Fibromyalgia is a common long-term or chronic condition that is associated with widespread pain in the muscles and bones and areas of tenderness. This pain and tenderness often comes and goes and moves throughout the body to certain tender points in the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs. Fibromyalgia most often starts around midlife but can start as young as your teens and as late as your older age. Women are more likely to be diagnosed than men, especially if you have a rheumatic disease such as osteoarthritis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis.
How to diagnose Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a condition that unfortunately can not be tested for, though test can be made to rule out other conditions. Diagnosis relies on the patient’s symptoms and how they feel and usually takes 3 months. Symptoms can include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Morning stiffness
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Painful menstrual periods
- Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
- Restless leg syndrome
- Temperature sensitivity
- Cognitive difficulties (“fibro fog”)
With all of these symptoms and lack of testing Fibromyalgia can often be misdiagnosed for lupus, thyroid hormone resistance, rheumatoid arthritis, and worse myofascitis. Myofascitis as similar symptoms but very different treatments, so proper diagnosis is important.
What are the causes and what are the effects on the body?
While doctors do not know the exact cause for Fibromyalgia there are some factors commonly found in those diagnosed. This condition can be linked to post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as stress in general. Stress can create long-term effects on the body and create hormonal disturbances that can contribute to fibromyalgia.
Metabolic abnormalities cause lower blood flow to your pituitary gland in the brain, which lowers vital hormones. These hormones include those responsible for releasing growth hormones and those that stimulate the thyroid. In return the healing process of your muscles is negatively affected, memory and cognitive functions decreased, and the development of hypothyroidism may occur.
More specifically, a gel-like substance called “ground substance” is found in the muscle, bone, and connective tissue throughout the body to make it stronger and less prone to injury. Fibromyalgia causes an excessive buildup of this substance lessening the ability of the body to properly heal itself which leads to the muscle knotting symptoms.
How to treat Fibromyalgia?
While there is no specific cure for Fibromyalgia, the combination of chiropractic care, trigger point therapy, cold laser therapy, massage therapy, and personal life changes can provide extreme pain relief and severity of the condition. Here at Radiant Health we provide all of these services and knowledge to help you live life more pain-free.
Fibromyalgia causes stiffness in the muscles and joints preventing the body the use of its full range of motion. The spine starts to lose flexibility which leads to tighter muscles, limiting the amount of movement one would make through day to day functions. This effect gets worse and worse over time causing great amounts of pain for the patient throughout the body. With chiropractic care, we can help combat this stiffness and degradation of mobility. With the spine properly adjusted and mobility exercises performed regularly the patient can see reduced effects of fibromyalgia. Patients will receive a more specialized and softer care due to the increased susceptibility of injury and the decreased ability to heal at least three to four times per month.
Trigger Point Therapy
Trigger points are tight knots within the muscle fibers that can cause pain in other areas of the body. These are not to be confused with tender points, which are caused by excessive build up of ground substance. Trigger points are more painful under firm pressure and relate to pain in other areas of the body. Tender points only need light pressure to induce pain and relate to that actual area of pain. Though these symptoms are different most patients will suffer from both and therefore a softer form of trigger point therapy would be beneficial.
Cold Laser Therapy
Cold laser therapy is pain management treatment. It interacts with the tissues in the body to help them heal, which decreases pain for the patient and is very beneficial to those suffering from fibromyalgia. Rheumatology International and the Journal of Clinical Laser Medicine and Surgery both reported that the majority of patients who received cold laser therapy experienced greater relief of pain as well as increased mobility.
Personal Life Changes
It has been found that in conjunction with medical treatments there are many lifestyle changes that someone suffering from fibromyalgia can do to relieve pain and increase mobility. Those that seek these lifestyle changes experience a much better quality of life than those that do not. Taking part in the following should help if you have fibromyalgia:
Proper Quality Rest – Making sure to get the proper amount of quality rest every night is important as it is a time where the body can heal itself. Though this can be hard as most patients suffer from restless sleep, it may require the use of prescription medications to help them get uninterrupted sleep.
Physical Activity – Though it can be hard to move due to stiffness it has been found that those who perform low impact exercise find a decrease in pain and increase in mobility. The reason being that the muscles are being stretched and strengthened which is combating the effects of fibromyalgia. However when exercising please take care and listen to your body to prevent injury.
Occupation – Is your occupation putting you at further risk of injury? Though most people can still work with fibromyalgia sometimes a change in occupation may be needed. Factors from long hours, high physical activity, and high amounts of stress can accelerate the effects of fibromyalgia. Talking to your employer about your condition and how to make compensations would be a strong suggestion.
Diet – Making sure to properly fuel the body will go a long way with the healing process. Feeding the body with foods that cause extra stress should be avoided such as dairy, eggs, wheat, corn, and foods containing MSG, nitrates, and nitrites. Seafood should be avoided as well due to the higher risk of toxins. Suggested foods to eat are fresh organic foods such as brown rice, legumes, oats, spelt, rice milk, soy, chicken, turkey, roots, nuts, and berries. In addition taking certain supplements have been found to be beneficial including magnesium malate, ginkgo blob, as well as other herbal remedies. Please consult your chiropractor however for the best supplements. Sticking to these foods and supplements will make sure the body receives vitamins and minerals essential to the healing process.
Call us at (269) 964-3300 for more information on how we can help you become a healthier, happier you!