4 KEY THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT FIBROMYALGIA
Many of our clients come in to see me after their internist or rheumatologist diagnosed them with FIBROMYALGIA. Sadly the client has either been given drugs to numb their pains or psychoactive drugs to numb their minds so they won’t “feel” the pains as much. Neither approach leads to a high quality of life.
Let’s try to put this relatively new “dis-ease” into perspective. It’s estimated 5 – 8 million adults (male and female, but predominantly female) are affected. The word FIBROMYALGIA comes from Latin, fibro-, meaning “fibrous tissues, Greek myo-, “muscle”, and Greek algos, “pain”; putting it altogether the term literally means “MUSCLE AND CONNECTIVE TISSUE PAIN”.
This new disease was discussed way back in the 1970’s but we didn’t really start hearing about this in the mainstream until the mid 1990’s.
THE CAUSE OF FIBROMYALGIA IS UNKNOWN
There is no single test that can fully diagnose fibromyalgia. That opens the door for an ongoing controversial debate. It’s one of those diseases where there is no one certain CAUSE. It is basically a “medically unexplained syndrome” – a group of symptoms that is up for debate as to what causes those symptoms! Not the best foundation for medical drug “treatments”, in my opinion.
Yes… people with “fibromyalgia” have widespread pain that lasts for more than 3 months and have numerous tender points, fatigue, sleep disturbances, cognitive symptoms (brain fog or “fibro-fog”), decreased serotonin/dopamine, muscle twitches, nerve pains, headaches, tingling in extremities, morning stiffness, ADD/ADHD symptoms, and depression, etc.
Drugging the person with medications that have numerous side effects or worse putting the person on psycho-active drugs that mentally and emotionally change the person and turn the person into an addict is just not my idea of healing.
Ok… so let’s say you’ve been given the dreaded diagnosis… or maybe you just assume you have FIBROMYALGIA because you suffer with most of the symptoms… what do you do?
4 KEY POINTS TO KNOW ABOUT FIBROMYALGIA
The first this to know is that there is NOT one single cause for all of your symptoms. Therefore there is not a single remedy to improve or remove your symptoms. We know that stressful or traumatic events in a person’s life, having repetitive injuries, long term illnesses, and certain bacteria (Epstein Barr virus, Mycoplasma, heavy metal toxicity, SIBO – small intestine bacteria overgrowth), and having autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, MS, Lupus, Crohn’s, IBS) etc. can all contribute to the onset of symptoms. Of course we now know that the Epstein Barr virus is what contributes to all autoimmune diseases.
The second thing to know is that your endocrine system (I’m talking about your hormones here!) is intimately related to your physical issues. When your hormones are imbalanced the aches and pains that can accompany that imbalance can almost put a darn elephant down!
Estrogen and progesterone can go out of whack (Estrogen Dominance) or you can have straight estrogen deficiency… both situation can cause extreme neck and shoulder pains, headaches, joint pains and tons of emotional symptoms (crying easily, outbursts, depressed, no joy). Lack of DHEA and/or Testosterone will also cause lots of aches and pains in your joints and create lack of motivation (just don’t feel like getting up and going…). If your adrenal glands are wearing out your level of cortisol will be down and you can have pains so bad you might want your doc to give you a dose of morphine! Your back will hurt, you’ll have tons of morning stiffness, trouble sleeping, and your feet touching the ground will hurt. And lastly… your thyroid… When your thyroid is underactive, or when it fluctuates up and down (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) specifically your neck will be stiff, you’ll have headaches, your wrists and thumb joints hurt, your heels and feet will hurt and your fatigue will be overwhelming. Sounds just like all the FIBRO symptoms, doesn’t it?
The third thing to know is that your diet and your accompanying poorly functioning digestive system is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT in improving your symptoms. Most people have no real concept that what they eat affects their health. You probably eat your food so fast you don’t even see it! You may think, “I don’t eat fast food, ever. I eat as healthy as I can!” What you don’t realize is that every food you eat that is in a box, bag, jar or can IS FAST FOOD!!!!! You just didn’t go through a drive-thru!.
The SAD diet (Standard American Diet) is chocked full of chemicals, preservatives, food colorings, carcinogenic substances, genetically modified food substances, etc. If you go down the aisles at the local grocery, you’re eating junk. If you stay on the outer rim of the grocery you’re eating much better and cleaner.
