Fibromyalgia

 

 

FIBROMYALGIA

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes widespread pain, stiffness, and tenderness throughout the body, often accompanied by fatigue and emotional distress. Symptoms of fibromyalgia may vary in severity, and many disappear for extended periods of time, even for years.

Fibromyalgia is often considered an arthritis related condition, but is not a form of arthritis as it does not cause inflammation or damage to the joints, muscles, or other tissues.

 

This condition affects 2 – 8% of people, mainly women in middle adulthood, but men and adolescents have been known to develop it too.

 

The cause of fibromyalgia is not yet known, but it appears to be a problem with the brain rather than the muscles and bones, where the brain of someone with fibromyalgia is more sensitive to certain external stimuli which normal people are not, and treats them as pain. Therefore the pain experienced in sufferers originates from the brain and not in the muscles or bones.

 

SYMPTOMS:

  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Sleep problems and disturbances
  • Stiffness, particularly in the morning
  • Emotional distress, anxiety, and depression
  • Increased responsiveness to stimuli such as heat, cold, light, and loud noises
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Overactive bladder
  • Painful menstruation
  • Headaches
  • Numbness and tingling in the arms, legs, and extremities
  • Swelling in arms and legs
  • Restless leg syndrome

 

CAUSES:

  • People with lupus or rheumatoid arthritis are more susceptible
  • Viruses, recent illness, or an infection
  • Pain from injury or trauma
  • Genetic predisposition and family history
  • Emotional stress and depression
  • Mood disorders such as bipolar
  • Substance abuse

 

TRIGGERS:

  • Weather changes
  • Physical labours and overexertion
  • Allergies
  • Mental stress
  • Infections
  • Other disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis

 

DIAGNOSIS:

Fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose because the condition does not cause any inflammation or damage and the muscles affected have been known to look and function normally.

There are no blood tests, scans, or x-rays that can be used to diagnose fibromyalgia, rather a doctor or rheumatologist will look for signs and symptoms, which have been ongoing for 3 months or more.

Doctors often have to rule out other potential causes of these symptoms before making a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

 

TREATMENT:

While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, symptoms can be easily treated and managed, and there will be no lasting damage to the joints and muscles.

  • Medication: such as medications to relieve pain, stress, depression, and promote sleep. Medications for treating depression an epilepsy have been found useful in fibromyalgia sufferers
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s): such as ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, and aspirin are used to treat inflammation, and more importantly, pain
  • There are 3 medications that have been approved in the U.S. to treat fibromyalgia. These are Duloxetine (used for treating depression), Milnacipran (similar to duloxetine – treats depression and fibromyalgia), and Pregabalin (used to treat neuropathic pain).
  • Exercise: This has been proven to be the most effective form of treatment for people with this condition. Gentle exercising such as walking, swimming, or bike riding is ideal
  • Stress management and relaxation
  • Yoga: aids with stress reduction and is a form of gentle exercise
  • Chiropractic treatments
  • Acupuncture
  • Meditation
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: to treat negative thinking patterns
  • Rest: Trying to get enough sleep per night and not overexerting one’s self can aid with symptoms
  • Massage: Aids in muscle relaxation and stress management
  • Diet: Eating a diet of healthy and unprocessed foods has been found to be beneficial, along with caffeine avoidance after lunch to help promote sleep

 

HERBS AND SUPPLEMENTS:

Certain herbs and supplements can be taken to alleviate the symptoms of fibromyalgia. These include:

 

