In today’s world, fibromyalgia, or as it’s sometimes known as Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) has become one of the most common conditions doctors diagnose when it comes to our muscles, yet its cause, to date, is largely unknown. Unlike other conditions which affect our muscles and cause pain, fibromyalgia does not cause damage, deformity, or inflammation. Were it that simple, we would have a cause for fibromyalgia and doctors could pinpoint where and what the problem was. It has been considered that brain chemistry plays a significant role in fibromyalgia, causing a disruption in the brain’s ability to process pain signals.
The diagnosis of fibromyalgia is largely a process of elimination. There are no blood tests or x-rays which will confirm the presence of fibromyalgia. The bevy of tests a patient goes through serves to eliminate the possibility of the presence of other conditions. When all else has been eliminated, the patient is left with the diagnosis of fibromyalgia, and unfortunately, only a treatment plan for maintenance and not a cure. Some cases of fibromyalgia have been known to clear up completely. Others become chronic, and some go through cyclical periods where the condition worsens and subsides.
Because a diagnosis can take a long time to arrive at, or because fibromyalgia is typically misdiagnosed, it is thought that more people are living with fibromyalgia than the current number of five to six million confirmed cases in the United States alone.
Let’s take a closer look at fibromyalgia and how you can integrate simple lifestyle changes to help manage the day to day challenges fibromyalgia brings.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
As mentioned above, fibromyalgia doesn’t cause damage, deformity or inflammation. But what you can expect are symptoms that just won’t go away such as general exhaustion and fatigue, and a constant dull muscular ache, all over, generally described as burning, throbbing, shooting, and stabbing. These symptoms will vary according to the weather, stress levels, activity levels, overexertion, grief, trauma, infectious illness, or even the time of day, with pain and stiffness typically being worse in the morning.
Other symptoms include:
- Strange sensations in the skin
- PMS and painful periods
- Memory impairment
- Irritable bladder
- Skin sensitivities
- Dry eyes and mouth
- Jaw pain
- Frequent changes in eyeglass prescriptions
- Impaired coordination
Fibromyalgia is further characterized by consistent tender points. These are points on the body, when pressed firmly, cause additional pain that may not occur in someone not living with fibromyalgia. You find these points at the back of the head, between the shoulder blades, at the tops of the shoulders, front sides of the neck, upper chest, outer elbows, upper hips, sides of hips, and inner knees.
People with fibromyalgia seldom get a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling tired. It could be that the pain disallows the fall into a deep sleep, or R.E.M. sleep, that is so necessary to refresh the body. It could also be because some people with fibromyalgia suffer with other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, grinding of the teeth (bruxism), and severe, sudden muscle contractions during sleep or just as one is falling off to sleep.
However, we do know that most people with fibromyalgia also have an associated sleep disorder known as alpha-EEG anomaly. In this disorder, the individual’s deep sleep periods are interrupted by bouts of waking-type brain activity, resulting in poor sleep.
Fibromyalgia can also compromise the immune system, leading to an overabundance of viral and bacterial infections.
Hand in Hand with Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia patients often live with accompanying conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), insomnia, Lupus, osteoarthritis, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), restless leg syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) (see also the article on RA HERE).
Get Started Feeling Better Today
Although the only diagnosis for fibromyalgia is one of maintenance, there are certain things you can do to give your body a fighting chance.
Malabsorption problems are common in people with fibromyalgia. Therefore, it is important to try and obtain supplements in liquid form for better and faster absorption. Acidophilus replaces lost “friendly” bacteria destroyed in the gut; a non-dairy formula is best.
To support your body through chronic fatigue symptoms, you have to give your body the energy it needs. You can do this by:
- Eating a diet rich in raw fruits and vegetables, specifically dark green, leafy vegetables. Remember to wash them first and eat the skin!Taking
- coupled with
- which protects the heart, enhances the immune system, and provides every cell in your body with the building blocks that eventually become cellular energy used in the metabolic process. A lack of coenzyme A can result in stiff, sore muscles and a decrease in energy. Taking
- supplements; B5, known as the anti-stress vitamin, helps the body convert fats, carbohydrates and proteins into energy. You can find B5 in avocados, beef, brewer’s yeast, eggs, kidney, legumes, liver, mushrooms, nuts, pork, whole rye flour and whole wheat. Taking
- with mixed carotenoids and
- ; these are powerful free radical scavengers that protect cells and enhance the immune system.Taking
- supplement; a natural sleep-regulating hormone that is helpful for promoting sound, restful sleep. It is also one of the most powerful antioxidants known at this time.
Simple Lifestyle Enhancements
TRY AND REDUCE STRESS
Knowing that stress can bring on flare-ups, try to reduce your exposure to stress and stressful situations. You can do that by employing a few of the following techniques:
- Allow enough time for travel and parking to arrive at appointments on time
- Choose to say no more often to frequent social activities or taking on more work
- Learn to use meditation and relaxation methods
- Learn gentle physical techniques such as Tai Chi
- Choose swimming or walking, keeping movements slow and deliberate, over more vigorous forms of exercise. No exercise at all is just as damaging as an overzealous exercise regime. Remember to pace yourself.
CREATE A BEDTIME ROUTINE
Good sleep habits are as important as getting the right amount of sleep. Your bedroom should be dark and a little on the cool side. Removing all electrical appliances from your bedroom can help immensely. You’d be surprised how much a bright clock radio can affect your sleep patterns. Cotton sheets and pajamas breathe better than polyester, and if you can, leave your bedroom window open all night for fresh air.
Start winding down a full hour before bedtime; turn off the TV (no “news of the world” right before bed!), choose to listen to relaxing music and flip through a magazine or pick up a little light, inspirational reading. Listening to relaxation CD’s or mp3’s is always helpful. Stop drinking liquids at least two hours before you retire.
Learn how to use visualization techniques so that, once in bed, you can slow your mind down from the day’s intensities. One wonderful, homeopathic remedy for quieting a busy mind is Bach’s Rescue Remedy. This is a liquid you can take either right from the eyedropper or you can put a few drops into a tablespoon or so of water and take it that way.
You knew this would creep into the equation sooner or later, didn’t you? Eat healthy foods; raw, whole, living fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, plenty of water, and be careful to avoid an excess of proteins, sugars, caffeine and processed foods, all of which can throw blood sugar levels and blood pH balance out of whack.
Acupuncture is thought to cause beneficial changes in blood flow and levels of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, in the brain and spinal cord.
See your chiropractor. Restricted movement in your spine may cause pain elsewhere in the body. Spinal adjustment, among other methods, allows for a broader range of motion, and inevitably, less pain.
If you can stand it, try massage therapy. Massage works on your body’s muscles and tissues and aims to have a beneficial effect on blood circulation, especially in the muscles. If not too painful, massage is relaxing, reduces your heart rate, lessens tension, improves range of motion and increases your body’s production of natural pain killers. The only contraindications to massage are open sores, inflammation, and circulatory problems.
2. Prescription For Nutritional Healing, Fourth Edition, Phyllis A. Balch, CNC
Carol Roy is a Natural Health Practitioner who received her diploma from the Alternative Medicine College of Canada in Montreal, Quebec. With 12 years experience in her area of expertise, natural health and wellness, Carol has also trained to become a fully qualified Reiki Master, Quantum Touch Practitioner, and Reflexologist.
The suggestions by Nutter’s Bulk & Natural Foods and the contents of this article
are recommendations only and not a substitute for any medical advice or a
replacement for any prescriptions. Seek medical advice for any health concerns.
Consult your health care provider before using any recommendations herein.