Neurological Conditions

Can Acupuncture Help Fibromyalgia?

by Mary Vincent, L.Ac.
Fibromyalgia is a common disorder of the central nervous system which manifests as a vast array of physical and emotional symptoms in the affected individuals. It affects more than 5 million people in the US alone, is more likely to occur in adults between 20 and 50 years old, and is far more common in women than men. There is no specific medical test that can detect fibromyalgia, but rather it is diagnosed based on the following criteria:
▪ Widespread body pain which presents as a specific and recognizable pattern in those affected. This includes having pain in all 4 quadrants of the body (both sides of the body and above and below the waist), and tenderness at at least 11 out of 18 specific trigger points. It can also be associated with an increased sensitivity to light and sound. The majority of people with fibromyalgia find themselves very stiff after sleeping or prolonged inactivity (this typically improves with movement). Pain can often be worse in cold and damp weather and during times of increased stress
▪ Difficult or disordered sleep patterns, often referred to as non-restorative sleep (one sleeps “lightly” and does not wake feeling rested or refreshed).
▪ Memory problems and/or difficulty concentrating.
▪ Significant and ongoing fatigue.
Other symptoms and coexisting disorders often found with fibromyalgia include:
• Irritable Bowel Syndrome
• Interstitial Cystitis
• Anxiety and/or depression
• Chronic tension headaches and/or migraines
• Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
• Tingling of the hands and feet
• Painful menstrual cycles
The causes of fibromyalgia remain unclear, and there is no known cure for the disorder. Symptoms are typically managed with a wide variety of over the counter and [...]

Migraines

By Nicole Murray, L.Ac.
Migraines are intense pounding headaches that can last from hours to several days. About 12% of the US population suffers from these debilitating attacks. The pain is often on one side of the head, and there may be extreme sensitivity to light, movement and sound. In some cases, people may also suffer nausea and vomiting. This is a neurological disease, and ranked among the world’s top 20 disabling diseases.
Researchers don’t fully understand the cause of migraines, but are studying the theory that drops in serotonin levels during attacks may affect the pain response in the brain. The Mayo Clinic reports that up to 90% of people with migraines have a family history of these headaches. Women are three times more likely than men to suffer migraines.
There are numerous triggers for migraines, including:

Food and drink, e.g., caffeinated beverages, alcohol, chocolate, and MSG.

Dehydration or skipping meals.

Hormone fluctuations.

Stress.

Anxiety

Lack of Sleep

Loud sounds, bright lights, and strong odors.

Medications

Illness/infections.

‘Classic’ migraines come with a warning sign or “aura,” such as flashing lights, colors,  partial vision loss, or muscle weakness. “Common’ migraines are not preceded by auras.
Migraine symptoms include:

Intense throbbing or dull aching pain on one side of your head or both sides

Pain that worsens with physical activity

Nausea or vomiting

Changes in how you see, including blurred vision or blind spots

Being bothered by light, noise or odors

Feeling tired and/or confused

Stopped-up nose

Feeling cold or sweaty

Stiff or tender neck

Lightheadedness

Tender scalp

Conventional Treatment
Doctors typically prescribe medication to prevent the attacks and/or to relieve symptoms. Acupuncture and other stress management strategies such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and biofeedback may reduce the number and severity of migraine attacks. For overweight patients, weight loss may be helpful.
Acupuncture
We treat migraines frequently [...]

Bell’s Palsy

by Mary Vincent, L.Ac.
Bell’s palsy is one of numerous disorders causing weakness and/or paralysis of the facial muscles, and is estimated to be responsible for at least 80% of cases. It is diagnosed when all other more serious conditions (e.g., stroke) have been ruled out. The exact cause of Bell’s palsy is unknown, but most scientists believe the inflammation of the facial nerve (7th cranial nerve) is caused by a viral infection.
Bell’s palsy is named for Sir Charles Bell, a 19th century Scottish surgeon who was the first to describe the condition.
When Bell’s palsy occurs, “the function of the facial nerve is disrupted, causing an interruption in the messages the brain sends to the facial muscles” (NIH). This results in facial weakness or paralysis, almost always affecting only one side of the face.
Functions of the nerve include: closing and blinking the eyes; tear production; frowning; raising eyebrows; smiling; salivating; and flaring of the nostrils. The facial nerve also carries sensations to the middle ear and the anterior 2/3 of the tongue.

Symptoms of Bell’s palsy typically come on rapidly. Often a person awakens in the morning with drooping on one side of the face, having gone to bed with no issues the night before. Due to the many functions of the facial nerve, in addition to drooping on one side of the face, signs and symptoms may include:
▪ Inability to raise eyebrow, to wrinkle forehead, or to smile on affected side

▪ Inability to close the eye on affected side
▪ Inability to produce tears in affected eye or continuous tearing
▪ Loss in ability to taste
▪ Pain in and/or behind the ear
With no treatment, most people will begin [...]

Tension Headaches

By Mary Vincent, L.Ac.
Tension headaches are the most common type of all headaches, and definitely one of the most common issues we see here at BCA. These types of headaches occur for a variety of reasons, and are often described as mild to moderate pain that includes a squeezing, throbbing, or feeling of pressure at the temples or in a band around the head. Occasionally patients will also report pain behind their eyes. These headaches almost always include tight and painful muscles at the back of the head, the base of the skull, and/or in the upper trapezius muscle (the “upper shoulders”). Women are twice as likely as men to experience tension headaches on a regular basis.

Tension headaches are broken down in to two categories: episodic and chronic. Episodic tension headaches occur less than 15 days a month, while chronic tension headaches occur more than 15 days in a month. Typically though, most people who suffer from these types of headaches tend to get them around 1-3 times a week. The most common causes of tension headaches include:
▪ Emotional/Mental Stress–This is the most obvious reason and causes many a tension headache. Difficulties at work or at home, major life changes (new job, loss of a job, a new baby, ect.), and a history of anxiety and/or depression are often the root causes of these nagging headaches.
▪ Poor Posture–this is one of the major things we see in the clinic related to tension headaches. People in professions that spend many hours working on a computer each day are probably the #1 type of person we treat with these types of reoccurring headaches, generally related to their chronic, poor daily posture while working.
▪ Poor Sleep–A [...]