  • 5-HTP supplements: The 5-HTP chemical is a building block for another chemical called serotonin, which helps regulate moods, and is associated with the treatment of depression and sleep disorders. 5-HTP promotes deeper, more restful sleep, and also reduces the pain associated with fibromyalgia. It also decreases the effect of anxiety and depression
  • Melatonin supplements: This supplement is used to induce drowsiness, deeper sleep, and improve sleep patterns, resulting in less disrupted sleep and sleep disturbances. It help alleviate the pain, fatigue, and sleep problems associated with fibromyalgia
  • St John’s Wort: This herb is used to treat depression, and is said to have a beneficial effect on fibromyalgia sufferers
  • Chamomile: This herb has a calming effect on people, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, and also aids with inducing sleep
  • Ginger: Ginger is used to calm upset stomachs and improves poor circulation, which is a side effect often seen in people with fibromyalgia. It also boost certain properties of other herbs, such as their anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving properties
  • Cayenne pepper: This food contains a chemical called Capsaicin which is beneficial in fibromyalgia sufferers as it reduces the intensity of pain signals sent from the nerves when used topically
  • Willow bark: This herb is a natural pain killer and can be taken as a substitute for drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen without the ill side effects like stomach upset that they can cause
  • Ginseng: This herb increases energy, alleviates fatigue, and relieves stress, anxiety, and depression. It also boosts the immune system, reducing the likelihood of viruses and bacterial infections
  • Lavender: This herb is particularly effective in treating insomnia and promoting sleep
  • Valerian: This herb is a well-known relaxant, used for reducing stress, promoting sleep, and even alleviating pain
  • Passionflower: This herb is known to reduce stress, tension, nervousness, fatigue, anxiety, and sleep disturbances
  • Griffonia Simplicifolia: This herb contains high levels of the chemical 5-HTP which is an effective pain killer. It is also a natural relaxant, and is helpful in reducing stress
  • Kava kava: This is used to treat stress, anxiety, and nervousness. It reduces mental strain while improving concentration as well
  • Vitamin D: Studies have found that many people who suffer from not only fibromyalgia, but generalized aches and pains too, are often deficient in their levels of Vitamin D. When taken as a supplement, or found in foods, it has been effective in relieving pain
  • Sam-e: Sam-e is an amino acid which helps to produce and breakdown neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine which are brain hormones that help to regulate mood
  • Magnesium: Studies found that magnesium deficiency can cause muscle aches, pains, and spasms, which are common symptoms for fibromyalgia. This element can be found in food, particularly in green vegetables, beans, an whole grains, or taken as a supplement in tablet form
  • Other herbal sedatives which can be used to treat the stress, anxiety, and depression associated with this condition include: Cramp Bark, California Poppy, Milky Oats, Skullcap, Lemon Balm, and Vervain
  • Adaptogen herbs help to reduce stress, promote sleep at night, and increase energy during the day. More examples of these include: Codonopsis, Astragalus, Holy Basil, Ashwagandha, Shatavari, Eleuthero, Rhodiola, Reishi mushroom, and Licorice root
  • Anodyne herbs are used to treat and dull pain and common examples of these herbs are: Yarrow, Clove, Cow Parsnip, Arnica, Cottonwood, and Belladonna
  • Immunomodulating herbs are often used to support the immune system and help greatly with people who have autoimmune diseases. More examples of these herbs include: Astragalus, Reishi, Tulsi, Shitake, and Cordyceps

 

REFERENCES:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fibromyalgia

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/fibromyalgia

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/fibromyalgia

http://www.mydr.com.au/pain/fibromyalgia

http://painhealth.csse.uwa.edu.au/pain-condition-fibromyalgia.html

http://www.move.org.au/Conditions-and-Symptoms/Fibromyalgia/Exercise

https://emerge.org.au/about-mecfs/diagnosis/related-conditions/fibromyalgia-fm/#.WC5V28ndWq0

http://rheumatology.org.au/downloads/Fibromyalgia_000.pdf

http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/fibromyalgia/

http://www.anniesremedy.com/chart_remedy_fibromyalgia.php

http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/fibromyalgia-natural-remedies#newsletterSlide

http://www.herbs-info.com/herbs-for-fibromyalgia.html

http://www.everydayhealth.com/fibromyalgia/treating/treating-fibromyalgia-with-supplements.aspx

http://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/herbal-energetics.html#relaxing-nervine

http://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/herbal-energetics.html#adaptogen

http://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/herbal-energetics.html#anodyne

http://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/herbal-energetics.html#immunomodulating