I've been at this for just a little while, and I will have to admit that I cringe almost every time that I see the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia on a patient's profile. Muscle pain, weakness, extreme fatigue, morning stiffness, depression, insomnia, (and more) are often the self-reported symptoms that a person explains as I do consultations in my office. The frustration and the reason I cringe is that "it" (Fibro) has kind of a big question mark ? over it. Unlike just taking someone's blood pressure, cholesterol, or blood sugar and seeing that it's unusually high, I think most doctors would tell you that Fibromyalgia is a bit more complicated to piece together as the culprit for the way a person is feeling and existing. It's typically a real struggle for a patient to go about their normal activities of daily living. Some (~most) try to be "troopers" and grin and bear it, but if they could speak candidly, I promise they would tell you that they hurt and ache significantly.
Here's a little image I pulled from the National Institutes of Health site showing the facts about Fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is a common burden in our society with an estimated 7-10 million people being affected and happening (typically) between 29-37 years old as a median age of onset. And did you know that, nine out of 10 of those with Fibromyalgia are women? Yes, 90% are women. Just stop and think about the implications of those statistics on families, careers, and activities. WOW! These young people really haven't got time for the pain!
Fibromyalgia was probably described in the 17th century as "muscular rheumatism", but didn't really get as much attention in medical circles as we have today, or get it's name "Fibromyalgia" until the mid-1970's. Perhaps this is mostly because the most distressing symptom, pain, cannot accurately be measured or quantified. Although one can't put an objective measuring stick on the pain level, he/she can recognize other characteristics and contributors to Fibromyalgia that may help for the long haul in wellness and health. After reading this blog, I hope you will realize that there may be underlying reasons for the pain which need to be investigated and addressed. Treating symptoms with band-aid medicines doesn't really help with the root cause and often ends up with poly-pharmacy situations with one medicine counteracting another. Truth!
The most common symptoms of fibromyalgia are muscle pain, typically in the shoulder or upper arm, and often accompanied by sleep disturbances. Early morning awakenings, feeling tired and unrefreshed, as well as mood and cognitive disturbances are reported. Trigger points related to erythrocytes and skin blood flow have been studied and patients getting injections of lidocaine and glucose to those pain points often report reduced pain.
Muscle biopsies in those with longstanding Fibro have a common finding of Type II fiber atrophy (google for info). Patients also typically have hormonal imbalance with elevated values of ACTH, FSH, and cortisol, but lowered levels of thyroid hormones and estrogen. I have many patients with Fibro who seek help with hormonal and thyroid problems because it helps in reducing their pain. Most patients with Fibro also complain of insomnia and sleep difficulties. Melatonin may be altered, but backing up into the metabolic system even more, most patients are found to have lowered serum serotonin and tryptophan which are essential in forming melatonin. Without the precursors, the active can't be formed appropriately. Also, I'm sure you're making the connection to lowered serotonin and depression as well. Lowered serotonin typically results in lowered mood, poor sleep, fatigue, and the general blah's. Are you seeing the links? Sometimes natural therapies can be added to a vitamin and supplement regimen to help compliment the serotonin levels, which then boosts the melatonin levels, which also helps with sleep, which also helps with.... see what I mean?
I've also mentioned in other blogs a treatment that I customize for combatting pain and inflammation at the cellular level. That's treating things at the root cause right there. Low dose naltrexone is currently being used in clinical studies, but is also available through sources and professionals like me. Why wait? Check out www.lowdosenaltrexone.org for more information about this effective and upcoming treatment agent for this and a host of other conditions, including autoimmune disease and cancer.
Here's another critical link that we are aware of today in modern medicine. In patients with Fibromyalgia, there is often an infectious root. You mean this might be related to an infection process??? Yes! Infection! Mycoplasma, viral (Hepatitis), bacterial (Chlamydia), and fungal (candida, Cryptococcus, asperigillus) infections are found as single, double, and triple infections, in some cases with incidence of up to 80% at times. You may have been exposed to these things, didn't know it, and never made the connection to your pain. If you suffer from Fibromyalgia, have you ever had an infectious disease work-up? ...... No? Then get with your doctor ASAP! Not just a general, "do I have an infection panel?", but get a very specific panel to test for infections that we now know are linked to Fibromyalgia disease. An anti-microbial protocol (antibiotics/probiotics/vitamins) might be your answer to helping to eliminate the pain and discomfort of Fibromyalgia. Get to a doctor that knows what to look for on the infectious disease side of the Fibromyalgia diagnosis. The evidence is speaking for itself and I encourage you to do your own homework on infections as a cause.
Certain nutritional supplements are a MUST in helping to support a healthy GI tract, in boosting immunity, and in bolstering the body system as a whole for improved well being. And remember, hormonal imbalance, low brain transmitters, and poor adrenal function can all affect Fibromyalgia symptoms and severity. Call me on those! I'm always ready to do things to help you in the areas that I have training and experience with and I can point to you even more resources on integrative and effective approaches that I customize in our lab for patients. I have a network of great physicians that I can recommend for those wanting more answers to their Fibromyalgia needs.
To your good health,