The Battlefield Of Fibromyalgia: Successful Fibromyalgia Treatment Starts Here
Make no mistake. If you’ve been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia – – You’re in a Battle!
Make no mistake, if you've been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, you're in for a battle. Successful fibromyalgia treatment requires understanging that you're in a street-fight.
It’s not enough that you’re suffering from chronic wide spread pain, difficulty sleeping, and debilitating fatigue, but to pour salt in the wounds, the average healthcare professional, and perhaps – and more sadly – your friends and family members may not fully understand the significance of your condition.
“The Large Majority Of Physicians, Sociologists, And Medical Historians Are Skeptical About The Validity Of Fibromyalgia As A Clinical Medical Entity.”
Dr. Frederick Wolfe, Leading Fibromyalgia Researcher
Successful Fibromyalgia Treatment Can Be Elusive
Fibromyalgia is a commonly misunderstood condition and diagnosis, and therefore successful fibromyalgia treatment can be elusive. Just about everyone knows someone, a co-worker, family member or a friend suffering with this disease. It that someone is you, our hearts go out to you, because we know the effects that fibromyalgia can have on your home life, work life and family life.
Successful fibromyalgia treatment is elusive when the large majority of physicians are skeptical about the validity of fibromyalgia as a clinical entity.
If you, or someone you love is suffering from the effects of fibromyalgia, there are three helpful things you should know about fibromyalgia. The first – and perhaps the most significant – is that it is not psychological—it is very real. The second is that it can be successfully treated. The third is that it will take commitment and dedication on your part to win the battle against this potentially debilitating disease.
Fibromyalgia is pain in the muscles and connective tissue. It is not the same as arthritis, which affects the joints. The term Fibromyalgia was coined by researcher Mohammed Yunus in 1981. Pronounced “fie-bro-my-AL-ja” – fibromyalgia is derived from the 3 words; Fibra – meaning ‘fiber,’ myo – meaning ‘muscle,’ and algo – meaning ‘pain.’
Fibromyalgia Treatment Research And Historical Background
The first clinical trials of proposed medication for treating fibromyalgia were published in 1986, and in 1990 the American College of Rheumatology published its first classification criteria for the condition. The American Medical Association recognized the diagnosis in 1990, followed by the World Health Organization in 1993.
Fibromyalgia is derived from three words, fibra (fiber), myo (muscle), algo (pain)
Fibromyalgia affects more than 10 million people each year in the United States. Although it affects men and women, 90 percent of those who suffer from fibromyalgia are female. It can affect any age, but those most at risk are in the 30 to 50 age category.
One study found that the average health care cost per patient per year is $2,300. The same study showed that the average fibromyalgia patient takes three different drugs each day in an attempt to control their symptoms. The total cost to the United States economy is estimated to be over $20 billion annually.
The Big 3 Symptoms And The Battle For Effective Fibromyalgia Treatment
There are three main symptoms of fibromyalgia: pain, sleep disturbances and fatigue. Pain, the symptom most often reported, can be made worse by sensory stressors such as noise, changes in the weather, anxiety or emotional stress.
Chronic widespread pain, difficulty sleeping, and debilitating fatigue are the "Big 3" symptoms that make effective fibromyalgia treatment challenging.
Fibromyalgia patients have three times the normal limit of substance P, a pain neurotransmitter. They also have four times the normal amount of nerve growth factor and increased levels of nitric oxide, which produces tissue damage and inflammation. Interleukin-8, which is associated with inflammation, is also found in those suffering from fibromyalgia.
Studies show that fibromyalgia patients do not reach Level 4 sleep, the deep sleep needed to rejuvenate the body. Although they can fall asleep quickly, their deep sleep is interrupted by bursts of awake-like brain activity.
These disturbances in sleep patterns lead to tiredness and listlessness. Ninety percent of patients with fibromyalgia report being extremely fatigued. Some patients wake up in the morning with muscle aches or a sensation of muscle fatigue, as if they had worked all night.
Over 80 percent of fibromyalgia patients suffer chronic headaches. Approximately 70 percent report chronic digestive problems. More than half of those affected experience symptoms such as poor concentration, forgetfulness, mood changes or irritability. Depression, anxiety and stress are other common symptoms, and some patients have dizziness, numbness or tingling, and abdominal pain.
