Many people have asked questions about the Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FS) especially what can be done about it. Most people do not even know what it is, or that it even exists. In fact, as many as 5% of outpatient doctor visits may be due to the FS. The Fibromyalgia Syndrome is often overlooked as a diagnosis, and many doctors find it easier to diagnose some form of depression.
Why is this?
There are no diagnostic tests, such as a blood test, x-ray, urine test, or biopsy, to help make a diagnosis.
The Facts Originally named fibrositis - meaning connective tissue inflammation - the syndrome is a common form of chronic, generalized muscular pain and fatigue. In recent years its name has been changed to reflect the finding that it does not involve inflammation of the tissues, but rather unexplained pain (myalgia) in them. Still, the names are often used interchangeably.
These patients suffer from chronic diffuse muscle aching, muscle soreness accompanied with poor sleep, fatigue, morning stiffness, and frequently an affective dysfunction. Most FS patients complain primarily of muscular pain, but some have also reported articular pain, swelling of the hands or knees, and numbness or coldness of the extremities. Others have described reticular skin discoloration associated with FS. FS patients have no discernible pathophysiological abnormalities. X-ray studies and laboratory screening tests in the majority of patients reveal normal findings. The most important findings in-patients with FS are the tender points, which are elicited by palpation, and a chronic non-restorative sleep pattern.
Stopping or reversing a no- hope diagnosis
Most patients describe their symptoms as beginning in adulthood, but approximately 25% of patients have had symptoms beginning in childhood. Approximately 50% of patients could not recall any precipitant that started their symptoms, although 25% of them could attribute their symptoms to trauma and approximately 15% attributed the onset of their problems to stress or family changes. The expected course of FS, at this time, is not known. However, three possible courses have been suggested. The first is a remitting-intermittent course in which the symptoms either disappear or reappear after their initial onset. A fluctuating course has been described in which symptoms periodically improve and then worsen. The last course is a progressive course in which the symptoms worsen over time. Most authors suggest that, while symptoms may temporarily abate during the course of the disease, they are unlikely to remit completely. FS symptoms are likely to persist over the course of a patient's life once they are initially diagnosed. Patients who suffer from FS complain of extreme pain, but articular disability does not seem to be included in the syndrome. FS patients also experience profound fatigue, stiffness, pares-thesias, and chronic muscle tension.
When comparing function in patients with FS, it was found that these patients, as well as rheumatoid arthritis patients, could only perform standardized work tasks at a level 40% below normal patients. Other studies have found that approximately 50% of FS patients are unable to perform usual household tasks without assistance and 25% of patients were supported by disability pension. The exact prevalence of FS is not known, but it has been suggested that between three and six million Americans suffer from this disease. The syndrome appears to be far more common among females than males, with the female prevalence ranging from 70-88%. Most patients are between 34 and 53 years old when they report their initial symptoms. Approximately 25-60% of patients also suffer from migraine or non-migraine headaches.
Over the past twelve years we have treated many chronically ill patients at the Center for Advanced Medicine in Encinitas, CA, and in the treatment of the many fibromyalgia patients we have seen that some of the following can relate to possible causes and/or contributors to fibromyalgia.
Structural problems such as unresolved whiplash, a fall, concussion, TMJ/TMD or a turned jaw can contribute to fibromyalgia in some people. If the head is too far forward on the body, muscle fibers can fire continuously to balance the jaw and head. The muscles throughout the body release lactic acid which can contribute to muscle pain and fatigue.
If this condition remains untreated, the acidity can decalcify the long bones as calcium is released to buffer the acid, setting the stage for osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
The head forward position affects various nerve digestions. Real digested foods feed microbes which release poisons that tighten head, neck and back muscles.
Electrolyte (mineral) imbalance can cause muscle spasm and cramping, especially deficiencies of potassium, magnesium or calcium, or sodium.
Allergies such as nickel, foods, molds and airborne allergens can cause tightening of the meningeal mediated system. This system is the covering of the brain and spinal cord, and toxins and allergens can cause this to contract, which in turn can lead to pain.
Microorganisms (parasites) such as helicobacter, giardia, fungus, or any long-term infection can put out toxins, which can also cause tightening of the meningeal mediated system and affect the head, neck and spine.
Poor blood or lymph circulation, or clumping of blood (shown under microscope, a test done at CAM). This reduces the oxygen to the muscles and tissues, causing aching similar to that experienced by runners who push themselves too far.
A blood pH that is too acidic may be a contributor. This condition is similar to the aching caused by lactic acid buildup in the muscles of runners. Heavy metals and chemicals may be causing the acidity in the first place.
Disorders of the mitochondria, the power plants of the cell, can cause intolerance to exercise. An increase in pain or fatigue after even mild exercise could be related to mitochondrial disorders, as well as capillary blockage.
Dr. Mark Drucker, Medical Director of the Center for Advanced Medicine and I are always being asked "What can be done for fibromy-algia?"
What we have found to work for the many hundreds of patients we have treated are:
Stop and remove the toxins. Dental testing, dental work, mercury and nickel removed, chelation. Structural work to straighten head. Balance jaw and bite. Soft tissue work. Microorganisms identified and eliminated. Allergy testing and treatment. Sauna detoxification for chemicals. Nutritional support. Clear pathways.
Coping with a chronic disease is difficult under the best of circumstances, but dealing with a disease that is not well understood heightens anxiety. For most people, getting a diagnosis is an important first step in the overall healing and coping process.
As scientists learn more about fibromyalgia and doctors become more adept at diagnosing it, tomorrow is indeed bound to be better for people with this finally recognized, but still little-understood condition.
Dr. William R. Kellas, is the co-founder of the Center for Advanced Medicine in Encinitas, CA., he is also the co-author of "Surviving in a Toxic Crisis" and "Thriving In a Toxic World", and the author of "The Toxic Immune Syndrome Cookbook." Dr. Kellas also hosts a syndicated health talk show, "Health Talk - A Second Opinion" and is a sought after speaker and seminar leader.
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