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Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) is considered a rheumatic disorder characterized by chronic achy muscular pain that has not obvious physical cause. It most commonly affects the lower back, the neck, the shoulders, the back of the head, the upper chest, and/or the thighs, although any area or areas of the body may be involved. Along with tissue pain and tenderness, chronic fatigue is often associated with this disorder.
The pain of fibromyalgia is more than normal muscle aches common after physical exertion. Fibromyalgia often can be severe enough to disrupt a person's daily work and activities.
It is estimated that around 5 to 6 million people in the United States have fibromyalgia, although some research reports even higher numbers since this condition is often misdiagnosed. Fibromyalgia manifests itself in similar ways to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), chemical sensitivities, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic myofascial pain (shortened muscle fiber). As a result, it often takes a long time for a proper diagnosis to be made. In the past, FMS was known as fibrositis or fibromyositis, but both of these terms are not considered inappropriate because they imply inflammation of some sort (the suffix -itis is medical terminology for "inflammation") and inflammation is not a major factor in fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia has been recognized as a medical disorder only since the 1980s, although there is evidence it may have existed for centuries.
FIBROMYALGIA FREQUENT SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
Widespread, chronic muscle and joint pain is the most universal symptom in the diagnosis. The pain usually develops gradually and intensifies over time. The pain is usually described as burning, throbbing, shooting, and stabbing.
The pain and stiffness is often greater in the morning than at other times of day, and it may be accompanied by chronic headaches, strange sensations in the skin (Raynaud's Syndrome), insomnia, depression, irritable bowel syndrome (present in about 1/2 of those with fibromyalgia) which may include diarrhea or constipation, and temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ).
Other symptoms often experienced by people with fibromyalgia include:
- Premenstrual syndrome.
- Painful periods.
- Memory impairment and difficulty concentrating.
- Irritable bladder.
- Skin sensitivities, tingling sensation in hands.
- Dry eyes and mouth.
- A need for frequent changes in eyeglass prescription.
- Impaired coordination.
Activities, such as lifting and climbing stairs, are often very difficult and painful.
Depression often accompanies this disorder, and stress may trigger the development of problems similar to those associated with cardiovascular disease and adrenal gland disorders.
Because the immune system is typically compromised in this disorder, opportunistic viral and bacterial infections are common as well.
Widespread pain that has been present for at least 3 months. To be considered "widespread," the pain must be both above and below the waist and on both sides of the body.
The most distinctive feature of fibromyalgia, one that differentiates it from similar conditions, is the existence of certain "tender points" - nine pairs (18 points) of specific spots where the muscles are abnormally tender to the touch: The 18 points tend to cluster around the neck, shoulders, chest, knees, elbows region, and hips, and include the following:
To clearly diagnose fibromyalgia, a person must have pain at 11 or more of the 18 tender points. In practice, however, many people with fibromyalgia have less than 11 tender points. It is now recognized that some people with fibromyalgia having less than 11 tender points will have most of the other known symptoms.
- Around the lower vertebra of the neck.
- At the insertion of the second rib, just to the right and left of the breastbone (sternum) about 2 inches (5.08 cm) below the collarbone.
- Around the upper part of the thigh bone, on the outer upper leg just behind the bony part of the hips (this point is easier to find when standing).
- In the middle (inside) of the knee joint.
- In muscles connected to the base of the skull, just behind the ear.
- In muscles of the neck and upper back, about halfway between the base of the neck and the tip of the shoulder.
- In muscles of the mid-back, at the spot where the back muscles attach to the shoulder blade, just below the point above.
- On the side of the elbow, on each forearm just and to the outside of the crease of the elbow.
- In the upper and outer right and left muscles of the buttocks.
Most people with fibromyalgia also have an associated sleep disorder known as alpha-EEG anomaly. In this disorder. In this disorder, the individual's deep sleep periods are interrupted by bouts of waking-type brain activity, resulting in poor sleep. Some people with fibromyalgia are plagued by other sleep disorders as well, such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, bruxism, and sleep myoclonus (a sudden rapid contraction of a muscle or a group of muscles during sleep or as one is falling asleep). Not surprisingly, given all of these sleep difficulties, people with fibromyalgia often suffer from chronic fatigue that can range from mild to incapacitating.
Other disorders common in people with fibromyalgia include the following:
- Chemical and/or food allergies.
- Dizziness and loss of balance.
- Extreme fatigue.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (diarrhea and/or constipation, often alternating).
- Jaw pain.
- Memory loss and difficulty concentrating.
- Menstrual pain.
- Sensitivity to bright lights or loud noises.
- Skin sensitivities.
- Stiffness in the morning and, often, when walking.
This disorder is much more common in females than in males, and most often begins in young adulthood. In most cases, symptoms come on gradually and slowly increase in intensity. They can be triggered (or made worse) by a number of different factors, including:
- Lack of exercise.
- Lack of sleep.
- Extremes in temperature and/or humidity.
- Infectious illness.
In majority of cases, symptoms are severe enough to interfere with normal daily activities. A significant number of people with fibromyalgia are actually disabled by the condition.
The cause or causes of fibromyalgia are not known, and there are not tests that can diagnose FMS with complete certainty.
It is thought by some that the disorder, which was only recognized as such in 1990, is caused by a disruption in the brain's ability to process pain.
Some evidence points to a problem with the immune system since certain immunologic abnormalities are common among people with this disorder. Their significance and relationship to the syndrome, however, are not understood.
A disturbance in brain chemistry may also be involved. Many people who develop fibromyalgia have a history of clinical depression. An imbalance in brain chemicals that control mood can also cause an unrestful sleep cycle. This leads to fatigue and a lowered tolerance for pain, which in turn leads to tender points and widespread pain in the muscles and soft tissues. Once this occurs, a person becomes less physically active, and the muscles and tissues become more sensitive and painful and more easily injured or irritated.
Some research has found FMS is more likely to occur in people with a history of sexual abuse, domestic violence, and even alcoholism.
May be due to an imbalance of hormones released by the pituitary gland, which can cause fatigue, water retention, and muscle and joint pain.
May be associated with nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain, which can be more sensitive to pain in people who develop fibromyalgia. This may occur from changes in chemicals in the brain or spinal cord that regulate pain. As a result, the person senses pain more easily, and widespread muscle pain occurs.
May be caused by below-normal levels of growth hormone in their bodies. Growth hormone deficiency has been associated with low energy, muscle weakness, sensitivity to cold, weakened ability to remember and think, and other problems.
Other possible causes that have been proposed include:
- Infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), the virus that causes infectious mononucleosis.
- Candida albicans (yeast) infection.
- Chronic mercery poisoning from amalgam dental fillings.
Some experts believe that fibromyalgia may be related to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which causes similar symptoms, except that in fibromyalgia, muscle pain predominates over fatigue, whereas in CFS, fatigue predominates over pain.
FMS has even been misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease.
Regardless of what causes it, fibromyalgia seems to involve a cycle of increased sensitivity to pain and decreased physical activity.
