Could You Have Fibromyalgia?

Have you ever struggled with ongoing pain that you couldn’t explain? Or hyper-sensitivity on your skin that other people didn’t seem to understand? Many people who struggle – often for years – with symptoms like these end up diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

What are the symptoms?

Fibromyalgia symptoms include aches and stiffness in muscles, tendons (which attach muscles to bone) and ligaments (which attach bones to each other). The pain can occur in any part of the body and can be widespread or localized. Fibromyalgia symptoms typically develop gradually and frequently come and go in cycles. Women tend to experience more widespread problems, while men more often develop localized fibromylagia symptoms, such as pain in the shoulder.

  • Pain. Fibromyalgia pain is often described as a deep muscular aching that is either burning, throbbing or sharp. The pain and stiffness is often worse in the morning.
  • Fatigue. The sensation of being drained of energy and unable to concentrate can vary from mild to incapacitating.
  • Difficulty sleeping. Sleep does not feel refreshing; and fibromyalgia patients report feeling exhausted when they wake up.
  • Sensitivities. About 50 percent of fibromyalgia patients report sensitivities to noise, bright lights, odors, medications and certain foods.
  • Chronic headaches. An estimated 50 percent of patients report migraines or tension headaches.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Between 40 to 70 percent of patients experience diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain and gas.

Other fibromyalgia symptoms may include dizziness or lightheadedness, menstrual cramping, jaw pain, numbness and tingling sensations, cognitive and memory problems (often called “fibro fog”), temporomandibular joint disorder, pelvic pain, restless leg syndrome, sensitivity to chemicals and temperature, and anxiety and depression. These symptoms can vary in intensity and, like the pain of fibromyalgia, wax and wane over time.

Because none of the symptoms of fibromyalgia are unique to this condition, physicians cannot make a diagnosis based on the presence of one or more of them. Instead, today’s diagnostic criteria specify that patients must have had pain in four quadrants of the body for a minimum of three months and tenderness in at least 11 of 18 specific areas called “tender points” on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms or legs that hurt when touched.

What are the causes of fibromyalgia?

New research suggests that imbalances in the nervous system amplify normal sensation, making even a slight touch feel painful. This super-sensitivity to pain appears to be genetic. Fibromyalgia does run in families, and researchers have identified one gene believed to be involved in the syndrome. Patients also have higher-than-normal levels of a neuropeptide called substance P that is involved in the communication of pain signals to the brain, and lower-than-normal levels of the pain-mitigating hormones serotonin and norepinephrine.

Even if you are born with a genetic predisposition to fibromyalgia, you still need to experience something that triggers the disorder. This can be a viral infection, emotional stress, an accident or injury or, perhaps, exposure to certain drugs or chemicals.
– via www.drweil.com

What is the natural approach to treat fibromyalgia?

For some people battling with fibromyalgia symptoms, getting on medications is an absolute necessity – often a carefully balanced cocktail that’s decided on by working closely with your doctor.

But for others, a more natural approach helps more than anything else – and allows the impact to be longer lasting. By using natural methods to reestablish balance in each of your body’s major symptoms, you’re creating a healthier environment where you’re treating the root cause, rather than just the symptoms themselves.

Each person’s situation is unique, so talking with your doctor to make sure they understand the full picture will help you both create the best possible plan.

You might take medications such as Lyrica, Cymbalta, or Savella to help treat your symptoms of fibromyalgia. While these drugs might help for a while, they are not a permanent cure. An excellent book that discusses a natural approach is From Fatigued to Fantastic! written by Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum in 2007. In the book he relates the concept of SHIN: Sleep, Hormonal imbalances, Infections, and Nutrition.

I’d like to add an E to Dr. Teitelbaum’s protocol – for Emotions. As you are aware, your emotions play a large part in the symptoms of fibromyalgia? This will now make the word SHINE. So now let’s discuss each one of these natural approaches in more detail.

Sleep.

Most fibromyalgia patients say that lack of refreshing sleep is causing them major distress. Sleep is necessary to heal your muscles and your nervous system. If you think that you might have a breathing disorder that interferes with your sleep, please see a sleep specialist. You could also take 5-Hydroxytryptophan, which has shown to improve your serotonin pathways or melatonin which aids in resetting your sleep cycle. Please talk first to your healthcare provider before taking any new supplements. There are other botanical nervines (such as chamomile, passionflower, and valerian) that have also been safely used for years.

Hormonal balance.

You can naturally balance your thyroid, adrenal, and ovarian hormones to make a difference in your symptoms of fibromyalgia. You can try gentle phytotherapy. This will work with your metabolic pathways. For the best results, you should look for products that contain botanical nervines and/or adaptogens.

Immune health.

Fibromyalgia symptoms can be caused by infectious agents (bacteria, enteroviruses, yeasts, or parasites). It’s a good idea to be sure that an infection is not present. Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus and Lyme disease are often associated with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Ask your healthcare provider if you can be tested for these diseases and treated, if you have them. You might also check to see if you have allergies that enhance your symptoms. This could be sensitivity to gluten, eggs, corn, dairy, sugar, preservatives, and food additives. Try an elimination diet to determine if that will help you. It’s always a good idea to boost your immune system and you can do this by taking a probiotic supplement.

Nutrition.

Eating whole, fresh foods (fruits, vegetables, and high-quality fats and protein) is the best way to support your body. If you are under stress, I also suggest that you take a pharmaceutical grade multivitamin and mineral complex with fish-oil. Remember that your muscles, nervous system, adrenal glands, immune system, and your body needs proper nutrition for their daily processes!

Some key nutrients that are helpful for fibromyalgia

  • B-complex vitamins for energy, immunity, nerve, and brain function
  • Magnesium for muscle energy
  • Selenium for the best immune function
  • Vitamin C for oxidative stress
  • Fatty acids, such as omega-3 to help promote cell membranes and mood
  • Vitamin D for mood, immunity, and the musculoskeletal system
  • Zinc for cell health
  • Iodine for thyroid health

Emotions.

I’ve discovered a lot of important aspects about our bodies, throughout my years of working with patients. One of the most interesting is that for each emotion we feel (both the positive and the negative) there is a biochemical signature that occurs in our bodies. To put this in clearer terms, it means that if we hide our emotions and don’t adequately express them, then eventually the emotional issues display in physical ways. There was a 1990s study done (Adverse Childhood Event Study) that found specific evidence about how negative experiences influence health. Adults can hold onto childhood memories and resort to previous behaviors that worked then. Of course, those behaviors don’t usually work for adults. If a grown person continues to engage in child-like emotions, then he or she cannot resolve core issues.

I have found that my fibromyalgia patients tend to be critical and judgmental of themselves. If they can learn to forgive and love themselves, then healing can more easily happen.
– via www.womentowomen.com

Do you ever have symptoms of pain or sensitivity that can’t be explained? Have you ever discussed the possibility of fibromyalgia with your doctor?