One of the best things you can do to get relief from your Fibromyalgia symptoms is to see a Chinese Medicine practitioner who can give you a diagnosis based on various principles of organ health and energy flow. They can then help customize treatment approaches tailored to your individual patterns.
To give you an idea of what different patterns associated with Fibromyalgia can look like, here is a general breakdown of the most common Chinese Medicine diagnoses we see in these patients. Do you relate to any of these? Fibromyalgia patients will often present with patterns of stagnation or deficiency and in many cases a combination of both. (You can be a combination, or be dealing with a completely different pattern, but be sure to see your acupuncturist for a more precise personalized assessment!)
Liver Qi Stagnation
Stagnation often starts in the liver. The liver is the organ, in Chinese Medicine, that is responsible for the smooth flow of qi(energy) in the body. That smooth flow can be hindered by many stagnating factors, including pathogens, stress, toxins, overexertion, lack of proper sleep, and poor nutrition. The liver must contend with these and keep qi moving. Talk about a lot of pressure! As it gets hindered, so does the flow, causing more stagnation. This manifests as pain in the body along with feelings of being ‘stuck’.
Signs of Liver Qi Stagnation are:
- anger, irritability, headaches, muscle stiffness in the neck and shoulders, insomnia, restlessness, and irritable bowel syndrome (as stagnant liver qi directly affects digestion).
- The tongue will look slightly dusky or slightly puffy
- The pulse (felt at the radial artery) will feel “wiry” in some positions, like a guitar string
According to TCM, the blood follows the qi. So, as qi stagnation gets more severe, it can lead to blood stasis. This sets you up for even more intense symptoms.
Signs of Blood stasis are:
- aches and pains in the whole body, burning or gnawing pain, numbness or tingling in extremities, and stabbing headaches.
- The tongue can appear almost purple and the veins under the tongue may look distended.
- The pulse will feel wiry or even irregular
Qi and Blood Deficiency –
Usually, this refers to “spleen qi deficiency” and “heart blood and/or liver blood deficiency”. The spleen is a source of “gu qi” (the energy we get from food), which is an important part of post-natal qi, (the energy we replenish through food and air intake). It can get damaged by a poor diet or attack by an overstressed liver and leave us feeling weak and depleted. The heart and Liver have important roles in blood storage and flow. Blood deficiency in the heart disturbs the spirit. Liver blood deficiency manifests in stiff, dry muscles and joints.
Signs of qi and blood deficiency are:
- chronic fatigue, exhaustion, dizziness, dull headache, muscle weakness and numbness, insomnia, anxiety, palpitations, and depression.
- The tongue will usually look pale
- The pulse will feel thready, weak, and deep.
Kidney Deficiency (either Yin, Yang, Qi, or Essence Deficiency)
As the kidneys are the root of the pre-natal qi in the body (the energy we are born with) this can be a congenital deficiency or a result of depleting our reserves over time.
Signs of kidney deficiency can vary based on the different types but in general, there can be:
- sore lower back and knees, impotence, infertility, low libido, bladder symptoms, temperature dysregulation: feelings of cold (yang deficiency) or hot flashes (yin deficiency), or both.
- The tongue can be pale (qi and yang deficiency) or red and dry with cracks (yin and essence deficiency)
- The pulse may be thin, weak, and deep
You may recognize a combination of your own symptoms throughout these pattern descriptions, but in order to get the best-personalized care on your healing journey, get to a diagnostic expert who has the tools to help you heal!