Food allergies, food sensitivities, chemicals and GMO’s all contribute to skin issues, headaches, aches and pains, brain fog, depression, extreme fatigue, and destroyed intestines that cannot absorb nutrients properly leaving the body deficient in key nutrients. Getting your body tested for food allergies/sensitivities can save you tons of money and grief… you’ll know exactly what foods to avoid that contribute to your issues.
Because of poor diets our bodies are nutritionally deficient. If you’re low on Vitamin D3 you’ll have aches and pains, autoimmune diseases, sleep issues and emotional problems. If you’re lacking B vitamins you will have aches and pains, moodiness, lack of energy, etc. Lack of vitamin C can cause muscle and joint pains, weakness, easy bruising. Lack of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) causes infection in mouth, chapped lips, migraines, poor immune system. Lack of vitamin B1 (thiamin) causes neurological diseases, leg ramps, wasting of muscles, weakness, emotional disturbances, nightmares, panic attacks, etc.
Are you getting the idea that vitamins and nutrition are important to this whole issue of FIBROMYALGIA?
The fourth thing to know is that your emotional environment plays a huge role in this “dis-ease”. Many people living with fibromyalgia can trace their symptoms back to a traumatic event in their lives.
Any type of trauma or stressful event, such as major surgical procedures, being deployed to war, loss of a loved one, divorce, childhood separation or trauma, living through a war, major accidents, chronic stress, and certain types of infections, can all trigger fibromyalgia.
In our office we can say that 50% of women who complained of fibromyalgia symptoms also mentioned in counseling a major life traumatic event that happened at least 1-5 years prior to the onset of symptoms. Finding this moment in their life was key to their recovery. The other 50% had major life stressors happening “right now” in their lives: troubled/unhappy marriages, divorce, death in family, business failing, overbearing boss, children out of control, affair, etc.
All trauma leads to ANXIETY. A number of studies have shown a link between anxiety and fibromyalgia. In fact one study concluded, “Fibromyalgia is not a disease, but is rather a chronic pain condition bought on by several abnormal body responses to stress.” It’s a Catch-22… chronic stress causes chronic pain and illness which in turn causes chronic stress…
Handling your stress by creating for yourself a little “emotional tool box” of exercises to do mentally and physically to help you deal with and remove anxiety is important. Getting your neurotransmitters balanced is also key in helping to overcome stress.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO RID OF YOUR BODY OF FIBROMYALGIA?
- Get tested thoroughly. If you go to your normal medical doctor he will not be able to do a full battery of tests to determine the underlying causes of your symptoms. He might check your basic labs, run a few antibody tests, check your TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), check for trigger points of pain, check for arthritis, inflammation and Lupus. You need much more than this. You will ALSO need: a thorough thyroid panel run correctly, check for numerous viruses, along with gut function and neurotransmitter testing, food allergy testing, saliva hormone panels, Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis and full bacterial serum testing that includes a correct Epstein Barr Virus panel to get to the bottom and determine the CAUSE of your symptoms.
- Holistically balance your hormones with bio-identical hormones, balance your body chemistry with high quality supplements based on testing and work on killing/removing any bacteria or yeast or parasites found in test results. Both adrenal hormones as well as thyroid hormones have been implicated in the cause of FIBROMYALGIA symptoms. Most medical doctors do not test the thyroid gland thoroughly enough to get a clear picture. Adrenal hormones should ONLY be tested with saliva testing for accuracy.
- Fix your diet! Diet really is not a short-term thing… DIET is your WAY OF LIFE! Learning how to eat for health instead of eating for social and enjoyment reasons is vital to recovery. Getting tested properly (we have a simple blood spot test where we prick your finger and check 93 foods) and following those guidelines is MANDATORY. Literally don’t bother with anything else if you don’t do this step! You HAVE to know what you can eat that will not affect your body in a negative way. Removing ALL animal products will be called for. All animal (meat, dairy, fish, eggs, etc.) contribute to inflammation in the body.
- Handle your anxiety and stress. Maybe some counseling is in order so you can learn tools for handling life. Learning how to breathe properly can go a LONG way in relieving stress and anxiety. We do have a few supplements that will support increasing your neurotransmitters (serotonin and dopamine) that help to take the edge off anxiety. I ALWAYS suggest for my clients to start exercising. The less you move the more pain and fatigue you’ll feel. Exercise helps you to sleep better, and reduce your need for pain meds and improves your mood. We can help direct you to correct exercise programs that might assist you: walking, strength training, yoga, stretching are the best.
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