May is Fibromyalgia Awareness month. Fibromyalgia is a seriously misunderstood disease, mainly because many sufferers may not “look sick.” This is why Fibromyalgia Awareness Month is so important: as a so-called “Invisible Disease,” not a lot of people take it seriously. Also, it can be difficult to explain how fibromyalgia affects us: the constant, chronic pain, the fatigue, the fibro fog. This condition does not result in any physical damage to the body or its tissues and there are no laboratory tests which can confirm this diagnosis.

Fibromyalgia is a lifelong condition that affects about 5 million Americans. People with it have sore, stiff muscles, but nothing odd shows up on X-rays or most lab tests. According to the National Fibromyalgia Association, women between 25 and 60 have the highest chances of developing fibromyalgia. Doctors aren’t sure why, but women account for 75 to 90% of those who are diagnosed with the disorder, but the disease can also occur in men and children. The hallmark of fibromyalgia is muscle pain throughout the body. The pain can be so debilitating it can interfere with everyday tasks and completely overtake patients’ lives. Up to half of all people with fibromyalgia have depression or an anxiety disorder when they’re diagnosed with fibro. Fibromyalgia affects all ethnic groups equally. By the age of 80, around 8% of people meet the criteria for fibromyalgia from the American College of Rheumatology.

There is no cure and few treatment options for fibromyalgia at present, so the treatments aim to relieve pain and improve well-being, to help patients adapt to the condition. Treatment is centered on managing the symptoms of the syndrome and making life more comfortable for those who live with fibro. Both acupuncture and traditional medicine have a place in treating fibromyalgia. A combination of Western as well as traditional Chinese medicine probably offers the patients the best possible therapy. Research shows that acupuncture is an essential piece in fibromyalgia management, as many as 90 % of people with fibromyalgia have turned to alternative medicine to reduce various forms of pain.

Individual studies have suggested that acupuncture has become a popular treatment choice and have the following benefits for people with fibromyalgia:

• Immediate pain reduction,
• Improved overall well-being,
• Reduced pain sensitivity,
• Global improvement of symptoms.

Acupuncture aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual depending on their constitution, emotional state, intensity and location of their pain, sleeping patterns and an array of other signs and symptoms. Therefore, if 10 people are treated with Oriental medicine for fibromyalgia, each of these 10 people will receive a unique, customized treatment with different acupuncture points, and different lifestyle and dietary recommendations. Acupuncture helps your body find the potential to heal itself.

If you would like to consider using acupuncture as an alternative therapy for fibromyalgia, talk with your doctor first. Look for a licensed practitioner who has experience treating people with fibromyalgia. This process requires a great deal of knowledge and the skillful hands of an experienced and licensed acupuncturist. Fibromyalgia Awareness Month means we should make the most of every opportunity for people to share their stories and raise awareness of the common symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. Sharing facts about fibromyalgia can help educate the public about what it’s like to live with the condition.