Zealand
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