- Increasing pain makes a person less physically active.
- Muscles that are not exercised regularly are more likely to be injured during activity. It is also possible that people with fibromyalgia are more sensitive to pain or have muscles that are more easily irritated or injured.
- The irritated or injured muscles are painful. Some health care providers think the muscles of people with fibromyalgia remain sore because they do not repair themselves as well as the muscles of people who do not have this syndrome.
- Muscle pain, sometimes occurring together with disrupted sleep and daytime fatigue, leads to less and less activity.
Certain factors may increase the risk of developing fibromyalgia.
Women are affected far more often than men, although men and children also get fibromyalgia. While fibromyalgia can occur at any age, the chances of getting this disorder increase as a person ages. Those who are most likely to be diagnosed include:
Fibromyalgia sometimes occurs with other muscle or joint diseases or chronic pain conditions. This can make fibromyalgia difficult to diagnose.
- Women in their mid-30s to late 50s. Being female greatly increases your chance of developing this syndrome since fibromyalgia is much more common in females than males, and most often begins in young adulthood. In most cases, symptoms come on gradually and slowly increase in intensity.
- Men and women age 70 or older.
- People who also have an autoimmune disorder, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
- Those who have recently had an infectious disease, such as Lyme disease.
- A psychiatric condition (such as major depression) may increase your chance of developing fibromyalgia.
If you already have fibromyalgia, you may be more likely to have recurring symptoms or persistent pain if you:
- Have episodes of emotional or physical stress.
- Had more than 11 tender points on your initial assessment.
- Have had symptoms of pain for more than 10 years.
- Have sleep disturbance.
- Have psychological symptoms such as anxiety or depression.
Currently, fibromyalgia can be neither prevented nor cured. However, prompt treatment of your symptoms may help reduce the length of the flare-up.
Fibromyalgia can sometimes feel like the flu. You may experience body aches, tiredness, and intestinal discomfort, such as diarrhea. The pain in your joints and muscles may become especially bothersome at night, waking you from sleep. In the morning, you may feel very stiff and sore. You may have trouble concentrating due to fatigue. These symptoms may last from days to months. The initial site of your pain may expand if your symptoms last a long time.
People with fibromyalgia have periods when their symptoms become worse and periods when they have no symptoms. Flare-ups of fatigue and muscle and joint aches are common, especially following physical or emotional stress.
Although fibromyalgia is a long-lasting (chronic) condition, the symptoms usually can be managed with home treatment, especially exercise. Treatment with medications may be helpful when sleep problems, severe pain, or depression develop. Unfortunately, some people may not respond to any treatment measures.
While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, most symptoms can be controlled through self-care methods at home. Fortunately, the condition does not cause damage to muscles, joints, or internal organs. Most people with fibromyalgia adjust to their symptoms and are able to continue working and with daily activities. However, there are a small number of people who may have to adjust their work and lifestyles due to the severity of their symptoms.
Because malabsorption problems are common in people with this disorder, it is best to use sublingual vitamins and other supplements because they are more easily absorbed than tablets or capsules.
FIBROMYALGIA CONVENTIONAL MEDICAL TREATMENT
Fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to many other disorders and diseases. There are no lab tests to diagnose fibromyalgia. It is often diagnosed after other conditions have been ruled out. Your health care provider will take your medical history and do a physical exam. Fibromyalgia is diagnosed when:
Fibromyalgia is not a psychological condition, although it has some psychological components. As with many conditions that cause chronic pain, anxiety and depression are common in people with fibromyalgia and may make symptoms worse.
- A person has had widespread pain for at least 3 months. To be considered "widespread," the pain must be both above and below the waist and on both sides of the body.
- At least 11 of 18 specific tender points are painful when pressed. (Because symptoms vary widely from person to person, some people with fibromyalgia may have fewer painful tender points.)
- Other symptoms typical of fibromyalgia, such as pain and stiffness, fatigue, disrupted sleep, depression, or headache. These may get worse with increased stress, anxiety, exertion, or changes in the weather.
STANDARD MEDICAL TREATMENT
While there is no specific cure for fibromyalgia, symptoms of this syndrome can be treated. If you have fibromyalgia, taking an active role in your treatment is very important to managing your condition. There is no surgical treatment for fibromyalgia.
Treatment may be different for each individual. It can include:
Research is ongoing to understand the cause of fibromyalgia and its cure.
- Medications to help you sleep better and to relieve pain.
- Exercise therapy to help with muscle aches and stiffness.
- Counseling to help you manage chronic pain.
Because symptoms of fibromyalgia mimic so many other disorders, other conditions with similar symptoms often must be eliminated before fibromyalgia can be properly diagnosed.
Many conditions are reported either to be associated with fibromyalgia or to share similar symptoms. Because there are so many other conditions with similar symptoms, diagnosing fibromyalgia can be difficult. Some of these disorders include:
Many people with fibromyalgia report that their muscle pain is made worse by cold or damp weather, poor sleep, fatigue, stress, overexertion, and anxiety. The skin may also be ultrasensitive, reacting to a firm touch with tingling, numbness or a "pins and needles" sensation.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (found in around one-half of those with fibromyalgia).
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
- Major depressive disorder.
- Interstitial cystitis (Painful Bladder Syndrome).
- Restless legs syndrome.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis.
- Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR).
- Lyme Disease (some report having had Lyme disease prior to a diagnosis of fibromyalgia).
- Sjögren's syndrome.
- Raynaud's Syndrome.
- Temporomandibular Disorders (jaw problems).
Treatment is focused on managing pain, fatigue, depression, and other symptoms common in fibromyalgia in an attempt to break the cycle of increased sensitivity to pain and decreased physical activity.
While there is no one standard medical treatment for fibromyalgia, the basic goals of treatment are to:
Treatment may include:
- Learn about fibromyalgia.
- Start a program of physical exercise.
- Relieve sleep problems.
- Relieve pain and stiffness.
- Reduce stress and avoid other factors that worsen symptoms.
Fibromyalgia can affect mood and lead to depression or anxiety. These problems are common in people with this disorder and may require specific treatment.
- Medications to help you sleep better.
- Medications to help relieve muscle and joint pain.
- Exercise therapy to help relieve sore muscles and increase energy.
- Improving sleep may also help with muscle and joint pain.
Many people with fibromyalgia have other joint or muscle diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus) that need to be treated as well.
Although exercise seems to help most people with fibromyalgia, no one particular treatment stands out as the most effective. The kind of treatment you need or want may be based on:
Because the symptoms of fibromyalgia can come and go, you may find it difficult to judge whether a particular treatment is really working. Different people may respond differently to each type of treatment.
- The severity of your symptoms.
- Whether the condition is disrupting your daily life.
- What kinds of changes in your life you are willing and able to make.
It may take time and you may have to try several different treatments to find an approach that works for you.
Medications do not cure fibromyalgia. However, some medications may help improve fibromyalgia symptoms, especially muscle pain and frequent waking during the night. Not all people with fibromyalgia will need, want, or benefit from medications, but people with more severe pain, sleep problems, or depression that disturbs their daily life may find them helpful.
