What is Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia, a mysterious debilitating syndrome, is taking an increasing toll on our population. It is characterized by the constant presence of widespread pain so severe that it is often incapacitating. In the U.S., 3 to 6 million people may be afflicted by its symptoms. It is estimated that 15% to 20% of patients seen by rheumatologists have fibromyalgia. The condition bears a striking resemblance to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and mainly affects women aged 25 to 50 years.

For many years the diagnosis of fibromyalgia was perplexing. Like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, patients are plagued with symptoms of chronic muscle pain, aching, stiffness, disturbed sleep, depression and fatigue. Finally, in 1990 specific criteria for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia was determined. The criteria follows:

For a patient to be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, he/she must fulfill the two criteria listed below:

    1. History of widespread pain for at least 3 months
    2. Pain in at least 11 of 18 tender points on digital palpation

The picture to the right shows the location of the typical tender points.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia include:

  • Multiple tender points and muscle pain
  • Disturbed sleep with morning fatigue and stiffness
  • Aggravation of signs and symptoms by modulating factors (emotional stress, temperature changes
  • Subjective swelling and numbness
  • Chronic headaches
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Cold intolerance (Raynaud's Phenomenon)
  • Dysmenorrhea - painful menstruation
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Weakness

What may Cause Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Many studies have been conducted regarding the cause of the musculoskeletal pain. The pain originated due to a lack of oxygen supply to the muscles which results in altered muscle function. This lack of oxygen supply to the muscles could be due to a dysfunctional nerve system resulting in the constriction (closing) of the blood vessels supplying the muscles. Thus chiropractic (which restores nerve function) and other activities that increase the blood supply to muscles helps relieve the pain.

Natural Treatment

There is no one treatment for Fibromyalgia. An all encompassing treatment protocol must be used in order to effectively reduce the pain associated with Fibromyalgia. The ideal treatment would involve the following:

  • Chiropractic adjustments - to restore normal nerve function
  • Nutritional Supplements - to increase the oxygen supply to muscle and help restore normal muscle metabolism
  • Aerobic Exercise - to increase oxygen supply to muscle
  • Gentle massage and stretches
  • Acupuncture - helps reduce pain. Aspirin and other pain relievers offer no long term relief of pain
  • Reduce Muscular Stress - this would involve the use of back supports, modifying some activities, etc

In conclusion Fibromyalgia is a real condition, and it is treatable !