Today is National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, May 12th,
Fibromyalgia, like many invisible illnesses, is a chronic and life altering disability. A person’s symptoms range from diffuse muscle and joint aches, insomnia, gastrointestinal symptoms, and fatigue. It has affects on mood leading to depression along with cognitive memory and function. Minor physical injuries lead to extended recovery periods. Simple tasks such as washing dishes or doing the laundry may take several trips if not a couple days to finish due to fatigue or pain. Many individuals (though not all) will also have a history of remote or current physical and or emotional trauma.
The root cause of fibromyalgia has not yet been completely determined in medical science. However, studies have shown that likely fibromyalgia is associated with alterations of the central nervous system that lead to an inability of the brain to turn off the pain centers that become hyperactive, which leads to hyperalgesia.
In regards to mood, individuals with fibromyalgia have also been found to have lower levels of serotonin, dopamine, and growth hormone.
In addition, gut health may play a large role in fibromyalgia. In one study 100% of patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia also had positive lactulose breath tests which is a test to study small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Not only were these patients positive for SIBO but the amount of hydrogen production produced by the presence of aberrant bacteria in the small intestine correlated also with higher amounts of somatic (bodily) pain sensation.
What are some ways to care for fibromyalgia?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – working closely with a therapist and learn how pace out your day and also work on any past or current stressors associated with your mental health
Exercise – regular gentle or moderate exercise. Start slow and build-up based on your own tolerance and known recovery period. Consider walking, gentle stretches, qi gong, tai chi, or swimming as beginning options.
Mindfulness – developing mindfulness practices such as deep breathing techniques, quiet meditation, or other mindful activities may help with coping with stress or pain
Medications – Commonly prescribed medications for fibromyalgia include: Milnacipran (Savella), Duloxetine (Cymbalta), Pregabalin (Lyrica), Amitryptiline
Nutrition – learning to eat healthy and eliminating food sensitivities may be a way to start to improve a person’s gut health. The FODMAPs diet is commonly used for patients with diagnosed SIBO to start to alter the microbiome of the gut to a healthier balance.
Acupuncture – In a large meta-analysis, verum (real) acupuncture and sham (fake) acupuncture were compared. Verum acupuncture was determined to significantly improve pain control and quality life in short term and long term studies compared with sham acupuncture. Acupuncture acts at the level of the fascia, peripheral and central nervous system helping improve musculoskeletal range of motion and pain control. It is a non-medicated approach to enhance the body’s ability to release pain relieving compounds such as endogenous opioids and non-opioid compounds.
If you liked this post, and you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and you want to find some new ways to improve your pain level and increase your energy on a daily basis then email firstname.lastname@example.org with the words Feel Better to get a 20% discount code on your first acupuncture treatment and sign up for our mailing list.