Antidepressants and pain relievers are often used to treat symptoms of fibromyalgia. This does not mean that the condition is "all in your head." Antidepressants may help by improving sleep, mood, or by blocking pain signals. Many people with fibromyalgia appear to benefit from the use of these medications.
Often, medications may be combined (such as fluoxetine and amitriptyline) for the most effective treatment of symptoms of pain and sleep disruptions. Certain types of antidepressants may be used to improve sleep, relieve pain, and in some cases treat depression:
In general, medications are not very useful for the long-term treatment of fibromyalgia. They may help break the cycle of pain and sleep problems when symptoms flare up, but they usually are part of a larger treatment plan that focuses on exercise and other types of treatment.
- Tricyclic antidepressants may improve sleep and possibly provide pain relief.
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, also called SSRIs, such as fluoxetine (for example, Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), or sertraline (Zoloft), may reduce depression or improve sleep.
- A muscle relaxant called cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) may also be used for pain and sleep problems. This drug is very similar to certain tricyclic antidepressants.
- Non-prescription pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (for example, Tylenol), or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or aspirin) usually are not very helpful in treating day-to-day symptoms of fibromyalgia. However, they may be useful in reducing severe pain caused by a flare-up of symptoms. You should check with your health care provider if you need to continue taking these medications, as they may harm your stomach, kidneys, or in rare cases, your liver. Your health care provider may want to monitor you if you take NSAIDs daily.
- Stronger pain relievers (narcotics) and sleep aids that are addictive are rarely used to treat fibromyalgia because they are often ineffective, and a person can become dependent on these medications over time.
Although fibromyalgia is a chronic disease, there is much you can do to relieve and control your symptoms.
Home treatment is the most important part of treating fibromyalgia and focuses on:
The best results occur when you take an active, committed role in your own treatment. You may need to adjust your lifestyle to fit home treatment into your daily routine. It may take time to find an approach that works for you. Try to be patient, and keep in mind that consistent home treatment usually can help relieve or control symptoms of fibromyalgia.
- Exercising. Exercise may have the most benefit in reducing symptoms of fibromyalgia.
- Improving sleep.
- Relieving pain.
- Reducing stress.
- Learning about fibromyalgia.
- Treating nutritional deficiencies caused by malabsorption problems.
ALTERNATIVE THERAPY TREATMENTS
A variety of other treatments have been used for conditions that cause chronic pain. Most of these complementary or alternative therapies are not proven treatments for fibromyalgia; however, they may be helpful for some people when symptoms flare up and may improve quality of life.
Studies show that certain relaxation techniques may be effective in relieving pain caused by fibromyalgia, including:
SAM-e is short for S-adenosylmethionine, an essential molecule naturally occurring in the cells of plants and animals. SAM-e has been used to treat depression and may also be helpful for fibromyalgia. SAM-e is not an herb. As we age, our bodies produce less SAM-e, so some think that SAM-e may be a helpful supplement when used to treat depressive symptoms. It has been available in European countries through prescription.
SAM-e has been getting attention in recent years in the United States for the treatment of depression or to preserve emotional well-being, as well as for other conditions. Initial studies indicate that SAM-e may be effective in helping with depressive symptoms; however, studies are ongoing, and no clinical trials have proven SAM-e safe or effective in the treatment of depression.
At present, the safety of SAM-e has not been proven. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve or regulate the distribution of supplements in the United States. Not all formulations of SAM-e are the same. Some brands are more potent than others, depending upon the quality of the ingredients used. SAM-e can have numerous adverse side effects, including:
Another issue in deciding whether to use SAM-e is cost. The recommended oral dose is 200 to 800 mg twice per day. Most studies used 1,600 mg per day to get any positive effects in relieving depressive symptoms. A 1-month supply of SAM-e at 1,600 mg per day would cost about $228. Other herbal treatments are more cost-effective.
- Flatulence (gas).
- Causing a change from bouts of depression to intense periods of energy (mania).
INFORMATION & SAM-e PRODUCTS
S-Adenosyl Methionine (SAM-e) Supplement Products/li> Methionine Amino Acid Supplement Products
SAM-e was discovered in 1952 in Italy and has been researched and manufactured there. SAM-e works closely with folic acid and vitamin B-12.
Folic Acid Supplement Products Vitamin B-12 Supplement Products
BIOFEEDBACK. Biofeedback is a method of consciously controlling a body function that is normally regulated automatically by the body, such as skin temperature, muscle tension, heart rate, or blood pressure. When you are first learning biofeedback, sensors will be attached to your body and to a monitoring device. This provides instant feedback on a body function (for example, a person's skin temperature). The biofeedback therapist will then teach you physical and mental exercises that can help you control the function. The results are displayed on the monitor while the you learn how to control that function. The monitor beeps or flashes when the person achieves the desired change in that body function (such as increasing skin temperature or reducing muscle tension).
TWO TYPES OF BIOFEEDBACK
1. Electromyography (EMG). This type of biofeedback uses a device that measures muscle tension while the person practices a relaxation technique, such as meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualization.
2. Peripheral temperature or hand temperature biofeedback. This type of biofeedback uses a device that measures the skin temperature of the hands while the person tries to increase it, often through visualization or guided imagery. For instance, a person may listen to a tape that stirs images of blood flowing to his or her hands. Increasing blood flow to the hands makes the hands warmer.
Learning biofeedback requires several sessions in a biofeedback lab or other setting. Most people can be successful at biofeedback by the time they complete 12 sessions. Home feedback units are also available. With practice, many people may be able to learn to influence their muscle tension or blood flow without the help of the feedback monitor.
Biofeedback is used most often to control problems related to stress or blood flow, such as headaches, high blood pressure, sleep disorders, and Raynaud's phenomenon. It may also be used to help control long-term (chronic) pain.
Biofeedback is a safe procedure. It is most effective when taught by someone well trained in biofeedback techniques. The sensors placed on the skin to measure a body function may irritate your skin.
See Biofeedback Therapy for more information.
ACUPUNCTURE or ELECTROACUPUNCTURE. Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese therapy that has been used for centuries. Acupuncture is often used to relieve pain. It is based on the theory that there is energy, called chi or qi, flowing through your body. Chi is thought to flow along energy pathways called meridians. If the flow of chi is blocked or unbalanced at any point on a pathway, theoretically it may result in illness. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners believe acupuncture unblocks and balances the flow of chi to restore health. Western medicine practitioners who have studied acupuncture theorize that acupuncture reduces pain through biological mechanisms, perhaps involving opioid peptides and stimulation of the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, or changes in neurotransmitters, hormones, or the immune function.
Traditional Chinese acupuncture usually is done by inserting very thin needles into the skin at certain points on the body to stimulate energy flow along the body's energy pathways (meridians). Other types of acupuncture may use heat, pressure, or mild electrical current to stimulate energy flow along these meridians.
Acupuncture is used to relieve pain and treat certain health conditions. It may be used alone or as part of a treatment program. Promising results have been found for the use of acupuncture in treating nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy and post surgery pain. Acupuncture may be useful for other conditions such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma.
