Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fibromyalgia, flares, acupuncture

Our speaker for the August 9th Mishawaka Fibromyalgia Support Group was Dr. James Keating of Preventive Medicine, PC on Edison Rd, in Mishawkaka, IN. The most impressive factor of this particular place of healing is the fact that they do not perform any singular type of treatment. This of course, is right up our alley! I don't think there are many folks with Fibromyalgia who will be helped by any singular treatment, whether it is a prescription, supplements, chiropractic, exercise or what have you. Dr. Keating is also right up our perverbial alley, as he is not only a chiropractor, but also a fully licensed acupuncturist.

As Dr. Keating and his co-speaker, Nick Bello, came into the room, the topic being discussed was our ever-unpredictable "flare." We all have them. Some more than others. And for some it seems like they live in a permanent flare! Having heard a bit of our discussion, Dr. Keating asked if everyone in the room had experienced massage therapy (which they also offer at Preventive Medicine, PC). There were nods and shakes all around, and an eye-roll or two. He nodded too, knowing exactly what the eye-rolls were for.

He proceeded to explain that there are a number of different kinds of massage treatments. Sports massage, which is basically for healthy folks who have had a hard work out and need to "loosen up" their muscles. There is deep tissue massage, involving deep penetration of the massager's fingers at the tender points where the muscles are knotted up, with the intention of loosening these rock hard knots and thereby relaxing the muscles. (This often involves pain - which we get for free, no payment involved.) And then there is the gentle, soothing and relaxing massage (sometimes involving herbal oils & ocassionally soft music) which releases both painful toxins and helpful endorphins, thereby helping to ease pain.

Dr. Keating recommends the latter for anyone with Fibromyalgia, most especially for anyone experiencing a Fibro-flare. Coming in for a massage while you're in the flare is a very wise thing to do, he says, because this can ease up the flare considerably before it takes hold and grows roots (lasting a long time)! One of the reasons Prevention Medicine, PC impressed him as an employer is that they leave time slots open for new patients, and for "emergency" or immediate help for someone in urgent need, such as someone in a flare! He has found that massage is usually the most helpful for the immediate care of a flare. Some may prefer chiropractic or acupuncture, however, and so these are also available for "urgent help," as are hot moist heat applications, and electrical muscle stimulation. This latter is something like exercising your muscles without your having to move. The electrical stimulation machine sends impulses through your muscles to relax and contract them, bringing endorphins to the surface for pain relief. All of these treatments can help right away during a flare.

Everyone was familiar with, and had experienced chiropractic manipulation, but when Dr. Keating asked if we were familiar with acupuncture, one in our group said, "no." She had been apprehensive about the needles. He explained, then showed her the needles and assured her that these are NOT the same kind of needles that are used when you receive an injection. They are about the size of a cat whisker, and are not hallow but solid, and also surgically sterilized, of course. She asked the next logical question, which was, "Where do you put them? "

Well of course, the acupuncturist decides where to place them depending on the issue being treated - over-all pain, fibro-fog, stomach issues, hormonal-type issues, headaches, back pain, etc, etc - and according to the meridian (pathways of energy) being affected. He also decides whether 5 needles are enough, or 55 are required. Whatever the case, after the needles are placed, they usually remain in place for about 15 minutes. These needles also release endorphins, which not only help pain but also leave one feeling very "mellow."

An interesting fact revealed by Dr. Keating was that as each tiny needle is removed at the end of the session, and the tiny hole begins closing up, this action begins a healing cascade by your body. The needles had been treating your own natural immune response as they interacted with the meridians. And now your body begins releasing healing chemicals to each needle site (meridian point) that continues working for the next several days at each of these tiny (seemingly insignificant-sized) "holes." And so these meridian points are receiving healing for more than just those 15 minutes! In other words, acupuncture actually releases your body's own healing energy. Amazing!

One member mentioned that her doctor had recommended that she should have a specific (rather serious) surgery, and she asked if acupuncture could help this condition. His response, and we all agreed vigorously, was that practically speaking, his recommendtion is, "For any non-immediately-life-threatening condition, his rule of thumb is to try everything non-invasive first, THEN consider the pros and cons of surgery." In other words, what could it hurt to try chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, electrical stimulation, etc first, BEFORE surgery? It could save you money, time, pain, recuperation, possible infection, and so much more. As I said, we all agreed completely with his wise words.

Dr. Keating referred back to the subject of "flares," explaining that alopathic doctors, (our western medical physicians) have only a very few recourses to help a flair. They are 1) to write a Rx for pain and 2) write another Rx for an anti-inflammatory (inflammation also creates pain). Acupuncture works in a wholly different way. It helps control pain through 1) enabling your body to release its own endorphins, 2) helping to balance the tension/tone of the muscle, and 3) stimulating the above mentioned healing cascade, that your body performs. There are no pills involved here, or any side-effects, or any precautions mixing unfavorably with other meds you may be taking, plus you have the benefit of that mellow feeling afterwards.

And, of course massage helps quite well in its own way by breaking up and helping to release painful toxins, releasing beneficial endorphins (your body's own morphine) into your body to help the pain, and to gently massage the muscles to ease pain.

Nick Bello then reminded everyone that if you are in a flare, you can call Preventive Medicine, PC and almost always be able to make an appointment within 24 hours, so that it can be "nipped in the bud," so to speak, and things can begin healing much sooner! If you bring in a list of "things gone wrong," your immediate concerns and what you have been doing so far, any meds etc, they'll be able to help you much more effectively. (This is good advise for any doctor visit!) They don't run a dictatorship - they WILL talk with you. They will Listen to you. This alone is worth a visit! *:)

Dr. James Keating can be reached at Preventive Medicine,PC on Edison Rd, in Mishawaka, IN. 574-254-1400. He is available for Chiropractic treatments and Acupuncture treatments.