Fibromyalgia is a disorder in which a person experiences widespread aches and pains. Although diagnosed by identifying 11 of 18 specific tender points, it should be noted that there is little specific importance in the position of these points. Coexisting symptoms include fatigue, insomnia and mood disorders (anxiety/ depression/ poor memory and attention). Is Fibromyalgia Associated with Any Other Conditions? There is significant overlap between various syndromes and Fibromyalgia. These include Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Temporomandibular joint pain and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities.
Is this All in My Head?
Far from it. Fibromyalgia is a complicated and variable condition however common clinical findings are often present. These include:
•Definitive Muscle changes on biopsy
•Nutrient deficiencies such as Coenzyme Q10, Magnesium and Vitamin D levels
•Amino Acid imbalances
• Neurotransmitter Imbalances •Increased sensitivity in the Central Nervous System leading to the perception that normal sensations are painful.
•Hormonal changes including Cortisol, Thyroid, Growth Hormone and Melatonin
•Increase in Immune System chemical messages •Presence of viral infections, with infiltrations even into the muscle itself. Of course, not all of the above are present in a single individual. It appears fibromyalgia is a complex multidimensional condition with multiple causes explaining why it has been such an illusive condition to diagnose and treat.
Will Exercise Help or Harm Me?
Exercise is usually of benefit in maintaining range of motion, joint strength, cardiovascular health and energy levels. However, a careful balance of exercise needs to be achieved otherwise over exertion may lead to an increase in symptoms. Various forms of exercise have been recommended including aerobic, strengthening, pool based and tai chi and yoga. Whatever exercise you choose, start gradually, realising that building up may take weeks and even months and set backs are unfortunately likely.
May Certain Foods Worsen My Symptoms?
As many patients with Fibromyalgia have Food Allergies/Intolerances, following the principles of a Food Elimination Regime may be advisable to establish if food withdrawal improves your symptoms.
What Foods Might Help?
As many patients with Fibromyalgia may have Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, a trial of a predominantly Organic Whole Food diet is advisable. Quality Lean Meat and Fish is recommended to increase beneficial protein from food sources. A high intake of Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts and Seeds is also encouraged. Trial a period without Dairy and Wheat as per the Food Elimination Regime. Avoid artificial Colours, Flavours and Preservatives. Lose weight if necessary as increases in obesity have been noted to increase tenderness and fatigue.
Should I Give Up Smoking?
However hard this may be, you must give up smoking. Smoking is suspected to increase the frequency and intensity of Fibromyalgia symptoms. See Quit Smoking.
Will Psychological Treatments or Meditation/Relaxation Assist?
Consistent with the multidimensional nature of Fibromyalgia, these treatments may provide some but not complete benefit in alleviating Fibromyalgia. It would appear the more comprehensive and multidimensional the programme, the more effective it will be
What Nutrients/Herbs May Help?
Again, a comprehensive and individualised approach to supplementation including functional clinical tests may be required by an Integrative Practitioner to assist with Fibromyalgia. Nutrients/Herbs that may assist for Fibromyalgia include;
•Quality Protein Powder: Wide coverage of Amino Acids assist in balancing the Neurotransmitters of the Central Nervous System and to increase the health of the muscles. Low allergenic proteins source preferable such as Rice Protein or Whey are preferable.
•Tryptophan or 5-Hydroxytryptophan . Assists in production of the neurotransmitter Serotonin and the Hormone Melatonin.Use in conjunction with Magnesium, B6 and Zinc.Combination treatment with Tyrosine may be effective
•Tyrosine/SAMe. Assists in production of the neurotransmitters of the Dopaminergic pathway.Combination treatment with Tryptophan may be effective
• Magnesium. Deficiency is often associated with chronic muscular aches and pains. Require chelated forms of Magnesium to be effective. Co-nutrients such as B Vitamins and Malic Acid are important. The choice of Magnesium can be critical and is best discussed with a practitioner
•Vitamin D. Insufficiency of Vitamin D associated with non-specific low back pain and anterior thigh pain.Supplementation needs to be in the form of Vitamin D3
•Carnitine. Nutrient supporting energy balance
•Coenzyme Q10. Nutrient supporting energy balance
What Else May I Do For the Pain?
For general advice on Chronic Pain.
The Bottom Line
Fibromyalgia is a complex medical condition. Finding an Integrated Practitioner or team that respects the multiple factors that may be contributing to this condition and who can balance your treatment needs is essential.