Acupuncture is a valuable treatment for certain health conditions and merits further use and study.
In general, acupuncture is a safe treatment when done by a certified acupuncturist. You may want to see an acupuncturist who is licensed by the state regulatory board. A state license ensures that the acupuncturist has a certain level of training and follows certain practice guidelines. There may be a slight risk of infection from non-sterilized needles. However, most needles used today are disposed of after one use.
See Acupuncture Therapyfor more information.
MEDITATION. Meditation is the practice of focusing your attention on feeling calm and having a clear awareness about your life. The health benefits of meditation have been recognized in Eastern philosophies for thousands of years. Meditation is now widely practiced in the West, with the belief that it has positive effects on health.
Two meditation techniques are most commonly used: concentrative and mindful. In concentrative meditation, you focus on a single image, sound, mantra (words spoken or sung in a pattern), or your own breathing. Mindful meditation does not focus on a single purpose; rather, you are aware of all thoughts, feelings, sounds, or images that pass through your mind.
Meditation usually involves slow, regular breathing and sitting quietly for 15 to 20 minutes.
Meditation is used to help treat a wide range of physical and mental problems, including:
Most of these conditions also need conventional treatment to be successful.
- Addictive behaviors, such as drug, nicotine, and alcohol use.
- Immune system diseases, such as HIV and cancer.
- Anxiety, stress, and depression.
- High cholesterol and high blood pressure (hypertension). The National Institute of Health (NIH) now recommends meditation as part of the first line of treatment for mild hypertension.
Meditation is not thought to have any negative side effects or complications when combined with conventional medical treatment. Meditation alone is not considered appropriate or safe for acute, life-threatening situations or in place of effective conventional treatment. Talk to your health care professional about using meditation in addition to your conventional medical treatments.
Since meditation usually involves sitting quietly for a period of time and breathing deeply, anyone who cannot sit comfortably or who has respiratory problems may have difficulty practicing meditation. Some people with mental health problems, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or schizophrenia, may not be able to use meditation therapy effectively.
See Meditation Therapy for more information.
PRAYER or SPIRITUAL MEDITATION. Many people believe prayer, also known as spiritual meditation, is a way to communicate directly with a spiritual energy or higher being. Prayer can be silent, as in meditation, or spoken aloud in a group, as in a religious setting. Prayer may help people find an inner sense of meaning, or it may strengthen their belief in a higher being. Prayer / Spiritual Meditation may feel very supportive to people faced with life-changing problems, such as illness.
Prayer can be an expression of gratitude or a sincere request for help. Prayer can be used for a positive outcome in a situation or for inner strength during difficult times in life.
Many established religions view prayer as a powerful tool in helping a wide range of physical or mental problems. You do not have to belong to an organized or established religious group to use spiritual meditation. This can be done quietly in the privacy of your own home or living space and quiet time to turn your thoughts inward towards your own spiritual connections and strength.
Health benefits, such as lower blood pressure, increased longevity, and reduced risk for depression, may be seen in people who regularly practice their spiritual faith or who are part of a religious community.
Some people believe prayer has the power to heal physical and mental illness. Some claims for medical "miracles" have been attributed to the use of prayer. Some people, depending on their belief in prayer, may experience a feeling of inner strength or power when they engage in some form of spiritual meditation.
There have been positive studies that measured the effect of prayer on a person's health. Other data are inconclusive on the effect of prayer on health care outcomes. When combined with conventional medical treatment, prayer is not thought to have any negative side effects or complications. Prayer should not replace conventional medical treatment, and prayer alone is not considered appropriate for sudden (acute), life-threatening situations.
TRANSCUTANEOUS ELECTRICAL NERVE STIMULATION (TENS). Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a therapy that uses electrical current delivered through electrodes to the skin for pain relief. Electrical stimulation of the nerves may encourage the body to produce natural pain killers called endorphins, which may block the perception of pain. TENS is done with a small, battery-powered machine, called a TENS unit, about the size of a pocket radio. Usually two electrodes, wires that conduct electrical current, are connected from the machine to the skin. The electrodes are often placed on the area of pain or at a pressure point, creating a circuit of electrical impulses that travels along nerve fibers.
The machine can be set for different wavelength frequency, such as a steady flow of electrical current or a burst of electrical current, and for intensity of electrical current. These settings are usually determined by your physical therapist or health care provider. After an introduction to and instruction in this therapy, TENS can be done at home.
TENS is used to relieve pain for several different types of illnesses and conditions. It is used most often to treat muscle, joint, or bone problems that occur with illnesses such as osteoarthritis or fibromyalgia, or for conditions such as low back pain, neck pain, tendonitis, or bursitis. TENS has also been used to treat sudden (acute) pain, such as labor pain, and long-lasting (chronic) pain, such as cancer pain.
Although TENS may help relieve pain for some people, its effectiveness has not been proven, and it is not considered to be a long-term solution to pain.
TENS is generally considered safe, although the machine could harm an adult or child if misused. Have your physical therapist or health care provider show you the proper way to use the machine, and follow these instructions carefully.
For more information contact your health care professional or local hospital may be able to refer you to a physical therapist experienced in using TENS. The American Physical Therapy Association can help you find a physical therapist in your area. Call toll-free at 1-800-999-APTA (1-800-999-2782), or visit its Web site at http://www.apta.org for more information. See TENS Therapy for more information.
COUNSELING, such as COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (CBT). Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of counseling aimed at teaching you how to become healthier by modifying certain thought and behavior patterns. It is based on the theory that thought and behavior can affect a person's symptoms and be an obstacle to recovery. CBT can be helpful in treating a variety of problems, including depression, anxiety and panic disorders, eating disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, and chronic pain.
In CBT, you and the therapist work together to identify and change negative thinking and behavior patterns that may contribute to illness. Therapy also focuses on teaching you more positive ways of thinking about and coping with not only illness but also life events and relationships.
PHYSICAL THERAPY. Physical therapy is the treatment of a disease or condition by physical or mechanical means, such as through exercise, heat, or electrical current. A physical therapist provides these treatments and will also provide education, instruction, and support for recovery.
The purpose of physical therapy is to decrease pain and allow you to gradually return to your normal activities. Physical therapy can reduce pain in the soft tissues (such as the muscles, ligaments, and tendons), improve function, and build muscle strength. A health care provider or physical therapist will design a program specific to your normal level of activity, physical fitness, and severity of pain.
Physical therapy techniques may include:
- Stretching, to reduce stress on joints.
- Manual therapy, to improve or maintain range of motion.
- Heat therapy, to improve blood circulation to the muscles and other soft tissues.
- Ice therapy, to reduce swelling and relieve pain.
- Exercise, to strengthen muscles.
MASSAGE THERAPY. Massage involves applying pressure to the soft tissues of the body, such as the muscles. The theory is that massage may be helpful in reducing tension and pain, improving circulation, and encouraging relaxation. Massage is usually done by applying pressure with the hands, but it can also be done using the forearms, elbows, or feet. Massage techniques can affect the muscles, circulation, nervous system, and other systems of the body. There are at least 80 different types of massage. Some are gentle, and some are very active and intense.
