Fibromyalgia is a disorder marked by chronic musculoskeletal pain and fatigue. Approximately three to six million people in the US are affected by fibromyalgia of which are mostly women between the ages of 25 to 45 years. Although the exact cause of fibromyalgia is not clear, the pain of fibromyalgia may be due to low levels of serotonin. In addition, research has demonstrated that the axis connecting the three glands primarily responsible for the stress response (hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal) may be dysfunctional in people with fibromyalgia.
The primary treatment goals in fibromyalgia are to raise serotonin levels, assure adequate vitamin and mineral levels, particularly magnesium, and improve sleep quality. In addition, a whole foods diet rich in vegetables and low-intensity exercise plan is essential for treating fibromyalgia. Acupuncture is also recommended for pain relief.
Headaches may be associated with a serious medical condition, but most headaches are usually not serious. Headaches usually fall into two categories, tension headaches or migraines. Tension headaches are characterized by a gradual onset of steady, constant, dull pain or tight pressure that starts in the forehead or in the back of the head. Migraines are commonly marked by throbbing or pounding sharp pain and may include photosensitivity, visual disturbances, nausea and vomiting.
The naturopathic approach to treating headaches includes identifying the factors that trigger tension and pain, such as food sensitivities, stress, and poor posture. Other factors such as hormonal changes, nutritional deficiencies, chemical sensitivity, low serotonin levels, withdrawal from caffeine or other drugs also need to be addressed. Vitamin and mineral supplementation, herbal medicine, and acupuncture are effective therapies to reducing frequency of headaches and providing pain relief.
Low Back Pain
Low back pain is the most common reason people seek medical treatment. Common causes of low back pain include poor muscle tone, joint problems, torn muscles or ligaments, and herniated or slipped disc. Because low back pain can be due to potentially serious problems such as spinal tumor, infection, fracture, nerve damage, osteoporosis, arthritis, or pain caused by conditions found in internal organs such as the kidneys, low back pain should be assessed by a qualified health practitioner.
Low back pain may be effectively treated with lifestyle recommendations to correct posture and alignment, exercise therapy, and proper stretching. Acupuncture is highly recommended to promote blood circulation and healing and reduce pain by releasing natural pain-killing substances in the body called endorphins. In addition, vitamin and mineral supplementation and botanical therapy are often used to decrease inflammation and pain.
Menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhea, commonly referred to as painful menstruation affects over 50 percent of menstruating women. Several factors contribute to causing dysmenorrhea. These include behavioral and psychological causes; lack of blood flow to the uterus; and increased production and release of specific types of prostaglandins that cause uterine contractions and pain. Menstrual cramps may also be due to a specific abnormal pelvic condition such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, adhesions, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, congenital malformations, or polyps.
Symptoms of menstrual cramps include abdominal bloating, frequent and intense cramps, pain below the waistline, or a dull ache that may radiate to the lower back or legs. There may also be symptoms of headache, nausea, diarrhea or constipation, frequent urination, and, occasionally, vomiting. A qualified naturopathic practitioner or acupuncturist will help identify the underlying causes to your menstrual cramps by taking a comprehensive history, performing a physical exam, and ordering the appropriate lab and imaging tests. Once the cause is identified, the appropriate treatment recommendations can be made. These treatment recommendations may include appropriate dietary changes, vitamin and mineral supplementation, herbal medicine, and acupuncture to decrease uterine spasms and muscle tension.