Fibromyalgia Syndrome Overview
Fibromyalgia Syndrome, sometimes abbreviated as FMS, is a chronic pain condition localized in the muscles, ligaments and tendons of those inflicted. It is typically accompanied by certain spots on various parts of the body that are tender to the touch and overwhelming fatigue as well as a variety of other symptoms.
Until recently there has been very little acceptance or support from the medical community in regard to this condition. Standard medical tests come back with no significant findings. When you ask someone living with Fibro where it hurts, they typically answer "everywhere."
Medical professionals had a lack of understanding, and as they so often do when they feel inadequate, decided to label this debilitating condition as a psychological problem, and those inflicted as hypochondriacs, rather than trying to look deeper for the real truth.
The unfortunate consequence of this kind of insulting response from the medical community in regard to any health condition or illness, is that it discredits the validity of the illness and the impact it has on one's life in the eyes of society.
This leaves the individual living with Fibromyalgia Syndrome to fight an additional assault on the body, mind and spirit, by having to defend themselves to friends, family and employers etc. during a time they really need support.
It is now becoming more widely recognized, however there's still a long way to go. The stigma still hangs in the air to some degree. Most people diagnosed with Fibromyalgia have been to dozens of doctors who told them there was nothing wrong with them before finally finding someone who makes an accurate diagnosis.
Some statistics estimate that it affects 2 to 4 percent of the population, while other statistics have it as high as 5 or 6. So we can safely assume it is somewhere in that range, however these numbers are probably underestimating the prevalence as it continues to increase.
It is not life-threatening nor progressive, however the pain and other symptoms of Fibromyalgia can be quite devastating to live with. More women than men develop it and its symptoms vary widely from person to person. Not only that, symptoms within the same person can fluctuate wildly. They may change from day to day or even hour to hour.
Most people living with Fibromyalgia Syndrome report that symptoms are affected by factors such as the weather, the amount of stress in their life, the level of activity in the day, and even as something as simple as the time of day.
There are many theories as to what causes Fibromyalgia, however no one is completely sure. It may be a result of Candida or other bacteria, viruses or parasites. Others believe it may be that neurotransmitters in the brain may be out of balance, vitamin and mineral deficiencies or it's the result of a chemical in the spinal fluid called Substance P. While some think it is a result of physical trauma.
In my own personal experience I've found that it is a multi-factorial condition and I have completely eliminated my Fibromyalgia Symptoms by removing all refined foods, as well as all sugars, grains, potatoes and other starchy foods, mild exercise and green living, and addressing the following factors:
- Candida Overgrowth
Candida overgrowth emits toxins into the body that result in a variety of symptoms, of which pain in the connective tissue, as well as many other common Fibromyalgia symptoms like headaches, fatigue, irritability, foggy brain etc.
Pesticides damage the nervous, metabolic, endocrine and immune systems and results in a variety of symptoms that those with Fibromyalgia Syndrome experience.
- Hormonal Imbalances
Hormones have a profound impact on our health and because of a poor diet high in sugar and carbohydrates as well as environmental toxins, many people have an imbalance of hormones, which leads to a variety of debilitating symptoms like chronic pain in the body as well as depression, anxiety, foggy brain and many more. A saliva based hormone test is the most accurate method for identifying hormonal imbalances. Keeping sugar and other refined foods out of the diet, reducing exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides and regular exercise are crucial as well.
- Avoiding Environmental Triggers
Common everyday chemicals that are found in chlorine, perfume, air fresheners and household cleaners can be a major trigger of Fibromyalgia Syndrome symptoms.
- Identifying Hidden Food Sensitivities
Pain in the joints, tendons, muscles, ligaments etc., is one of the most common symptoms for those with undiagnosed food sensitivities. By identifying these foods and removing them from the diet, great improvements can be made.
- Balancing Neurotransmitters
Much of society has an imbalance or deficiency in neurotransmitters in the brain because of environmental toxins, diets high in sugar and other refined foods and high levels of stress. These imbalances are often at the root of many symptoms like chronic pain, depression, anxiety, cognitive difficulties, insomnia etc. and have been found to play a crucial role in Fibromyalgia. Restoring balance to neurotransmitters is helpful for many.
- Nutritional Deficiencies
Deficiencies in essential nutrients is rampant in our society and is often one of the roots of many chronic health conditions, because a body that doesn't have adequate levels of nutrients has organs and systems that don't function properly, which results in declining health and symptoms like pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, cognitive dysfunction and many more.
- Adrenal Fatigue
It is believed that adrenal fatigue may play a major role in Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Exhausted or depleted adrenal glands lead to a variety of symptoms that mimic the symptoms of FMS or CFS, such as excessive fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, exhaustion, anxiety, cravings for sweets and carbs,muscle aches, sleep disturbances and many more. Replenishing the adrenal glands with a variety of supplements and changes in lifestyle can help improve many symptoms.
Toxins released by bacterial overgrowth can produce many of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. One study found that all subjects with fibromyalgia tested positive for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Additionally, the level of the pain correlated with the level of hydrogen on the test.
Most people living with Fibromyalgia Syndrome are also inflicted with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. As someone who has dealt with both conditions, I believe they are basically one in the same illness, with a different subset of symptoms.
There may also be high levels of anxiety and depression. Some people categorize these as symptoms of FMS or even as Fibromyalgia causes but I believe they are actually responses to the situation and are usually caused by one of the other factors listed above: Candida overgrowth, imbalanced neurotransmitters, hidden food sensitivities, hormonal imbalances or environmental toxins.
Living with FMS can be extremely challenging. As with any chronic health condition it impacts the emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of those inflicted as well as the lives of those in their immediate family. There is likely to be a great deal of grief associated with all the changes and loss. The pain, the other symptoms and the impact on one's life may be frightening and overwhelming to deal with at times.
In addition to living with the pain every day, there are many other consequences the individual may face. They may no longer be able to function as they used to. Daily tasks and expectations may inhibited. Many people lose their jobs or must change careers to something they don't desire.
Relationships may be burdened by the loss of income, changing roles and instability that all illness creates. Life as it once was may be turned upside down. Adjustments must be made. There will be a large range of emotions to deal with on a daily basis.
There is no known cure, however many people can manage and reduce symptoms with a variety of alternative and holistic health methods. Treatment of Fibro is most effective when a combination of approaches are utilized together. As I mentioned above, I completely eliminated my fibromyalgia and rarely have a flare by addressing the factors mentioned on this page, and you can too.
Additionally, for many years I used a very specific mindfulness based meditation technique to manage the FM pain. You can learn this technique in my book, Mindfulness Over Chronic Pain.
The key to coping with Fibromyalgia Syndrome, and hopefully reducing your symptoms, effectively lies in patient education and self management skills. The most powerful tool you can have in addressing this condition is Knowledge. Learn everything you can and take an active role in your treatment approach.