For example, Swedish massage is very gentle and is often used to promote relaxation, improve circulation, and relieve muscle tension. Long, gliding strokes and kneading and tapping techniques are used on the top layer of muscles in the direction of blood flow to the heart. This may also include moving the joints gently to improve range of motion.
Deep tissue massage is more active and intense. It is used to treat long-lasting (chronic) muscle tension. Slow strokes are applied (with the fingers, thumbs, and elbows) using intense pressure to reach deeper layers of the muscles than those reached with a Swedish massage technique.
Some people feel that massage works because the touch is healing. Touch also communicates a sense of caring.
Massage is used to promote relaxation and relieve pain. It is also used to relieve muscle tension and may improve circulation, relieve pressure on nerves, and restore normal joint movement. Most studies on massage provide good evidence that massage reduces anxiety. There is also some evidence that shows massage improves blood circulation and decreases muscle tension. However, there is little reliable evidence that massage reduces pain, improves movement, or improves athletic performance.
When done properly, massage is considered safe. Certification by the American Massage Therapy Association ensures a certain level of training and the use of certain practice guidelines. Keep in mind that massage may be expensive, is generally not covered by insurance, and requires a time commitment.
Massage is a popular therapy for both relaxation and to treat many different health conditions. Massage therapists can be found in most areas. Your health care provider or another health professional may be able to provide referrals. Massage is not a substitute for prescribed physical therapy.
The American Massage Therapy Association also provides information and referrals. You may contact the association by phone at (847) 864-0123, writing to American Massage Therapy Association, 820 Davis Street, Suite 100, Evanston, IL 60201-4444 or by visiting their website at www.amtamassage.org. See Massage Therapy for more information.
TRIGGER POINT INJECTIONS with a numbing drug (anesthetic).
DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS. A dietary supplement is something that is found in foods (such as meats, grains, fruits, or vegetables) and therefore can be sold to the public without testing and approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. See below for helpful dietary supplements. Because there is no testing or regulation of dietary supplements, it is not known how safe and effective melatonin or many other dietary supplements are. There is also no guarantee of the purity of supplements, for example, how much of a supplement is melatonin and how much of it is other substances or "fillers." Obtain your supplements from reliable sources.
Vitamins. Vitamins are special chemicals the body needs in small amounts. They work in a variety of ways, mostly as "helpers." For example, many of the B vitamins help the body use protein, fats, and carbohydrates properly. Vitamins do not provide energy (they are not a source of calories), but they are essential for the body to function properly.
Vitamins are divided into two categories:
See below for recommended dietary supplements and nutritional suggestions.
- Water-soluble vitamins include all the B vitamins and vitamin C. Water-soluble vitamins travel freely through the body, and excess amounts are excreted easily by the kidneys. The body needs water-soluble vitamins in frequent, small doses, and they are unlikely to reach toxic levels.
- Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fat-soluble vitamins, however, are stored in the body's cells and are not excreted as easily. They do not need to be consumed as frequently as water-soluble vitamins (although adequate amounts are needed), and they are more likely to reach toxic levels if consumed in excess.
Herbal products. See below for recommended herbs that can be used to help treat fibromyalgia.
REFLEXOLOGY, which is the practice of applying pressure to points on the body that benefit other parts of the body.
CHIROPRACTIC THERAPY. A chiropractor is a health professional who uses a system of therapy based on the theory that a person's health is generally determined by the condition of the nervous system and how it relates to the spine and the muscles.
Many chiropractors use spinal manipulation to relieve back pain. Spinal manipulation is done through a variety of techniques. For example, the practitioner may use his or her fingers or hands to apply pressure to and move the vertebrae slightly beyond their normal range of motion. Treatment may also involve careful twisting of the head, shoulders, and hips. Heat, ice, corsets, ultrasound, strength and conditioning exercises, biofeedback, and relaxation therapy may be used to supplement spinal manipulation. Some chiropractors use X-rays to diagnose conditions. Some use diet and physical therapy along with spinal manipulation. Chiropractic therapy does not use medications or surgery to treat conditions. Spinal manipulation must be done by a specially trained, licensed practitioner, usually a chiropractor or an osteopathic physician.
In general, complementary or alternative treatments are not harmful, and you may find one or more of them helpful in relieving some of your symptoms. Keep in mind that there is only limited information about the effectiveness of these treatments (and others about which you may have heard) for treating fibromyalgia. Before trying any treatment, consider asking your health care provider these questions:
- Is it safe? Talk with your health care provider about the safety and potential side effects of the treatment and/or medication. Remember that fibromyalgia does not physically harm you or damage your body. A treatment or a medication that could be harmful and may or may not improve your symptoms may not be worth the risk.
- Does it work? Because the symptoms of fibromyalgia can come and go, you may find it difficult to judge whether a particular treatment is really working. A treatment that works for one person may not work for you. It may take time, and you may have to try several different treatments to find an approach that works for you.
- How much does it cost? An expensive, unproven treatment that may or may not help you may not be worth the high cost. Keep in mind that when you get better after treatment, the treatment is not always the reason for the improvement. Symptoms sometimes improve on their own.
Maintain a regular program of moderate exercise. A daily walk followed by some gentle stretching exercises is good. If you have been sedentary before, start slowly and be careful not to overexert yourself; this can aggravate symptoms. Keep in mind that what you need is some amount of daily exercises, not a strenuous workout two or three times a week. Once you body is accustomed to regular exercise, symptoms are likely to improve. Moderate exercise and stretching help to keep muscles flexible and prevent joints from stiffening up.
Be sure to give your body sufficient rest. Set aside at least 8 hours for sleep each night.
Take a hot shower or a bath upon arising to stimulate circulation and help relieve morning stiffness. Or alternate between hot water and cold water while showering. Recent studies have shown cold showers to be beneficial for relieving the pain of fibromyalgia. Hot baths help to relax the muscles.
Consider trying massage therapy, which can help to relax muscles and reduce stiffness of the joints.
Have your health care provider check your thyroid function. Symptoms of hypothyroidism can mimic those of FMS.
Astragalus and Echinacea enhance immune function.
Black Walnut and Garlic aid in removing parasites.
Boswellia (Frankincense) is excellent for morning stiffness and joint pain.
Teas brewed from Burdock root, Dandelion, and Red Clover promote healing by cleansing the bloodstream and enhancing immune function. Combine or alternate these herbal teas, and drink 4 to 6 cups daily.
Calendula or Rosemary oils (single or a combination of the two), diluted with an equal amount of water or vegetable oil and massaged into the skin, helps to relieve pain.
Topical applications of Cayenne (capsicum) powder mixed with Wintergreen oil can help relieve muscle pain. Cayenne contains capsaicin, a substance that appears to inhibit the release of neurotransmitters responsible for communicating pain sensations. Use 1 part cayenne powder to 3 parts wintergreen oil. Cayenne can also be taken orally, in capsule form.
