The Skinny On Fibromyalgia
Many times the condition of Fibromyalgia raises many more questions than it ever does answers. This can be highly frustrating for those who are trying to find a diagnosis or for those who have already been diagnosed with the condition of Fibromyalgia. The important thing to remember is that while many people view the condition of Fibromyalgia as being “all in the head” it is a real medical condition with real medical symptoms and treatment options must be carefully considered. The following is a list of some of the most common questions about Fibromyalgia in an attempt to make individuals more aware of the condition of Fibromyalgia. Knowledge is the key to many things, and knowledge of the condition of Fibromyalgia will only help those who suffer from the condition to be able to understand it better and in turn find more successful treatment options.
It is speculated that the fibromyalgia syndrome affects about 2 percent of the U.S.population. In 1990, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) listed two primary criteria for the classification of fibromyalgia. 1) A history of widespread pain involving all four quadrants of the body (right side, left side, above waist, below waist) for a period of at least 3 months. The second criteria from the ACR which points to fibromyalgia is, upon physical examination, the presence of pain in at least 11 of 18 tender points when touched or pressed with force.
More recent data indicates that there may be an increased sensitivity to pain throughout the body, pain may be migratory (move around) or may exist as chronic regional pain. Most experts are said to believe fibromyalgia results from abnormal central nervous system function. Response to stress and psycho-behavioral factors may also contribute to fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia primarily occurs in women of childbearing age. Children, the elderly, and men can also be affected. Besides the defining symptoms of pain and stiffness, there are many non-defining symptoms associated with fibromyalgia including:
- Fatigue, night sweats and sleep disturbances.
- Memory difficulties and cognitive difficulties.
- Tension or migraine headaches, temporomandibular joint syndrome, rib cage pain, chronic pelvic pain, plantar or heel pain.
- Fluctuations in weight, heat or cold intolerance, subjective feeling of weakness.
- Ear-nose-throat complaints, multiple chemical sensitivities and a wide array of allergic symptoms.
- Hearing, vision, and vestibular abnormalities.
- Heartburn, palpitations and irritable bowel syndrome.
- Evidence on echocardiogram of mitral valve prolapse, esophageal dysmotility, neurologic conditions causing hypotension and syncope.
- Mood disorders such as depression and anxiety occur more commonly in people who have fibromyalgia.
Making The Pain Worse
If there is one thing that any Fibromyalgia sufferer wants to avoid at all costs it is the possibility of exacerbating their symptoms or making them worse. There is some research that has suggested that there are two categories of medication which should be avoided by Fibromyalgia sufferers whenever possible:
- ACE Inhibitors – By and large, ACE inhibitors are used to treat high blood pressure but in turn can increase Substance P or pain perception; therefore if ACE inhibitors are suggested because of the need to treat high blood pressure, an excellent alternative would be switching to an ARB inhibitor as well as changing the diet in order to help reduce high blood pressure. This will not increase your Fibro pain and agony.
- Statins – Statins are usually used to help lower cholesterol can also cause increased pain in Fibromyalgia sufferers. Excellent alternatives to those who are needing assistance with cholesterol lowering but also suffer from Fibromyalgia is the use of Coenzyme Q10, and of course changes in diet and exercise which will help to decrease the total number of cholesterol as well.
Now Making It Better
Because Fibromyalgia sufferers will all have varying degrees of symptoms the condition can be extremely difficult to treat. There is no one size fits all approach to Fibromyalgia treatment; instead it is best to approach treatment options that are more personalized for each individual Fibromyalgia sufferer. Some of the most common forms of treatment for Fibromyalgia include prescription medications, supplemental therapies and treatment which include lifestyle changes or alternative treatments.
- Alternative Treatments can include the use of chiropractic care, massage, acupuncture, or movement therapies such as Yoga or relaxation techniques.
- Prescription Medications can include the use of Analgesics, Non-Hormoneal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), Anti-depressants and Benzodiazepines.
- Lifestyle Changes should include in your everyday life regular exercise, proper diet and nutrition, changes that will help to improve sleep, reduce fatigue as well as the general practice of reducing or elimination of stress wherever possible.
- Supplemental Therapies can include the use of Vitamin D, Fish Oil, SAMe, Ribose, Magnesium, Brown Seaweed Extract, also 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP).