If you or someone you know suffers from fibromyalgia, then you know how frustrating this medical condition can be. Often misunderstood because of the large variance in symptoms, fibromyalgia is characterized by chronic and widespread musculoskeletal pain. Other common symptoms include fatigue, sleep problems, joint stiffness, anxiety, depression, dry eyes and mouth, headaches, dizziness, Raynaud’s syndrome and cognitive impairment.
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
For the last twenty years, scientists have been struggling to find a cause for this somewhat mysterious disease. Various theories exist, including heavy metal toxicity, growth hormone deficiency, emotional trauma, bacterial infections, nutritional deficiencies, and sleep dysfunction.
The latest findings reveal that fibromyalgia may be a central processing disorder. This means that when you have this condition, you experience an amplification in pain due to abnormal sensory processing in the central nervous system. So, those that suffer have a lower pain threshold because of an increased sensitivity to pain signals.
Triggers and Treatment
Fibromyalgia appears to be a condition of triggers. In other words, certain things may trigger onset. This may be an emotional trauma, infection, surgery, illness, or the development of another disorder such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. These triggers do not cause fibromyalgia, but awaken an already present abnormality.
Unfortunately, the most common approach to dealing with fibromyalgia has been to mask the symptoms with drugs that do very little more than pad the pockets of the drug companies. This approach is partly due to the misunderstanding of the condition, and party thanks to our symptom-based medical system.
Many people who suffer from fibromyalgia experience a significant reduction in pain after eliminating certain foods from their diets. These foods include sugar, citrus, dairy, wheat and corn. While there is not a one-size-fits-all diet, it appears that eliminating all artificial sweeteners and the foods mentioned above makes a tremendous difference.
The Center for Disease Control states that over 855 of all diseases have some sort of emotional element. Those that suffer from fibromyalgia may be able to backtrack and identify a very stressful past event that might have triggered the illness. This could be an experience that caused great trauma.
Dealing with the trauma may provide the healing necessary to feel good again. Some professionals recommend Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which is like a needle-less acupuncture that you can even do on yourself at home. It is an easy technique to learn and is used by people dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with great success.
Exercise is beneficial for everyone, and is especially beneficial for those suffering from chronic pain. Although getting going may be hard, it will help reduce pain. A study done at Harvard University indicated that women who participated in moderately intense exercise found a relief in pain. They did a combination of stretching, walking and strength training. The average pain reduction was 45% in just 16 weeks.
It is important not to overdo it. The best form of exercise is gradual and consistent. Some people have found that exercising in warm water helps, as well as taking a yoga or pilates classes. Jarring activities such as horseback riding or running may do more harm than good.
Everyone loves a good massage; it is one of the oldest forms of medical care used to treat pain. The health benefits of therapeutic massage are well documented. An article by CNN recently noted that fibromyalgia patients found great relief with massage. Massage increases endorphins that promote a sense of well being, helps boost attention, strengthens the immune system, reduces cortisol levels, relieves insomnia and reduces anxiety.
Once you increase your activity level, it is easier to sleep. The National Fibromyalgia Research Association states that 75% of sufferers have sleep disturbances and fatigue. Poor sleep definitely makes symptoms worse. If you don’t get a good night’s sleep, your immune system is compromised, and you feel groggy.
Enhancing sleep is a critical part of the overall natural treatment approach to dealing with fibromyalgia. To help get the best night’s rest possible, avoid late night snacks, avoid alcohol, listen to a white noise CD, sleep in complete darkness, establish a regular bedtime and wake time, keep your bedroom cool, wear socks to bed, avoid caffeine after lunch, take a warm bath or sauna before bed and keep all electronics out of the bedroom.
-The Alternative Daily