Ginkgo Biloba improves circulation and brain function.
Kava Kava decreases anxiety and elevates the mood.
Licorice root supports the glandular system. Caution: If overused, licorice can elevate blood pressure . Do not use this herb on a daily basis for more than 7 days in a row. Avoid it if you have high-blood pressure (hypertension).
Milk Thistle protects the liver.
Pau D'Arco, taken in tea or table form, is good for treating candida infection.
Skullcap and Valerian root improve sleep.
DIET & NUTRITION RECOMMENDATIONS
Eat a well balanced diet of 50 percent raw foods and fresh "live" juices. The diet should consist mostly of vegetables, fruits, whole grains (primarily millet and brown rice), raw nuts and seeds, skinless turkey or chicken, and deep water fish. These quality foods supply nutrients that renew energy and build immunity.
Include Pomegranates and Pomegranate Juice in your diet. They have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Pomegranate juice is a sure cure for diarrhea. If blood passes with stool in diarrhea, this too will be stopped by the use of fresh pomegranate juice. Most stomach complaints respond positively to fresh pomegranates sprinkled with salt and pepper. Pomegranates are classified as sweet, sour and sweet-sour. They are highly nutritious and contain energy-giving proteins as well as lime, iron and phosphorus. Sour and sweet-sour pomegranates are very effective in relieving gastric heat and are particularly recommended for people with a bilious nature. Complaints of chest pain and chronic cough find immediate relief with the administration of pomegranate that has been treated with almond oil. The Pomegranate (Punica granatum I.) plant is rich with antioxidants and is a natural source of Vitamin C and Iron. Since ancient times pomegranate juice has been used as a natural astringent for treating diarrhea & harmful internal parasites. The pomegranate juice is believed to provide natural anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial benefits. Pomegranate Juice Concentrate is rich in estrogen. A powerful antioxidant great for skin and a cure for diarrhea.
Eat four to five small meals daily to keep a steady supply of protein and carbohydrates available for proper muscle function. If the body does not have enough fuel for energy, it will rob the muscles of essential nutrients, causing muscle wasting and pain.
Drink plenty of liquids to help flush out toxins. The best choices are steam-distilled or quality bottled spring water and herbal teas. Fresh vegetable juices supply necessary vitamins and minerals.
Limit your intake of green peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, and white potatoes. These foods contain solanine, which interferes with enzymes in the muscles, and may cause pain and discomfort.
Do not eat meat, dairy products, or any other foods that are high in saturated fats. saturated fats raise cholesterol levels and interfere with circulation. They also promote the inflammatory response and increase pain. Also avoid fried foods, processed foods, shellfish, and white flour products such as bread and pasta.
Do not consume any caffeine, alcohol, or sugar. Eating sugar in any form - including fructose and honey - promotes fatigue, increases pain, and disturbs sleep. If these substances have been a regular part of your diet, your symptoms may actually get worse for a short period as a result of the "withdrawal" effect, but after that, you should experience a noticeable improvement in your condition.
Avoid Brewer's Yeast and Wheat until your symptoms improve.
Use Wheatgrass retention enemas to detoxify the system. A rich source of many nutrients, the whole leave vegetable grass is then carefully dehydrated and made into a powder to ensure preservation of all its fragile nutritional elements. To make an enema, add 1 ounce of wheatgrass juice to 1 cup of warm water. If fresh wheatgrass is not available, use a tablespoon of powdered wheatgrass supplement. Wheatgrass powder is easy to mix into your favorite juice, water or smoothie. Use this treatment every other day for two weeks. Nutritional superior, Kamut Wheat Grass has more protein, lipids, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals than common wheat. ProGreens is an all-natural blended variety of "Super Foods" that provide broad-spectrum nutritional support from certified organic grasses and natural food factors not found in isolated vitamins or mineral concentrates. Sweet Wheat from Sweet Wheat, Inc. is a good substitute for fresh wheatgrass juice.
MoonDragon's Health Therapy: Enemas
Take Chlorophyll in tablet form or in "Green Drinks" such as Kyo-Green from Wakunaga of America. Spirutein from Nature's Plus is a good protein drink to use between meals to aid in maintaining energy levels and to reduce muscle pain. See Therapeutic Liquids and Drinks and Juicing for Nutrition for more information.
Spirutein is a good Protein drink to take between meals. Use Spirulina as an excellent protein source. Take spirulina tablets three times a day.
The following nutrients are important for healing once appropriate local treatment has been administered. Unless otherwise specified, the following recommended doses are for adults over the age of 18. For children between the ages of 12 and 17, reduce the dose to 3/4 the recommended amount. For children between the ages of 6 and 12 years old, reduce the dose to 1/2 the recommended amount. For children under 6 years old, use 1/4 the recommended amount.
NUTRIENTS Supplement Suggested Dosage Comments Essential Coenzyme Q-10 75 mg daily. Improves oxygenation of tissues. Enhances the effectiveness of the immune system and protects the heart. Coenzyme A As directed on label. Works with Coenzyme Q-10 and aids in the removal of toxic substances from the body. Facilitates the repair of RNA and DNA. Supports the immune system's detoxification of many dangerous substances. Can streamline metabolism, ease depression and fatigue, and increase energy. Acidophilus As directed on label. To replace necessary friendly bacteria destroyed by Candida. Also fights Candida infection. Chronic fatigue and Candidiasis often occur together. Candida infection is common in people with fibromyalgia. Use a non-dairy powder form. Lecithin 1 tablespoon granules 3 times daily, before meals.
1,200 mg capsules 3 times daily, with meals.
Promotes energy, enhances immunity, aids in brain function, and improves circulation. Malic Acid As directed on label. Involved in energy production in many cells of the body, including the muscel cells. Needed for sugar metabolism. Magnesium 500 to 1,000 mg daily in divided doses, after meals and at bedtime. Involved in energy production in many cells of the body, including the muscle cells. Needed for sugar metabolism. Needed to balance with Calcium. Manganese 5 mg daily. Take separately from calcium. Influences the metabolic rate by its involvement in the pituitary-hypothalamic-thyroid axix. Nicatinamide Adenine Dinucleotide
10 to 20 mg daily with water first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach. Studies have shown that it increases energy levels and aids in preventing depression. May take 2 to 3 weeks to work. Multi-Digestive Enzymes As directed on label, 6 times daily on empty stomach. Take with meals, between meals, and at bedtime. Proteolytic enzymes reduces inflammation and improves absorption of nutrients, especially protein, which is needed for tissue repair. Vitamin A 25,000 IU daily for one month, then slowly reduce to 10,000 IU daily. If you are pregnant, do not exceed 10,000 IU daily. Powerful free radical scavengers that protect the cells and enhance immune function to fight viruses. Use emulsion form for easier assimilation and greater safety at high doses. With
15,000 IU daily. Powerful free radical scavengers that protect the cells and enhance immune function to fight viruses. Vitamin E Start with 800 IU daily for 1 month, then slowly reduce to 200 IU daily. Powerful free radical scavenger that protect the body's cells and enhance immune function. Use d-alpha tocopherol form. Vitamin C
5,000 to 10,000 mg daily, in divided doses. Has a powerful antiviral effect and increases the energy level. Use a buffered form. Very Important Dimethylglycine
50 mg three times daily. Enhances oxygen utilization and destroys free radicals. 5-Hydroxy-L-Tryptophan
50 mg daily for one week, then increase to 100 mg daily. Enhances synthesis of serotonin in the brain. Excellent for pain relief. Caution: Do not use if you take an MAO inhibitor, commonly prescribed for depression. Free Form Amino Acid Complex As directed on label. To supply protein essential for repair and rebuilding of muscle tissue and for proper brain function. Use a formula containing all the essential amino acids. Garlic
Capsules: Take 2 capsules 3 times daily.