What causes fibromyalgia?
There is no one cause of fibromyalgia. There are, however, a number of factors that predispose a person to develop the condition. Known triggers include:
*Stress and/or depression.
*Traumatic emotional experience such as divorce or abuse.
*Traumatic physical experience such as a car accident or neck injury.
*Systemic toxicity to food, air or water.
*Chronic fatigue syndrome.
*Localized or systemic infection.
*Nutrient deficiencies due to poor nutritional habits.
*Lack of exercise and cardiovascular activities.
Chronic fatigue and the hormone connection
Research shows that chronic stress and fatigue affect the hormone levels in the body.
Cortisol. Chronically high stress levels lead to a high level of cortisol, which is associated with depression and obesity, both of which are seen in many patients with fibromyalgia.
Estrogen. Estrogen has an influence on serotonin levels; when estrogen is lower, so are serotonin levels. Serotonin is a chemical produced by the brain that is associated with feelings of well-being and happiness. This may help explain why many fibromyalgia patients experience worsened symptoms during their period or during menopause.
Thyroid gland. Low estrogen levels cause decreased levels of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), which is important in metabolism. Lower levels of TSH are thought to play a role in the fatigue experienced by fibromyalgia patients.
Adrenal gland. DHEA, a hormone produced by the adrenal gland, has been linked to depression and fatigue. Fibromyalgia patients have decreased levels of DHEA.
Growth hormone. Growth hormone is primarily produced during deep sleep. It is also produced during exercise, both of which are decreased in fibromyalgia patients. Growth hormones are produced in the anterior pituitary gland and are important in metabolism, particularly fat burning and muscle building.
Fibromyalgia and the immune system
Research has established there is a connection between chronic stress and the function of the immune system. Depression has also been linked to a depressed immune system.
Natural bacteria-fighting cells are less active in fibromyalgia patients, which may explain why they are prone to infections. About 60 percent of those who have fibromyalgia have bacterial and viral infections, and they are more likely to have gastrointestinal tract viral antibodies.
Many in the medical community tend to be skeptical of fibromyalgia as a diagnosis, in part because there is no definitive test to establish the diagnosis. Some diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or a heart attack, can be diagnosed by a blood test. Because there is no such test for fibromyalgia, the diagnosis is often made by ruling out other conditions as a source of the pain.
Other conditions with symptoms similar to fibromyalgia that need to be ruled out include:
*Yeast infection (Candidadiasis)
*Chronic fatigue syndrome
*Depression or related psychological conditions
*Digestive disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome
*Myofascial pain syndrome
Once these other conditions have been ruled out, three criteria must be met before a diagnosis of fibromyalgia is determined. First, the patient must have pain throughout the body.
The American College of Rheumatology identified 18 tender points in the body; pain must be produced in at least 11 of the 18 locations. Pain is produced by placing the equivalent of four pounds of pressure on these tender points. This amount of pressure should not normally produce pain.
The standard for diagnosing fibromyalgia includes the ACR (American College of Rheumatology) tender point classification system.
The second criterion for a diagnosis of fibromyalgia is chronic pain, which is pain lasting longer than three months.
The third criterion is that the pain must be located on both sides of the body as well as in the upper and lower parts of the body. Put another way, pain must be found in all four quadrants of the body: upper right, upper left, lower right and lower left.
Chiropractic care has been found to be effective in helping overcome the chronic pain, fatigue and sleep disturbances associated with fibromyalgia. A study released in 2000 detailed the results of 60 patients who were treated by ischemic compression (gentle pressing on a trigger point by a skilled chiropractic physician) and spinal manipulation.
After 30 treatments, 77.2 reported a decrease in the intensity of their pain, 63.5 percent reported improvement in sleep quality and 74.85 percent reported improvement in their fatigue level.
Another study in 2005 reported that acute and chronic chiropractic patients experienced better outcomes in pain, functional disability and patient satisfaction. In 2007, the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society included spinal manipulation as a viable treatment option.
Many patients who suffer from fibromyalgia are told there is no cure. If you have been told you will have to live with fibromyalgia for the rest of your life, do not accept that answer because it is not true. However, it will take hard work and commitment on your part to make the changes in your lifestyle that will lead to living a better life, free from chronic pain and fatigue. Remember, the battle for successful fibromyalgia treatment begins with you!