What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition accompanied by widespread pain, sleep disturbances, and fatigue. Common symptoms include irritable bowel syndrome, depression, headaches, painful periods, non-cardiac chest discomfort, shortness of breath, hypersensitivity to various stimuli (for example, noise, odors, bright light, and touch), urinary frequency or urgency, and paresthesias (numbness and tingling). Many patients with fibromyalgia also fulfill the criteria for the diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. Individuals who have fibromyalgia frequently live with widespread chronic pain that prevents them from doing simple tasks most people take for granted, like driving to work, going for a walk, or sweeping the floor. Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by many symptoms that don’t have any identifiable cause. Its hallmark symptoms are numerous tender-to-the-touch spots (called tender points); persistent fatigue; and pain in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These signs are often accompanied by depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances or disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, post-traumatic anxiety disorder, or memory and concentration problems –that may all contribute to poor quality of life. Additionally, it is often misunderstood or disregarded, including more problems with the physical symptoms. Fibromyalgia is among the most frequent chronic pain conditions, according to the National Fibromyalgia Association. Approximately 10 million people are affected in the U.S. and 4-6% of the global population. It affects mostly women but does occur in a small population of men and kids. Conquer fibromyalgia naturally, and you can recover from the pain & fatigue and regain a healthy life.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia produces an assortment of symptoms, pain being the most frequent.
Patients experience pain throughout the entire body, which changes from a dull ache to sharp, throbbing pain. It can also feel like knots in the belly of muscles, often causing limited movement and radiating pain. Some people report that their muscles feel like they’ve been pulled or overworked, and the skin may feel badly sunburned. These signs can be unpredictable, and many patients are frustrated with their physical constraints. Getting exercise can be difficult, if not impossible, and exacerbates the symptoms, causing the body to become weaker and more vulnerable to injury. Additionally, chronic pain, which causes poor sleep and physical restriction, often contributes to depression and anxiety.
Fibromyalgia symptoms may include the following:
Ligament and tendon pain
Brain fog or Fibro fog
Tender points all over the body
Gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD)
Causes of Fibromyalgia
The causes of fibromyalgia can vary based on each person. A thorough evaluation is done to help to ascertain the cause(s). The causes of fibromyalgia can include:
Heavy metal toxicity
Lack of quality sleep
Epstein Barr Virus
Poor nutrition, including ingestion of sugar and processed foods
Misalignment of the backbone
Mold, pesticides, and environmental toxins
Leaky gut syndrome
How to Treat Fibromyalgia
We think that finding and treating the underlying cause of the problem is the perfect solution. Frequently, fibromyalgia pain is because of an illness or toxin affecting the energy generating areas of the cells. These tiny energy manufacturing plants are known as mitochondria. We also commonly realize that the thyroid gland isn’t functioning up to par and that by merely supporting the gland, we could get people feeling better very quickly.
However, fibromyalgia is often a multifactorial problem instead of one issue and may differ from person to person. Because of this, all individual programs are individualized based on what’s needed. We have successfully treated many patients by detecting the unique, underlying causes associated with their problems.
Fibromyalgia calls for a flexible treatment approach directed at managing symptoms, learning coping methods, and enhancing life quality. Treatment is tailored to each person’s needs and considers the severity of symptoms and their associated conditions. A group of specialists could be assembled to handle overlapping ailments. An integrative treatment often involves a combination of the following approaches:
Education. Patients who are more educated about their disease have better outcomes than those that are not. Instruction should focus on the significance of self-care, the ramifications of co-conditions on symptoms, available treatment approaches, realistic treatment expectations, and consciousness that symptoms can wax and wane. Some fatigue and pain can persist despite treatment.
Physical movement. Exercise is a cornerstone of fibromyalgia therapy. A Cochrane review in 2017 reported that regular moderate exercise improves physical function and reduces fatigue, pain, and stiffness. Pain may temporarily worsen when beginning an exercise program. Patients should aim to gradually build up to three or more 30-minute sessions per week of low-impact exercises, such as walking or swimming. Even those who can not attain the recommended exercise level often find some improvement. Some people with fibromyalgia find that tai chi–which combines meditation with slow, graceful martial-arts motions –or alternative mind-body practices, such as yoga and qigong, are simpler to perform than conventional aerobic exercise. Water-based treatment and resistance training can decrease pain and fatigue, also. Make sure to clear any exercise program with your physician first.
Physical treatment. A physical therapist or physiatrist (a physician who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation) can work with people who have difficulty exercising by supplying a one-on-one approach to improving overall function and reducing pain.
Sleep hygiene. Trouble sleeping is a hallmark of fibromyalgia. People with fibromyalgia are more prone to sleep disorders, particularly sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome. Sleep is vital to many facets of physical, psychological, and cognitive function, and thus treating sleep disorders and improving sleep habits are crucial to managing fibromyalgia symptoms.