Liquid: As directed on label.
Include fresh garlic cloves in daily diet.
Promotes immune function and increases energy. Destroys common parasites and builds red blood cells. Kyo-Green As directed on label. Supplies balanced nutrients for quick energy. Improves digestion and cleanses the bloodstream. Pycnogenol
As directed on label. Powerful antioxidants that protect the muscles from free radical damage and pass the blood-brain barrier to protect brain cells. Enhances immunity. Methylsulfonylmethane
As directed on label. Provides support for tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Note:: Because this supplement contains sulfur, you may notice an odor to your urine. Use MSM cream or lotion externally to relieve pain. S-Adenosylmethionine
As directed on label. Aids in relief of stress and depression, eases pain, and produces antioxidant effects that can improve the health of your liver. Caution: Do not use if you have manic depressive disorder or take prescription antidepressants. Vitamin B-Complex 100 mg of each B-Vitamin daily, with meals 3 times daily (amounts of individual vitamins in a complex will vary). Or injections, 2 cc twice weekly or as prescribed by health care provider plus extra vitamin B-6, 1/2 cc twice weekly or as prescribed and vitamin B-12, 1 cc twice weekly or as prescribed, and liver extract, 2 cc twice weekly or as prescribed B vitamins are essential for increased energy levels and normal brain function. Injections are best. All injectables can be combined in a single syringe. If injections are not available or has been completed, use sublingual form for best results. Plus Extra
50 to 100 mg twice daily for 12 weeks until symptoms improve. Gradually lower dose by 25 mg weekly. Do not exceed this high dose amount, or nerve damage may result. A potent diuretic and relieves nerve disorders. Note: If you take any of the B-Vitamins individually, take the Vitamin B-complex at a different time of day. Vitamin B-12 2,000 mcg twice daily. To prevent anemia. A natural energy booster. All B-Vitamins work together. Use lozenge or sublingual form. Floradix Iron Plus Herbs
Raw Liver Extract
As directed on label. A good source of B-Vitamins and a non-toxic form of iron from natural food sources. Do not take an Iron supplement unless prescribed by health care provider. Important Calcium 2,000 mg daily. Strengthens the nervous system. Needed for proper functioning of all muscles, including the heart. Relieves muscle spasms and pain. Deficiencies are common in people with this disorder. Vitamin D 400 IU daily. Essential for repair and healing of tissue. Works with Calcium. Potassium 99 mg daily. All nutrients are needed in balance. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies have been associated with a lack of energy. Selenium 200 mcg daily. If you are pregnant, do not exceed 40 mcg daily. An important antioxidant. All nutrients are needed in balance. Works with Vitamin E. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies have been associated with a lack of energy. Caution: Do not take supplemental Selenium if you are pregnant or have heart, kidney, or liver disease. Zinc 50 mg daily. Do not exceed a total of 100 mg daily from all supplements. Needed for proper function of immune system. Important in all enzyme systems and tissue repair. Plus
3 mg daily. Needed to balance with Zinc. Chromium 200 to 400 mcg daily. To help balance blood sugar levels and aid in preventing night sweats. Helps to build and maintain muscle mass. Creatine As directed on label. Do not take with fruit juices, as this combination produces creatinine, which is difficult for the kidneys to process. To combat muscle depletion. Should be used in conjunction with a balanced nutritious diet. DL-Phenylalanine
500 mg daily every other week. Can be very effective for controlling pain. Also increases mental alertness. Caution: Do not take this supplement if you are pregnant or nursing, suffer from panic attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure, or PKU. Essential Fatty Acids As directed on label 3 times daily, with meals. Protects agains cell damage. Helps reduce pain and fatigue. Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
As directed on label. For proper control of brain function and to control anxiety. GABA-Plus contains a combination of GABA, Inositol, and Niacinamide. Kelp Seaweed As directed on label. Contains minerals that support the thyroid. L-Leucine
500 mg daily, on an empty stomach. Take with water or juice. Do not take with milk. Take with 50 mg Vitamin B-6 and 100 mg Vitamin C for better absorption. These amino acids are found primarily in muscle tissue. They are available in combination formulas. See Amino Acids Index for more information. L-Tyrosine 500 to 1,000 mg daily, at bedtime. Helps to relieve depression and aids in relaxing the muscles. Caution: Do not take this supplement if you are taking an MAO inhibitor. Melatonin As directed on label, taken 2 hours or less before bedtime. A powerful antioxidant that also aids sleep. A natural sleep-regulating hormone that is helpful for promoting sound, restful sleep. A sustained release formula is best. Multivitamin
As directed on label. Take with a Carotene Complex All nutrients are needed in balance. Use a high potency, hypoallergenic formula. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies have been associated with a lack of energy. Raw Glandular Complex
Raw Spleen Glandulars
As directed on label for each glandular. Stimulates glandular function, especially the thymus (site of T-lymphocyte production). To boost the immune system. See Gland Therapy. Maitake
Use as directed on label. To build immunity and boost energy levels. Taurine 500 mg daily, on an empty stomach. An important antioxidant and immune system regulator necessary for white blood cell activation and neurological function. Vanadyl Sulfate As directed on label. Protects the muscles and reduces overall body fatigue.
NOTIFY YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER
You have had the following symptoms for at least 3 months without an obvious cause. They may be signs of fibromyalgia, especially if they have developed gradually:
It is normal to have sore muscles when you overexert yourself. This pain usually will go away after a couple of days. If you think you are injured and the muscle or joint pain does not go away in a few days, talk with your health care provider.
- Widespread muscle tenderness and pain, particularly on both sides of the body and both above and below the waist.
- Disturbed sleep (tossing, turning, waking up frequently during the night) and waking up feeling tired and unrested.
- Muscle and joint stiffness that does not get better when you move around.
Not every health care provider will be comfortable diagnosing or treating the symptoms of fibromyalgia because it is still not a well-defined disorder. Be sure to seek a health care provider who is sensitive to your chronic pain, fatigue, and other symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. Those health professionals with the most experience in treating fibromyalgia include:
Other health professionals who may be able to manage your fibromyalgia include:
- Pain management specialists.
