Fibromyalgia (FMS) is a pain disorder that affects muscles and soft tissues such as tendons and ligaments.
- It is considered to be the most common cause of generalized musculoskeletal pain in women ages 20-55.
- Its prevalence in the US is about 2%, and increases with age.
- An estimated 3-6 million people have the disorder.
- It is 10 times more common in women than in men.
- The cause of fibromyalgia is not known.
- Although the cause remains unclear, there are alterations in sleep patterns, changes in neurotransmitters such as serotonin, substance P, growth hormone and cortisol which suggest that problems with the autonomic and neuroendocrine systems may be the basis of the syndrome
- In about 50% of cases, fibromyalgia symptoms appeared after a specific event such as trauma or flu-like illness.
- Symptoms can be related to food sensitivities, low adrenal function, nutrient deficiencies, metabolic disorders, and more.
- People with fibromyalgia may have impaired liver detoxification systems.
People may experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- Widespread musculoskeletal pain, including neck, back, chest, arms, and legs
- Pain that is often worse with exertion, stress, lack of sleep, and weather changes.
- Sensations of numbness, tingling, burning or crawling.
- Light, unrefreshing sleep
- Light-headedness, dizziness, feeling faint
- Short-term memory loss
- Low-grade fever
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Frequent abdominal pain
- Any many more…
Conditions that commonly occur along with fibromyalgia syndrome include:
- Migraine headache
- Chronic fatigue
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Restless legs syndrome
- Temporomandibular joint syndrome
- Myofascial pain syndrome
- General musculoskeletal and neurological examination to rule out other causes of symptoms
- Palpation of multiple defined tender points which are bilateral and symmetrical.
- There is no single lab test that diagnoses fibromyalgia.
- Labs may include (depending on symptoms):
- Blood count
- Chemistry panel
- Sedimentation rate (measures inflammation)
- Thyroid function tests
- Muscle enzymes
- Anti-nuclear antibody (ANA)
- Rheumatoid factor (RF)
- Vitamin D level
- Adrenal hormone study
- Magnesium level
- Insulin levels
- Blood sugar levels (Hgba1c)
- Homocysteine level
- Thiamine level
- Physical findings include:
- To be classified with a definitive diagnosis of FMS, the patient must have tenderness on palpation at 11 of the 18 sites and a history of generalized pain with no anatomical cause.
- EEGs of patients with fibromyalgia show disturbances of non-REM sleep with infrequent progression to stage 3 and stage 4 sleep (deeper sleep stages).
- Release of growth hormone, which occurs primarily during stage 3 and stage 4 of sleep, is reduced in one third of patients with FMS, as demonstrated by low insulin growth factor (IGF) levels, an indication of low growth hormone secretion.
- Increased substance P levels (a neurotransmitter associated with enhanced pain perception) in cerebrospinal fluid to three times normal levels.
- Increased homocysteine levels in cerebrospinal fluid.
- Alteration in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis with low overall production of cortisol.
- Significant prevalence of neurally-mediated hypotension during tilt table testing.
- History, testing and examination to rule out other possible causes of symptoms such as hypothyroidism, drug-induced myopathies (particularly those associated with the statin class of lipid-lowering agents), polymyalgia rheumatica and other rheumatologic syndromes, and myofascial pain syndrome.
What Is the Best Treatment for FMS?
Conventional Treatment for Fibromyalgia
Natural Treatment for Fibromyalgia
What Should You Do Next?
The doctors at The Connecticut Center for Health are quite experienced in how to treat fibromyalgia.
If you would like to learn more about natural medicine approaches to fibromyalgia, contact one of our clinics for a free consultation or an appointment.
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