My name is Kimberly Thompson, and I am a licensed acupuncturist in Meridian, Idaho. I am a fibromyalgia specialist. Are you?
What Fibromyalgia Feels Like
Recently one of my patients and I were chatting about how much her life has changed since she no longer suffers from fibromyalgia. Did you catch that?
She NO LONGER SUFFERS from fibromyalgia.
Because I’m doing a lot of writing and teaching about fibromyalgia in my doctorate program and personal research, I asked my patient to share her experience.
Here’s what Susan had to say:
“You mentioned that you are teaching about fibromyalgia today. I’d like to share my thoughts. The reality is… I had to dig deep into the memory banks to pull up this experience since I haven’t had any fibromyalgia issues in over two years.
Acupuncture was a big part of my fibromyalgia solution. The first time I met with Kimberly I was skeptical.
But I was desperate. I’d been living in constant pain for years. I was always exhausted. My muscles would scream at me if I tried to do anything out of my norm. Climbing a flight of stairs would leave me winded. But none of that was enough to push me to try acupuncture. Nope. Neither was the brain fog or chronic headaches.
What finally got me to schedule an appointment was the fact my skin hurt. Sometimes it would get so bad my hair hurt! The slightest touch or breeze was painful. I couldn’t find clothing or bed linens soft enough. I had a co-worker that used to come up behind me and slap me on the back. It would bring me to tears but I was too embarrassed to tell him about it lest it be perceived as a weakness and keep me from climbing the corporate ladder.
The worst, though, was my husband quit hugging me because he didn’t want to hurt me.
Regular acupuncture was a miracle for me. It was a process, and Kimberly had to order special needles since the regular needles were too painful due to my heightened pain receptors. I wish I’d scheduled years earlier, but am grateful I did when I did…
My husband died a few years after I started seeing Kimberly, but I did get to enjoy his hugs again before he died.
These days I live life fibromyalgia free and acupuncture is still a regular part of my routine.”
A Complex Pain Syndrome
You can see by the story above WHY I am passionate about sharing what I have learned about fibromyalgia.
I see patients like Susan on a regular basis. I can’t tell you how many patients have come back to me years later, full of gratitude for helping them overcome this “difficult complex pain syndrome” labeled as “fibromyalgia.”
Yes. Fibromyalgia is difficult. It’s difficult to live with and difficult to treat. But here is another truth…
Fibromyalgia does not have to be a life sentence!
If you are an acupuncturist, it is my opinion that you NEED to specialize in fibromyalgia. Unlike Western medical providers, you have what it takes to STOP fibromyalgia in its tracks.
Why Acupuncturists Need to Specialize
1) Western Doctors Need You
Fibromyalgia Syndrome is a complex pain syndrome that is difficult to diagnose and treat—even for Western medical practitioners. It includes a broad array of symptoms including pain, fatigue, insomnia, digestive problems, and mood disorders. Considering that the average Western medical doctor spends less than 10 minutes with each patient, they do not have time to work through the huge array of symptoms which arise with fibromyalgia patients.
What is their solution? Currently, most fibromyalgia patients are being treated by their primary care physicians with an array of pharmaceuticals to handle individual symptoms, and the plethora of side effects from excessive drug therapy (Lichtenstein, 2018).
Western doctors know that this is a problem. When I speak with Western doctors personally and let them know that I treat fibromyalgia, their eyes light up. These doctors are happy to refer patients to an acupuncturist.
In fact, according to meta-analysis, which is the research Western doctors read and accept, it is common for Western practitioners to consider a multi-dimensional treatment approach which easily incorporates acupuncture as an alternative to pharmaceuticals and the problems that stem from their side effects (Perrot, 2014).
The question is, do YOUR Western medical colleagues know who you are and that you can help take the burden off of their fibromyalgia patients? You are their missing link.
2) You are Already Doing it—for the most part
Fibromyalgia is a lot more than just pain. As stated above, it is common for these patients to present in your office with with a long history of pain, fatigue, insomnia, digestive problems, and mood disorders.