Medication. If exercise alone does not adequately manage fibromyalgia, prescription medications might help. It has been estimated that only 30 to 40% of individuals will get some symptom relief with drugs. A physician’s choice of medication and dose is primarily based on a person’s symptoms and general health, in addition to the cost. These medications have potential side effects–such as sleepiness, dizziness, nausea, constipation, headaches, fluid retention, and weight gain–and some patients can not tolerate them. Tricyclics are often not suggested for older adults due to their increased exposure to the medication’s side effects, some of which can boost fracture and fall risk.
Psychological therapy. The most researched psychological intervention for fibromyalgia is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), concentrating on how patterns of thinking affect feelings and behavior. CBT teaches patients coping strategies to manage the frustrations of living with fibromyalgia. CBT has been shown in clinical trials to help improve physical function, mood, and pain.
Complementary and alternative medicine. Some patients report short-term symptom development after partaking in chiropractic treatments, yoga, biofeedback, acupuncture, hypnosis, special diets, meditation, or various herbs and dietary supplements. Still, there is insufficient evidence to establish the efficacy of such therapies.
Conventional therapy includes medicines (muscle relaxants, antidepressants, analgesics), counseling, stress control, trigger point injections, and various physical modalities. The response to such treatments, however, has been disappointing in the vast majority of cases. Fibromyalgia puts a huge financial burden on individuals and society regarding high medical care costs, lost productivity, and disability payments.
The Integrative Medicine approach
Diet Modification: Each fibromyalgia patient is asked to go on a whole foods diet (elimination diet): avoiding refined sugar, refined carbohydrates, alcohol, caffeine, food additives, and processed foods. Many people can experience fewer aches and pains, improved energy, enhanced mood, and other positive changes.
Laboratory testing: Along with the elimination diet mentioned previously, blood tests can reveal previously undiscovered food sensitivities.
Nutritional Supplements: Several published studies have looked at different supplements with favorable benefits in fibromyalgia patients. For instance, thiamine status was reduced in 53 patients with fibromyalgia than in healthy subjects.
Hormone Imbalances: Prescribing thyroid hormone when appropriate can have dramatic effects for a few with fibromyalgia.
Correcting other hormonal imbalances such as estrogen and progesterone may also help a great deal for many patients with fibromyalgia.
A range of experts treat fibromyalgia, and lots of people with the illness work with a healthcare team, instead of a single physician, to relieve the wide array of symptoms typical of fibromyalgia.
Physiatrist for Arthritis: A physiatrist might be part of the medical team that treats your fibromyalgia symptoms.
In some instances, one specialist serves as the lead physician, coordinating care with other healthcare providers. The lead doctor might be a family doctor, rheumatologist, neurologist, internist, or another specialist. Many people with fibromyalgia are treated by primary care physicians.
A National Fibromyalgia Association online survey found nearly half of the respondents were diagnosed by a rheumatologist. When a rheumatologist isn’t the lead physician, the person may be referred to a rheumatologist to confirm a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Rheumatologists specialize in debilitating conditions that involve the joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and fibromyalgia is considered a rheumatic condition.
Treating Symptoms of Fibromyalgia and Coexisting Conditions
Frequent fibromyalgia symptoms include tiredness, stiffness and pain, sleep difficulties, and cognitive problems, but other symptoms may also be experienced. The lead physician may recommend one or more of the following specialists to help with symptoms of fibromyalgia or coexisting conditions:
Alternative medicine practitioners, like a massage therapist or acupuncturist
Physiatrist (physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist)
Physical and/or occupational therapist
Treatment by at least one of these specialists could be short term or long term, based on the individual’s needs. Fibromyalgia clinics and pain clinics (pain management practices ) can be found in some places. These clinics provide the benefit of multiple experts under one roof.
Choosing a Doctor to Treat Fibromyalgia
With multiple possible symptoms and no single broadly effective treatment method, fibromyalgia may be challenging for both physician and patient. There’s typically some trial-and-error involved with finding the very best medication, diet, type of exercise, and treatment.
The need to work closely together to alleviate pain and improve functioning should be considered when deciding upon a physician. Obtaining answers to these questions can assist in selecting the best physician for an individual:
Just how many people with fibromyalgia have the physician treated?
What does the doctor think about complementary and alternative medicine?
Does the physician typically recommend physical therapy and/or chiropractic care?
How does the doctor see the function of the patient?
Once a physician has been chosen, the person may benefit from going ahead to get the most out of every office visit. It’s often useful to write down a short description of symptoms in order of significance and deliver the list to another appointment.
This list assists the person think through the symptoms in a low-stress environment and ensures that nothing is overlooked during the office visit. The physician may also have the patient fill out a few questionnaires that can help diagnose the illness and monitor progress over time to determine treatment efficacy. These tools can be especially beneficial when handling patients with fibromyalgia.