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Adrienne Dellwo

Fibromyalgia or Blocked Chi? My Chinese Diagnosis

By May 25, 2008

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I'm in a rather unique situation in that I have a rheumatologist who also practices Chinese medicine right alongside the Western variety. At the same visit in which she diagnosed me with fibromyalgia, she also told me I had blocked chi at the heart.

I didn't know much about either diagnosis, so I researched them both. If you poke around this site, you'll see what I've learned about fibromyalgia. I thought it was high time I told you what I've learned about my diagnosis from the other hemisphere.

"Blocked chi at the heart" actually makes a lot of sense. Chi is energy, and it moves through the body like a river. My worst pain is in my chest, ribcage and abdomen - where this energy would essentially back up if it couldn't move any higher.

While Western medicine doesn't offer us much, Traditional Chinese Medicine (frequently called TCM), has a bit more to offer. I get acupuncture and a custom blend of Chinese herbs, both from my rheumatologist, and (at least for me - everyone is different) they've made a world of difference. I still have pain, fatigue, fibrofog, etc., but a lot less than I used to. My worst day now is about on par with my best day a year ago.

On my own, I've used guided meditation to get my chi flowing more freely, and I've also dabbled in feng shui. I don't know how much this has helped, but both practices can relieve stress, and at the very least they've made me feel like I was doing something positive for myself. I put them firmly in the "it certainly can't hurt" category.

Certainly, not everyone can find a doctor who's trained in both forms of medicine, but if you're at all interested in alternative treatments, you may want to see if you can find someone credible to give you a diagnosis from a different point of view. For help finding a practitioner, read this article from About.com's Alternative Medicine Guide Cathy Wong: How to Find a Complementary/Alternative Practitioner.

Have you considered alternative medicine? Have you had an experience with alternative treatments? How did it work? Share your experiences here or in About.com's Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome forum.

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May 30, 2008 at 4:02 pm
(1) VaBreeze says:

I have found a female physician nearby, who deals with accupuncture and fibro. I’m currently getting nerve blocks for pain from an injury. Once this is over, i’m definitely going for accupuncture to help with the all over body pain and fatigue. I’ve had accupuncture before and know it works well.

May 30, 2008 at 5:18 pm
(2) Sophie says:

Dear Children, there is a “Honeymoon” period with any new treatment. It is because you want it to help so much that it changes your mind into beleiving it has helped. I am do beleive that my fms started in childhood some 60 years ago.

May 30, 2008 at 9:00 pm
(3) chronicfatigue says:


While certainly the placebo effect is a real one, acupuncture is far from a new treatment for many people and it has a growing body of Western scientific evidence behind it. Brain researchers are even using it, along with functional MRI, to measure pain response.

I was actually quite surprised at what acupuncture did for my fibro pain. I started it for myofascial pain syndrome and didn’t expect anything beyond some relief from radiating pain patterns from the MPS. When my fibro pain levels dropped, I falsely attributed it to another treatment, which I later had to drop because of side effects. When the pain didn’t come back I was perplexed. I started researching acupuncture as a fibromyalgia treatment and found out it’s becoming more and more common and helping a lot of people. You’ll find more information in the article linked above.

I started acupuncture back in September and the Chinese herbs more than a year ago, and when I go without either I notice consistent changes in my health. For me, and for many others, these are not placebos.

May 31, 2008 at 8:14 pm
(4) Katherine says:

Hi Adrienne and fellow readers,

I had a question about the custom herbs you were talking about. When you say custom, is she giving you a mixture from plants she has there or is she giving you herbs from bottled formulas. I am curious because I was trying herbs that my doctor recommended from bottled formulas but had no luck.

Thank You,


May 31, 2008 at 8:26 pm
(5) Katherine says:

I’ve been through energy/emotional therapy and it has helped me with having a new perspective on my pain. I am still in pain but the therapy has been instrumental in allowing me to sort out my life and overcome the stress that blocked my energy and caused my stomach and just about everything else to ache. Also, I have improved with having my own room to sleep in, taking Vitamin D as I was really low and medicine to boost my blood pressure which was also low. Now I get proper sleep, I am not dizzy and my bones do not ache. I feel refreshed and my adventurous nature is coming back to me. My husband actually said to me, “Welcome back.” I am content with life and looking to push myself through the pain, out of my comfort zone and on to a new season. I felt like sharing this because I have the new perspective on FMS that you are talking about as I hope to not let this illness have control of me.

June 2, 2008 at 3:05 pm
(6) Adrienne - Your Guide to FMS/CFS says:


My doctor orders custom herb blends from an herbal pharmacy. I didn’t notice much from them at first, but over time they started to have an impact. They’ve helped me the most with mood regulation, water retention, inflammation, and this weird, intense heat I used to get all through my body. When I don’t take them, I definitely feel it!

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