Fibromyalgia has been referred to as fibromyalgia syndrome, fibromyositis, and fibrositis. It is a recently named syndrome that affects 3% to 5% of the general population. It occurs in people of all ages and consists of several different and debilitating symptoms that affect a persons’ physical, mental, and social life. Men are affected but more women are diagnosed. Those with severe symptoms find it difficult or impossible to do even the most basic everyday tasks and up to ¼ of those diagnosed are work disabled. The first drug treatment for fibromyalgia was approved in 2007 and more is being learned everyday.
Symptoms for fibromyalgia include deep excruciating pain all over the body especially in the muscles, insomnia, sleeplessness and sleep disorders, fatigue, brain fog, memory and concentration problems, irritable bowel syndrome, abnormal pain processing, headaches and migraines, jaw pain, nerve pain and weakness, depression, and anxiety. People also experience tender spots and muscle knots which radiate pain and can severely restrict movement.
To diagnose fibromyalgia can be a tricky since the patient looks healthy and tests came back normal. Diagnosis has also been controversial because there is no one thing that points to, nor is there one test that can be performed to come to a simple diagnosis of fibromyalgia.
It was once thought that the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia were all in the person’s head and was not fully accepted as a diagnosis until the 1990’s. Some symptoms can be very similar to other syndromes and diseases so doctors will use a process of eliminating other causes and following certain diagnostic criteria established by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) in 1990. This criteria includes a history of widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body, meaning above and below your waist and on both sides of your body, for a minimum of 3 months and pain in 11 out of the 18 specially chosen tender points when a specific amount of pressure is applied.
There is no specific known cause although some theories indicate physical and emotional trauma in childhood, stress, disruption of normal dopamine-related neurotransmission, abnormal serotonin metabolism, abnormal levels of tryptophan and a protein involved in transmitting pain signals from the nerves to the brain called substance P, deficiencies in growth hormone secretion, vitamin deficiencies such as B and D, and genetic predisposition among others.
Relief from fibromyalgia comes from treating the symptoms individually rather than the syndrome as a whole. Some drugs are helpful in relieving symptoms but lose their effectiveness over time and have uncomfortable or dangerous side effects. The best way to get relief is by combining the many options out there such as dietary changes, pain medications, high-quality nutritional supplements, massage therapy, acupuncture, yoga, exercise, stretching, counseling, support groups, and for a time if necessary the dangerous ones, anti-depressants and sleep drugs.
The best and most fundamental way to find relief is through nutrition. There is documented evidence and scientific proof that nutrition is the way to heal our bodies. The problem is pharmaceutical companies and government make big money off all these drugs that come with a laundry list of side effects worse than the malady they mask.
Fibromyalgia and diet go hand-in-hand. The first thing to do is to stay away from processed foods and food preservatives, caffeine, coffee, caffeinated tea, soda, a lot of red meat (your body needs some), chocolate/cocoa, alcohol, fried foods, white flour, sugar, gluten, wheat, yeast, high fat dairy products, salt, nutra-sweet and saccharine, and smoking.
The next thing to do is add nutrition; take into account the food you eat along with supplements. Eat 5 to 6 smaller meals through the day that include more raw and steamed vegetables, fatty fish and seafood (be careful of contaminants), yogurt, soups, beans, legumes, simple proteins like chicken, fresh garlic, and nuts such as almonds. Drink lots of water and get a juicer to make your own fresh juice. Reduce your fat intake but do not go to the extreme with a diet too low in fat; fat is needed for muscles to work properly and provides energy.
Nutritional supplements are important because they provide your body with specific nutrients too difficult to get through diet alone especially when you are deficient to begin with. Because there are so many parts of the body affected by fibromyalgia, there are many different supplements that your body will benefit form. Here is a list of important supplements that could help control symptoms of fibromyalgia.
A vitamin/mineral supplement is important to start with. For immune support antioxidants are essential; up to 10,000 mg daily of vitamin C, 400 IU to 800 IU daily of vitamin E (if you have high blood pressure, limit E to 400 IU daily or if you are taking a blood thinner consult your doctor before supplementing with E), 200 micrograms selenium, some suggest up to 5,000 IU to 10,000 IU daily of beta-carotene daily (if you are pregnant or have liver disease ask your doctor before taking a lot of beta-carotene which is pre-vitamin A), quercetin, and grape seed extracts such as those in VIVX, to start with.
For improved muscle and nerve function, as well as relaxation and to control anxiety and pain, just 500 mg of magnesium inhibits nerve receptors linked to the trigger point pain and regulates the release of neuro-hormones, which relieves muscle tension and spasms, as well as restlessness, tics and twitches (if you have heart or kidney problems double check with your doctor what amount of magnesium you should supplement with, if any). For energy, mood management and nerve function B complex helps bring oxygen to cells, works closely with folic acid to make red blood cells, improve energy, and prevent anemia, memory loss, nerve damage, muscle weakness, and fatigue.
Folic acid is usually deficient in fibromyalgia patients, this leads to depression and makes Prozac treatment less effective; which is a common antidepressant given to fibromyalgia patients. Coenzyme Q10 helps deliver oxygen to cells. To help with joint aches, anti-inflammatory, and pain alfalfa, EPA, omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and quercetin. As well as fiber, protein, zinc, pro and pre-biotics, GLA essential fatty acid, calcium, vitamin D, bioflavonoids, and lecithin for cognitive function.
Eat small nutritious meals, take supplements, allow yourself many breaks, stretch often, apply hot and/or cold packs, do relaxation exercises, massage therapy, seek out a group who knows what you’re going through. While there is no single cure or treatment for fibromyalgia, treatment of the symptoms can go a long way in finding relief. Not too long ago fibromyalgia was thought of as something in people’s heads, now there is a path to treatment. More studies are being done and soon maybe a single cause can be found and treated.
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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