Unraveling the Mystery of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia breaks down as FIBRO: from fiber or fibrous – tissues. MY: from myo – meaning muscle. ALGOS: from algia – meaning pain. IA: meaning state of, or condition. Fibromyalgia simply means a condition which is characterized by pain in the muscles and soft tissue fibers of the body.According to a paper published by the American College of Rheumatology, Fibromyalgia affects up to 18 million – or as many as one in 20 Americans. Up to 90% of those diagnosed are women between the ages of 40 and 60 years old.

Chronic widespread body pain is the primary symptom of Fibromyalgia. Most people with Fibromyalgia also experience moderate to extreme fatigue, sleep disturbances, sensitivity to touch, light, and sound, and cognitive difficulties. Many individuals also experience a number of other symptoms and overlapping conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, lupus, restless leg syndrome and arthritis.Many Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) patients have been previously diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Diagnosis of FM can be difficult.Currently there are no laboratory tests available for diagnosing Fibromyalgia. Doctors must rely on patient histories, self-reported symptoms, a physical examination and an accurate manual tender point examination. This exam is based on the standardized American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria. Proper implementation of the exam determines the presence of multiple tender points at characteristic locations.

It is estimated that it takes an average of five years for an FM patient to get an accurate diagnosis. Many doctors are still not adequately informed or educated about FM. Laboratory tests often prove negative and many FM symptoms overlap with those of other conditions, thus leading to extensive investigative costs and frustration for both the doctor and patient. Another essential point that must be considered is that the presence of other diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, does not rule out an FM diagnosis. Fibromyalgia is not a diagnosis of exclusion and must be diagnosed by its own characteristic features.

To receive a diagnosis of FM, the patient must meet the following diagnostic criteria: (1)Widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum duration of three months. (2)Tenderness or pain in at least 11 of the 18 specified tender points when pressure is applied.

Hormone imbalance is another important factor contributing to Fibromyalgia. As women approach peri-menopause in their early 30’s to late 40’s, hormone levels of DHEA, estrogen and testosterone decline. Excessive stress can accelerate the decline in adrenal hormones, testosterone and estradiol leading to an increase in inflammation.

The adrenal glands are located on the top of each of the kidneys. Adrenal glands contribute to the production of many hormones, including cortisol, DHEA, steroid hormones, neurotransmitters norepinephrine, epinephrine, and others.

When women are under physical, emotional or environmental stress, cortisol is released from the Adrenal glands in response to stress.When the adrenal glands become chronically stressed over time there is a decline in production of cortisol that leads to an increase in inflammation. The symptoms of menopause can be worsened by adrenal stress as more and more of the female hormones come off of the adrenal gland as a woman approaches menopause.Glucocorticoids produced by the adrenal gland help regulate blood sugar.When blood sugar is too low symptoms of hypoglycemia can occur, affecting Fibromyalgia symptoms.

Since Fibromyalgia symptoms may have a different cause or combination of causes in different people, treatment protocols may be variable for individual FM sufferers. Different FM sufferers may have different results with the same treatment. There are no specific medications for Fibromyalgia and all too often FM patients end up in pain management as a last resort.

There are some nutritional options that have been helpful. Reducing the number of simple sugars (carbohydrates, table sugar, high fructose syrup, etc.) in the diet helps support the adrenal glands and manage blood sugar that may reduce the symptoms of Fibromyalgia. Restoring normal adrenal function with Magnesium Malate has been studied in treating FM. Malic acid is important in the body’s energy production; the muscle fatigue of FM may be reduced when therapeutic doses of Magnesium and Malic acid are used over a reasonable treatment duration. Balancing hormones naturally using Bioidentical hormones can be very good in treating adrenal stress and its resulting complex of symptoms. I have been helping women for over a decade balance hormones naturally and have much experience in this area. Supporting your immune system is also important, taking natural products from places such as Quantum Health can help tremendously.

I continued for the next five months to search for relief. In that time I saw at least five more doctors, including rheumatologists, orthopedic surgeons, a podiatrist, sports medicine specialists, pain management specialists, and several ER physicians, as well as trying massage therapy, if you are getting this be sure the person doing it has gone to a professional massage therapy school. Even with strong painkillers, no one was able to alleviate my discomfort for more than a day. I had all but given up hope of ever living a normal life when in May, my massage therapist suggested that I attend one of Dr. Bolick’s workshops on Fibromyalgia.

Help reduce FM inflammation with omega-3 fatty acids.It is important to maintain an appropriate balance of omega-3 and omega-6 (another essential fatty acid) in the diet, as these two substances work together to promote health. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, and most omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation. An inappropriate balance of these essential fatty acids contributes to the development of disease while a proper balance helps maintain and even improve health. A healthy diet should consist of roughly 2 – 4 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. The typical American diet tends to contain 14 – 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids, and many researchers believe this imbalance is a significant factor in the rising rate of inflammatory disorders in the United States.Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids. They are essential to human health but cannot be manufactured by the body. For this reason, omega-3 fatty acids must be obtained from food. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut, other marine life such as algae and krill, certain plants (including purslane), and nut oils. Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s), omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function as well as normal growth and development.

There is a new non-invasive test for Fibromyalgia that may produce relief of symptoms that could last days, minutes or even weeks. Available for the first time in Florida, it will now be offered at The Bolick Clinic. People who respond well to the test are typically good candidates for this new treatment regimen. Even if you think you know all about Fibromyalgia, you will learn something new, as this has never been available in this area. If you have had failed courses of medical treatment, chiropractic or otherwise you definitely want to come and get tested and see if this is right for you.

The Bolick Clinic in Maitland will be hosting a FREE Workshop on Fibromyalgia Wednesdays in July. Please call 407-641-0279 for info.