New Developments in Diagnosis and Treatment
Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) is a widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue disorder for which the cause is still unknown. The word Fibromyalgia means pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons and yet the medical profession categorizes this condition as a form of arthritis, which is actually a disease of bones and joints. Fibromyalgia is also known as chronic fatigue syndrome and is sometimes placed in the same category as the Epstein Barr Virus which has almost all of the same symptoms. If every muscle in your body seems to burn and scream out with pain, if you feel constantly sleep deprived, if you have constant headaches and always feel stressed out and along with all that you have irritable bowel syndrome, your doctor will diagnose your condition as fibromyalgia. However, if you have been diagnosed with FMS by your family physician, it is quite possible that you may not have this condition at all. What most physicians are not aware of is that there are two definitive tests that will either confirm your condition or totally rule it out.
If your doctor tells you that you have Fibromyalgia or he thinks you may have it, you MUST see a neurologist. This specialist will send you to a hospital for a spinal tap which is a procedure in which a sample of cerebral spinal fluid is removed from your spine. This is the fluid that carries all of the messages to and from all of the muscles of your body, voluntary and involuntary between your body parts and your brain. More than 80% of people who truly have FMS have higher levels of cerebral spinal fluid in their brain. This results in poor signaling to all the muscles of the body leaving them without proper stimulation and thus in constant pain. Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. The pain of the muscle of a body part causes you to rest those muscles until they heal. This prevents further damage. Fibromyalgia pain is an indicator of a reduction of electrical stimulation and if an accident caused compete blockage of cerebral spinal fluid you would be paralyzed. If your cerebral spinal fluid levels are normal, you most probably do not have FMS and your physician must look deeper for the causes of your symptoms.
The second test would involve going to a sleep clinic and being totally wired up in order to measure your sleep patterns. Patients with FMS fall asleep as easily as anybody else. The problem is that as they progress through their sleep cycle from Stage 1 to Stage 4, deep sleep, they suddenly wake up just before they reach stage 5, which is REM (rapid eye movement sleep). Without REM sleep which is the sleep cycle in which you dream, you never have a proper sleep, never exorcise all the demons of the day and become sleep deprived and fatigued.
It is very important to try and determine if your FMS slowly crept up on you over the years or if the onset was sudden. In rare cases, a sneeze, a fall or even whip-lash could have been a factor that caused a very active, full-of-energy type person to suddenly become fatigued, lethargic and unable to even work. Once again, only the neurologist can use ultra sound or CAT scan technology to determine if this accident actually caused a blockage that created the imbalance of cerebral spinal fluid. If this is the case, a very simple operation can correct the procedure and all your symptoms will disappear once the cerebral spinal fluid is flowing evenly between your brain and your spinal chord.
Many people may think they have Fibromyalgia but they have never been specifically told what their diagnosis is. In some cases, the physician, out of frustration simply dismisses the patient and says that you must have fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome because they cannot think of anything else. The following are the symptoms of FMS but is important to remember that having one or two or even all of these symptoms means nothing without a definitive diagnostic test of your spinal fluid.
Pain – The pain of FMS has no boundaries. It has been described as deep muscular aching, throbbing, and stabbing. Intense burning may also be present. The pain and stiffness are worse in the morning because your blood pressure and circulation are at their lowest levels when you wake up. If you ever had a horrible flu in which every muscle in your body shouted out in pain and you felt like someone had unplugged the power supply to your body, you know what it feels like to have fibromyalgia
Fatigue – Pain itself causes constant fatigue and even depression because it never seems to go away. People with FMS feel “brain fatigue” in which they are so totally drained of energy that they cannot even think simple thoughts through to their conclusions. They use the term brain fog and feel as if their arms and legs are constantly tied to cement blocks.
Sleep Disorder – As I mentioned earlier, most FMS patients fell asleep without any problem but their deep level (or Stage 4) sleep was constantly interrupted by bursts of awake-like brain activity which interfered with their REM sleep. They never feel as if they had a good night’s sleep and wake up in the morning feeling like they have been run over by a truck. Other symptoms shown by FMS patients are sleep apnea (stopping breathing in your sleep for a few minutes) or restless leg syndrome (nighttime jerking of the arms and legs).\
Irritable Bowel Syndrome – Because the cerebral spinal fluid is involved not only with voluntary skeletal muscles but also other muscles that are involuntary which are known as smooth wall muscles like those in your stomach or intestine, symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, abdominal gas and nausea are found in 40 to 70% of FMS patients.
