It’s Saturday morning, and all you want to do is sleep. You’ve already canceled your plans to head out to Southern Village Farmers Market. Your swollen lymph nodes aren’t getting better, despite all the effort you’ve put into overcoming chronic fatigue. As you lie back down, your smartphone starts buzzing with incoming text messages. One friend tells you to feel better, while another suggests trying TCM. A quick Internet search reveals that TCM stands for traditional Chinese medicine, but you still frown. How could TCM relieve your swollen and sore lymph nodes?
What Is CFS?
Since you’ve been struggling with chronic fatigue syndrome for over six months, you’re already somewhat familiar with CFS – a disease that affects three out of every 1,000 Americans. You happen to be one of the unlucky ones. No medical professional or amount of online research can explain why you were diagnosed with CFS.
Possible reasons for getting diagnosed with chronic fatigue include:
- Nutritional deficiency
- Immunity dysfunction
- Stress on the HPA axis (where the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands interact)
- Abnormally low blood pressure
Before diagnosing you with CFS, your primary care physician conducted various tests to rule out other conditions, including sleep disorders and medical problems such as diabetes, anemia and hypothyroidism.
Individuals with CFS often have four or more of the following symptoms:
- Short-term memory or concentration problems
- Sore throat
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Poor-quality sleep
- Brain fog
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Balance problems and dizziness
- Tender and swollen lymph nodes, usually in the armpits or neck
Dealing with a combination of these symptoms has made it impossible to go back to your normal active life.
Swollen Lymph Nodes
Think of lymph nodes as your health’s bodyguards. Lymph nodes are clusters of cells (lymphocytes and macrophages) that capture viruses, germs and foreign substances. These are broken down before they can do harm and are eliminated from your body.
Each group of lymph nodes is designed to drain a particular body area. Since CFS is poorly understood, its relation to lymphadenopathy – the medical term for swollen lymph nodes – is also unclear. However, some research has linked immune system problems to CFS, which could explain swollen and sore lymph nodes in some individuals diagnosed with chronic fatigue.
Don’t forget that swollen lymph nodes can indicate an infection or another medical problem. Even if you’ve already been diagnosed with CFS, it’s still important to consult a physician to rule out other possible conditions – especially if your immune system might not be functioning at its best. Your physician may order other tests, such as:
- Blood tests, including liver function tests, kidney function tests and complete blood count
- A lymph node biopsy
- A chest X-ray
- A liver-spleen scan
Using Traditional Chinese Medicine
Grounded in the ancient philosophy of Taoism, TCM dates back to over 2,000 years ago. TCM is said to treat illness while optimizing health and enhancing the body’s capacity for healing.
Top-notch integrative medicine clinics offering TCM can develop treatment plans that include various practices such as:
- Acupuncture, which involves inserting fine needles into specific body locations to correct energy imbalances, promote blood flow and release tension
- Herbal formulas that combine medicinal plants with immunomodulating, antiviral and antibacterial properties
- Qigong, which integrates posture, breathing, focused intention and movement to boost physical and mental health
- Acupressure, which uses pressure instead of needles on acupuncture points
- Cupping, in which cups filled with heated air are positioned on painful body areas
- Yoga, meditation and other relaxation techniques
Acupuncture for Swollen Lymph Nodes
According to the British Acupuncture Council, acupuncture can help over 60 conditions, including chronic fatigue. While the mechanism of acupuncture remains unclear, the stimulation of nerve fibers that send signals to the brain and spinal cord could trigger the release of hormones that block pain. This could help correct the energy pathways that flow throughout the human body.
Since acupuncture is often used to alleviate CFS, you may wish to try treating your chronic fatigue symptoms (including your swollen lymph nodes) with TCM.
Acupuncture Balanced Health
Acupuncture Balanced Health is dedicated to reducing all of your CFS symptoms and improving your quality of life by integrating Western and Eastern medicine into an individualized treatment plan. Our team of experts includes traditional Chinese medicine physicians and a board-certified physician with in-depth knowledge of integrative medicine and acupuncture research. You shouldn’t have to keep on canceling plans or calling in sick to work, so contact us today and request a free introductory acupuncture treatment.