Date Published: 18 December 2006

Multi-disciplinary approach to fibromyalgia treatment

Over 10 Million Women Affected with Fibromyalgia in the USA

Is this a Fact or is it "All in the Head?"

With over 10 million women affected with Fibromyalgia Syndrome in the prime of their life many suffer and struggle from FMS for years before being correctly diagnosed. This debilitating disease affects women and men in an approximate ratio of 20:1. The problem begins between 20 – 30 years of age and symptoms usually appear between 20 - 55 years of age. Because there are no laboratory or x-ray examinations to physically prove the presence of this disease many are convinced by their doctors that it is "all in their heads" making the symptoms of this condition even worse. However, today "Fibromyalgia is now recognized as one of many 'central' pain syndromes that are common in the general population." *1

What is Fibromyalgia ?

The characteristic symptoms of fibromyalgia syndrome include widespread pain, fatigue, sleep disorders, depression and distress. To fulfill the criteria of having a Fibromyalgia Syndrome diagnosis, sufferers must have widespread pain present in at least 11 out of 18 fibromyalgia tender points (well-defined body areas) for at least 3 months.

Fibromyalgia Treatment Options

The cause of fibromyalgia syndrome still remains uncertain and very few sufferers completely recover from the symptoms of FMS. Hence, a wide variety of interventions are used in the management of Fibromyalgia today with "no clear consensus on the treatment of choice… many individuals afflicted by FM frequently use alternative therapies, indicating dissatisfaction or ineffectiveness with traditional medical therapy."*2

Fibromyalgia alternative therapies are generally perceived to be more "natural" and, as a result, have fewer adverse effects.

Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia Treatment

In a study of 29 patients, all reported reduced pain and tender spots with acupuncture. The acupuncture group, after treatment, required far more pressure on tender points to produce pain while the use of pain killing medication was virtually halved, as was the patients' assessment of regional pain levels. There was also a significant increase in quality of sleep. The length of time morning stiffness was experienced only improved a small amount. The fact that there are virtually no side effects from electroacupuncture make it attractive when compared with pain killing and/or antidepressant medication. *3

Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist, Dr. Martin, has found acupuncture relieves fibromyalgia symptoms. He stated,

" Our study was performed on patients with moderate to severe fibromyalgia. It is my speculation that if acupuncture works for these patients with recalcitrant fibromyalgia -- where previous treatments had not provided satisfactory relief -- it would likely work for many of the millions of fibromyalgia patients."

" Acupuncture could fill a gap in available therapies for the disease as something additive to what medications already can provide," said Dr. Martin.

" There is no cure available, so patients are often left somewhat frustrated by continuing pain and fatigue," he said.

" Acupuncture is one of the few things shown to be effective for these symptoms. It may be particularly attractive to patients who are unable to take medications because of intolerable side effects." *4

What You can Do to take Charge of your Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Multidisciplinary approaches work best in the management of the physical and mental aspects of Fibromyalgia Syndrome. Treatment should be individualized based on the target symptoms, and disability. Patience and a positive attitude on the part of the physician, along with involvement of patients and their families will enhance improvement. Using a combination of fibromyalgia self care and exercise techniques, alternative and integrative therapies, exercise, a healthy diet and nutritional supplements will take you on the road to recovery. You are not alone in your search to combat Fibromyalgia Syndrome. Open a dialogue with your doctor or health care professional to discuss various options and strategies to overcome your fibromyalgia symptoms.


  1. Therapy Insight: Fibromyalgia--Different Type of Pain Needing A Different Type of Treatment. Posted 07/12/2006 Daniel J Clauw Nature Clinical Practice Rheumatology.
  2. Physical Therapy Modalities in Management of Fibromyalgia Author: Gur, Ali, Current Pharmaceutical Design Volume 12, Number 1, January 2006, pp. 29-35(7).
  3. Rheumatol Int, 1998; 18: 35-6.
  4. David P. Martin, et al "Improvement in Fibromyalgia Symptoms With Acupuncture: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial" Mayo Clinic Proceedings 2006;81 (6):749-757.

With Thanks to contributing author:
Ms. Leela Fraser is a contributing writer for The Fibromyalgia Treatment Center (BFP) a patient-owned company with a team of multidisciplinary physicians, with health, fitness, and nutritional professionals as consultants. She can be reached at:

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