Chronic Headaches – Recurrent migraine or tension-type headaches are diagnosed in about 50% of FMS patients and these migraines along with the severe skeletal muscle pain can at times make this condition almost unbearable. The bad news is that if you truly have FMS, pain relievers will not take away any of your pain because it is caused by lack of electrical stimulation from the cerebral spinal fluid.
Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction – This syndrome sometimes referred to as TMJ causes tremendous jaw-related face and head pain in about 25% of FMS patients. However, a 1997 published study indicated that close to 75% of FMS patients have varying degrees of jaw discomfort. Once again the muscles surrounding the jaw joint are not receiving the proper stimuli through your spinal cord
Officially there is no known treatment for Fibromyalgia but this does not stop the medical establishment from prescribing all kinds of drugs that will no doubt do more harm than good. As I mentioned earlier, pain relievers have no effect on the pain of FMS. Taking sleeping pills does not work because these medications actually interfere with your REM sleep so you still wake up fatigued in the morning. Tricyclic antidepressants, mainly amitriptyline are used in huge doses at night to try and relieve pain and help you sleep but they do not work at all. Other treatments include anti depressant drugs like Zoloft and Effexor and tranquilizers such as lorazepam and clonazepam and of course
Chiropractors who use spine manipulation can sometimes get more cerebral spinal fluid flowing through your spinal column thereby increasing the quality of signaling to your muscles. This will temporarily take away some of the pain and fatigue. The treatment never lasts for very long and involves constant trips to the chiropractor. Other complimentary therapies include massage therapy, acupuncture, myofacial release therapy (for jaw pain and headaches) yoga, relaxation exercises, biofeedback, cognitive therapy and even some supplements.
The most important supplement for a person suffering from Fibromyalgia is a product that contains Magnesium and Malic Acid in combination. With a lack of muscle stimulation caused by the decreased amount of cerebral spinal fluid, two ingredients, magnesium and malic acid are in very short supply and when we top up these two ingredients with supplements many of the symptoms seem to be reduced in their severity.
Because the increased cerebral spinal fluid in the brain of the FMS patient has a detrimental effect on serotonin and dopamine levels, supplements such as 5HTP (5-hydroxy-tryptophan) which increase serotonin levels have a positive effect. Another very important supplement is Omega 3 fish oil, the highest potency you can get. This increases electrical conductivity and helps alleviate some of the pain. Other supplements which help muscles are L-Carnitine and L-Arginine which are both important in delivering oxygen to the muscles and help in muscle recovery. It is very important that your multiple vitamin also contain all the essential minerals since these along with extra potassium have a profound effect on muscle stimulation and muscle contraction. For irritable bowel syndrome, taking two broad spectrum enzymes before a meal starts the process of digestion in your stomach and by the time your stomach empties, there is very little work to be done by your upper and lower intestines. You then take an acidophilus product after the meal and this finishes the digestion of anything left in the lower bowel and colon.
Exercise and Diet
Although it may be very painful to perform exercises, the Fibromyalgia patient must try as hard as possible and may have to endure high degrees of pain. However, even if you can only do two or three minutes at the onset, eventually you can build up to very high levels if you exercise every day. I have some fibromyalgia patients who visit my store that exercise so much, they are in much better condition than the average person. By exercising all the individual muscle groups, you actually bypass the stimulatory function of the cerebral spinal fluid and you can have great success in strengthening your skeletal muscles and alleviating pain. The most effective exercise is actually swimming because there is absolutely no impact on your joints and bones.
Many people with Fibromyalgia have had a lot of success with an almost raw diet. This consists of eating mostly raw vegetables or liquefying them in a juicer. Of course foods such as refined sugars, refined flours and all prepared food or fast food should be avoided. A diet rich in fruits in vegetables is not only very healthy but very hard to digest and if you go this route you must use the digestive enzymes and the acidophilus. If you still have digestive problems you can use a greens drink in place of some of your vegetables. It is rich in wheat grass, barley grass, alfalfa and a multitude of energy-giving nutrients that help to relieve some of the fatigue. Diet alone or exercise alone will not do it. They must be used together for maximum effect.
Fibromyalgia is a very difficult and debilitating disease. However, before you reconcile yourself to having this affliction, you must go to your neurologist and have all the requisite tests. This condition cannot be diagnosed by a family physician, a chiropractor, a naturopath, a homeopath or any self-taught practitioner who has some sort of home-made machine that claims it can measure your body’s responses.
The use of modern medicine and natural treatment are complimentary therapies which can be used together to achieve a state of health. You must use all the diagnostic tools provided by the medical profession in order to confirm your diagnosis. After that you can try to utilize natural healing methods to improve your condition and prescription drugs only when absolutely necessary.