Fibromyalgia is a condition involving muscle pain and fatigue. It is characterized by A tender points@ on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs which hurt when pressed on. Other problems are commonly seen with fibromyalgia including:
- Menstrual problems
- Numbness in hands and feet
- Cognitive problems (concentration and memory)
- Sleep problems
- Morning stiffness
The cause(s) are unknown but, there are several factors linked to fibromyalgia such as:
- Post-Traumatic Stress (PTSD)
- Certain illnesses or disease (e.g., immune diseases, metabolic (hormonal(, osteoporosis, arthritic diseases, lupus, etc.)
- Repetitive injuries (e.g., sports injuries, overexertion of muscles, multiple spinal cord surgeries, etc.)
- Neurochemical imbalances involving dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, serotonin, acetylcholine, P-substance, endorphins, GABA and/or other transmitters
- Biochemical imbalances (electrolyte imbalances, cytokines, NO, etc.)
- Sleep disorders
- Genetic factors
There is a general lack of understanding and/or awareness among health care providers as to how to treat fibromyalgia. It generally requires a team approach. There are no FDA approved drugs to treat fibromyalgia but, pain medications and antidepressants are commonly used from the allopathic perspective. A holistic approach is one that adheres to the Principles of Wellness. From the seven areas of wellness, the physical component addresses overall medical condition, brain chemistry, exercise level and type, laboratory studies, and pH of the body. Psychological treatments may involve psychophysiological therapy (biofeedback), stress management, neurocognitive rehabilitation (e.g., Brain Fitness), solution-focused, cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy, hypnosis, and other mind-body techniques. From the spiritual perspective, it is important for the patient to develop a sense of purpose in life and to have specific life goals. Everything happens for a reason and it is important to have the proper positive attitude towards disease in order to have a positive outcome. Other therapies involving bioenergetics are also useful such as Reiki. Nutritional therapy involves developing the right diet by avoiding foods that aggravate fibromyalgia (e.g., nightshade foods, excessive metas, etc.) and eating more foods that contain nutrients and other ingredients that help alleviate it (e.g., magnesium, potassium, malic acid, etc.).
Often fibromyalgia patients suffer from an acidic pH of saliva and urine and by eating a more alkaline diet can greatly improve their condition. Sleep hygiene is essential to help improve sleep in fibromyalgia patients. In some cases, it may be necessary to obtain a polysomnogram to determine specific sleep disorders that may be present (e.g., sleep apnea). Environmental factors can often play a major role in fibromyalgia. By assessing the type of stimuli a person is receiving through the senses and correcting any harmful stressors, it is possible to greatly improve the patient's condition. Exposure to environemntal toxins in various forms can also be linked to fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. Finally, it is important to instill the necessary life skills so that the patient may become empowered in overcoming their disease rather than relying on the healthcare provider or other person to "fix" them whenever there is a problem or relapse.