It can be helpful to participate in a multidisciplinary pain management program. This program includes a team comprised of your health care providers, counselors, nurses, and pharmacists who will help you develop a strategy for pain management. Your personal program may include medications, complementary therapies, diet, exercise, and counseling.
- Family practitioners.
- Nurse practitioners.
- Physician's assistants.
CONSIDERATIONS & HELPFUL INFORMATION
Chronic pain sufferers, especially those with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, tend to be deficient in magnesium.
Common pain killers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen are not usually effective at relieving the pain of fibromyalgia. Other approaches, including attention to diet, exercise, and nutritional supplementation are more likely to be of benefit.
There is no FDA-approved treatment for fibromyalgia, but there are now two studies that indicate a majority of people who suffer from the disorder can find relief by taking duloxetine (Cymbalta), an antidepressant drug. A report on the latest study of the drug was reported in the medical journal Arthritis and Rheumatism. Duloxetine may be effective because it works by boosting levels of two neurotransmitters that play a role in pain processing.
Many different disorders can cause symptoms similar to those of fibromyalgia, including anemia, depression, hepatitis, and Lyme disease, among others. Anyone who experiences muscular pain and/or fatigue that persists for longer than a week or two should consult a health care provider. There may be an underlying medical disorder that requires treatment.
Recent research points to the possible involvement of chemical and/or food sensitivities in fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and the pain associated with these disorders. This would hardly be surprising, as humans have been exposed to more chemicals in the last 50 years than in all the rest of our history combined.
Studies are being conducted on the possible role of a genetic drug that interferes with the formation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP, the source of cellular energy) in this disorder.
Some experts suggest that people with fibromyalgia should avoid salt-free diets.
Plant sterols and sterolins (plant fats that are present in fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts) stimulate the immune system, thus helping the body fight off infection.
Because malabsorption problems are common in this disorder, all nutrients are needed in greater than normal amounts, and a proper diet is essential. Colon cleansing may be recommended to rid the gastrointestinal tract of mucus and debris, and so improve nutrient absorption. See Colon Cleansing Therapy for more information.
Many health care providers prescribe low-dose antidepressants for fibromyalgia. These drugs can be beneficial in some cases, but can also cause a number of side effects, such as drowsiness. Other medical treatments that may or may not be of help to any given individual include muscle relaxants and/or local anesthetic sprays or injections for relief of pain. The anti-anxiety drug Lorazepam (Ativan) is sometimes prescribed as well. These drugs can cause a loss of equilibrium.
Physical therapy, relaxation techniques, exercise therapy, massage therapy, deep heat therapy, and biofeedback are all helpful in some cases. Massage therapy is particularly beneficial for improved muscle function and pain relief. If you are diagnosed with fibromyalgia, it is wise to seek out a health care provider who has specific experience in the management and treatment of this condition.
Food allergies can exacerbate the discomfort of many disorders. See Allergies for more information.
See Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Depression for more information about these conditions.
See Pain Control Therapies for more information.
HELPFUL ORGANIZATIONS WITH FIBROMYALGIA INFORMATION
P.O. Box 31750
Tucson, AZ 85751
Web Address: www.fmnetnews.com/
The Fibromyalgia Network provides educational materials on fibromyalgia syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome.
P.O. Box 7669
Atlanta, GA 30357-0669
Phone: (404) 872-7100
Web Address: www.arthritis.org
The Arthritis Foundation provides grants to help find a cure, prevention, or better treatment for arthritis. It also provides a large number of community-based services nationwide to make living with arthritis easier, including self-help courses; water and land-based exercise classes; support groups; home study groups; instructional videotapes; public forums; free educational brochures and booklets; the national, bimonthly consumer magazine Arthritis Today.
National Fibromyalgia Research Association (NFRA)
P.O. Box 500
Salem, OR 97302
Web Address: www.nfra.net/IntrNfra.htm
This organization is involved in making the public, the medical community, and the government more aware of fibromyalgia. Its Web site is also a good source of information.
FIBROMYALGIA & RELATED PRODUCTS
Information, supplements and products for fibromyalgia syndrome, a chronic condition characterized by fatigue and extreme muscle pain.
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AROMATHERAPY: ESSENTIAL OILS DESCRIPTIONS & USES
Allspice Leaf Oil Angelica Oil Anise Oil Baobab Oil Basil Oil Bay Laurel Oil Bay Oil Benzoin Oil Bergamot Oil Black Pepper Oil Chamomile (German) Oil Cajuput Oil Calamus Oil Camphor (White) Oil Caraway Oil Cardamom Oil Carrot Seed Oil Catnip Oil Cedarwood Oil Chamomile Oil Cinnamon Oil Citronella Oil Clary-Sage Oil Clove Oil Coriander Oil Cypress Oil Dill Oil Eucalyptus Oil Fennel Oil Fir Needle Oil Frankincense Oil Geranium Oil German Chamomile Oil Ginger Oil Grapefruit Oil Helichrysum Oil Hyssop Oil Iris-Root Oil Jasmine Oil Juniper Oil Labdanum Oil Lavender Oil Lemon-Balm Oil Lemongrass Oil Lemon Oil Lime Oil Longleaf-Pine Oil Mandarin Oil Marjoram Oil Mimosa Oil Myrrh Oil Myrtle Oil Neroli Oil Niaouli Oil Nutmeg Oil Orange Oil Oregano Oil Palmarosa Oil Patchouli Oil Peppermint Oil Peru-Balsam Oil Petitgrain Oil Pine-Long Leaf Oil Pine-Needle Oil Pine-Swiss Oil Rosemary Oil Rose Oil Rosewood Oil Sage Oil Sandalwood Oil Savory Oil Spearmint Oil Spikenard Oil Swiss-Pine Oil Tangerine Oil Tea-Tree Oil Thyme Oil Vanilla Oil Verbena Oil Vetiver Oil Violet Oil White-Camphor Oil Yarrow Oil Ylang-Ylang Oil Aromatherapy
Healing Baths For Colds
Using Essential Oils
AROMATHERAPY: HERBAL & CARRIER OILS DESCRIPTIONS & USES
Almond, Sweet Oil Apricot Kernel Oil Argan Oil Arnica Oil Avocado Oil Baobab Oil Black Cumin Oil Black Currant Oil Black Seed Oil Borage Seed Oil Calendula Oil Camelina Oil Castor Oil Coconut Oil Comfrey Oil Evening Primrose Oil Flaxseed Oil Grapeseed Oil Hazelnut Oil Hemp Seed Oil Jojoba Oil Kukui Nut Oil Macadamia Nut Oil Meadowfoam Seed Oil Mullein Oil Neem Oil Olive Oil Palm Oil Plantain Oil Plum Kernel Oil Poke Root Oil Pomegranate Seed Oil Pumpkin Seed Oil Rosehip Seed Oil Safflower Oil Sea Buckthorn Oil Sesame Seed Oil Shea Nut Oil Soybean Oil St. Johns Wort Oil Sunflower Oil Tamanu Oil Vitamin E Oil Wheat Germ Oil
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