Do you suffer from fibromyalgia? Did you know that 80–90 percent of the people suffering from the disease are women?
Many women who suffer from the condition go undiagnosed. And its causes are unclear. One would think that since the condition primarily affects women, there must be a hormonal component.
This certainly can be one aspect. However, it is believed that there is more than one trigger for this debilitating condition.
Hallmark Symptoms Of Fibromyalgia
Before exploring some of the suspected causes of fibromyalgia, it is important to look at the constellation of symptoms of this condition. These include the following:
The diagnosis is made by a process of exclusion. In other words, everything else is ruled out and blood testing is often normal.
Other manifestations of fibromyalgia include sleep disturbance; restless legs; chronic fatigue; irritable bowel; depression; menstrual pain; headaches; and sensitivity to lights, loud noises, and temperature.
Causes Of Fibromyalgia
Although the cause remains unclear, it has been linked to trauma, emotional and/or physical. There can be an imbalance in hormones, metabolism, and brain chemical function. It has been found that people who suffer from fibromyalgia have less activity on their opioid receptors in the brain and therefore are less likely to respond to an opioid mediction for treating pain.
2. Stress Response
People with fibromyalgia may have lower serotonin, norepinephrine, and cortisol. All of these will impact a person’s ability to respond to stress. Some studies suggest there may also be a lower level of insulin-like growth hormone. This can cause cold intolerance, fatigue, and muscle weakness.
3. Other Conditions
Fibromyalgia may appear at first to resemble autoimmune conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Some health experts believe fibromyalgia can be the result of untreated thyroid and adrenal dysfunction. One of the most promising theories is that fibromyalgia may have Epstein Barr or Lyme disease as a trigger.
Several years ago, I had one of my own patients bring this theory to light. She had shared with me the works of fibromyalgia expert, Dr. Daniel Dantini, M.D. He proposed that chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia could have a virus or viruses that are contributing to the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
These viruses include Epstein-Barr, Cytomegalovirus, Human Herpes Type VI, and Parvovirus B19. Through a simple blood test, it can be determined if a person has had these viruses at some point and time.
Treating With Anti-Virals
The belief is that these viruses can still be playing havoc on the body. So if this is the case, can treating a person with anti-virals put the virus into remission?
My patient asked if I would treat her fibromyalgia based on this premise. She was incapacitated by the condition and was on anti-depressants, anxiety medications, sleeping pills, and pain medications. Let me just say, today she is on none of these and is free of the paralyzing symptoms of fibromyalgia.
But I must warn you that this was not the case in every patient. However, many women have benefited from this treatment and in my experience, when it works, women have seen an 80% improvement in their symptoms. There is ongoing research looking at anti-virals as an efficacious treatment option.
Commonly Prescribed Medications
Most other treatments have had mixed results and are plagued with potential side effects. This would include various drugs such as pregabalin and duloxetine.
- Pregabalin, commercially known as Lyrica, is an anticonvulsant; it treats fibromyalgia-related pain and improves the ability to perform daily tasks. It may cause dizziness drowsiness, swelling, and weight gain.
- Duloxetine, commercially known as Cymbalta, is an antidepressant. Its side effects include nausea, insomnia, and dizziness. These drugs need to be prescribed and should be used with close medical supervision.
Antidepressants are generally recommended to relieve fibromyalgia symptoms, but they do not effectively treat the chronic pain associated with the disease.
Yoga, breathing techniques, acupuncture, acupressure, massage, cognitive behavior therapy, biofeedback, relaxation techniques, aromatherapy, and myofacial release therapy can help alleviate fibromyalgia symptoms.
1. Healthy Lifestyle
Healthy practices are also an important component and should not be left out. While pain and fatigue may make a regular exercise challenging, it is a proven means to maintain mobility and build functional fitness levels.
2. Healthy Diet
Consuming a healthy diet is also important. This will help reduce inflammation that can worsen pain. Remove sugar and processed foods, eliminate food intolerances such as gluten and dairy, and eat organic whole foods.
3. Good Sleep
Ensuring you get the appropriate amount of restful sleep eases fibromyalgia pain. The quality of the sleep is equally important to the length of time a person sleeps; on average, most adults require 7–8 hours of sleep.
It is clear to see that fibromyalgia can be very debilitating. If you experience, four or more of the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia for three months or more, seek medical attention. Even if it isn’t fibromyalgia, the symptoms may indicate that something serious is amiss with the body.
As discussed here, there are multiple treatment options. Consult with your medical care provider to determine the appropriate course of treatment for you.
|↑1||Fibromyalgia, University of Maryland Medical Center|
|↑2||Pridgen, William, Carol Duffy, Judith Gendreau, and Michael R. Gendreau. “A Combination of Celecoxib and Famciclovir Is Efficacious in the Treatment of Fibromyalgia: Results of a Phase Iia Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study.” Arthritis & Rheumatology 66 (2014): S826-S827.|