You already treat all of these extra conditions on a regular basis. With a little fine-tuning, it would not be hard for you to “specialize” in the treatment of fibromyalgia.
It is my experience that a multi-faceted treatment approach which includes acupuncture to balance the meridians, musculoskeletal work, meditation, diet, detox, and patient education is key for fibromyalgia remission.
3) Acupuncture Makes Sense
A New Fibromyalgia Patient
It is very typical for my treatment room to be a last resort for fibromyalgia patients. These patients have tried everything…
They typically start out with their primary care physician, then they move on to every other type of doctor they can think of—internist, neurologist, allergist, rheumatology, orthopedist, physical therapist, chiropractor, massage therapist, TMJ specialist, psychiatrist, etc. They also have a huge list of current medications with an array of EXTRA unwanted side effects.
You can imagine how this patient feels when they sit down in your treatment room—in hopes that you might be the miracle they are looking for.
The AcuGraph Experience
AcuGraph often makes these patients cry…
These are not typical tears. These are tears of joy! AcuGraph analysis and the report-of-findings is the perfect way to help your patient see that you understand what they are going through.
- From a Chinese medicine perspective their symptoms make sense.
- The patient finally feels validated. They are not CRAZY!
- You can show them that you have a solution to to help them.
- Finally, they have ONE doctor who can manage all of their symptoms.
Often the graph is really out of balance—kind of like this:
NOTE: It may not look exactly like this particular graph. The point I am trying to make is that often there will be a LOT of imbalances. Every patient presents differently. *This is a new fibromyalgia patient.
I do an in-depth first treatment visit which includes a full evaluation and graph analysis.
Let me give you an example of how even explaining ONE acupuncture pathway ties a huge number of the patients symptoms together—thus giving the patient HOPE.
In the “Fibromyalgia Patient” graph above you see that the Small Intestine (SI) is deficient.
I’m able to click on the graph and show the patient how my treatment will affect the external pathway, the muscular pathway and the internal pathway. Recognize the symptoms which could be involved from this pathway alone…
- Ears: Ringing in the ears, ear ache, tendency toward ear infection.
- Jaw: TMJ, tooth grinding, dental problems
- Muscular pain: Temple headache, jaw, ear, neck, scapula, shoulder, elbow, wrist, finger
- Eye: Vision, dry eyes, itching eyes, burning eyes
- Heart: Palpitations, insomnia, anxiety, pressure in the chest
- Digestion: Gut issues, food allergies, constipation, acid reflux, IBS
This is a new analysis for the patient. They are not used to having medical provider see their body as a whole instead of compartmentalized into small segments.
Obviously I have only analyzed one portion of the graph for the sake of today’s conversation. If you were my patient I’d do a full analysis and send you home with a report of findings explaining how the imbalances on the patient’s graph lead to symptoms.
4. The Difference YOU can Make will be Generational
If you can make a change in one person, you not only impact their life, you impact everyone influenced by them throughout their lifetime—even through to the next generation. Resolution of fibromyalgia includes treatment of the symptoms, but it also demands a focus on lifestyle awareness for the patient, which is then mirrored into the family.
Learn More about Treating Fibromyalgia with Acupuncture
Like I said earlier, fibromyalgia is not easy to treat. But it’s worth it. Once you become a fibromyalgia specialist, you will be sought out by Western medical doctors in your community and patients who REALLY need you.
That’s when miracles like this begin to happen…
She NO LONGER SUFFERS from fibromyalgia.
I am a fibromyalgia specialist. You should be one too. And I have an AMAZING resource to help you get there! At the 2019 Acupuncture Growth Symposium I taught an entire course on fibromyalgia and acupuncture.
The course is called Beating Fibromyalgia with Acupuncture, and it’s laser focused on using acupuncture to get great results for your patients. In addition to learning some amazing things, you can get 1 CEU credit through NCCAOM and California for watching this course!
I hope this blog post, and my course help you get on the right track to becoming a fibromyalgia specialist! Please reach out if you have additional questions for me!
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 208.846.8448!
Dr. Kimberly Thompson
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