by: Dr. Craig A. Maxwell
Fibromyalgia or “fibro” as some call it, can make everyday life miserable. The severe pain, body aches, and sleeplessness can be enough to drive you insane. What’s worse is the way some allopathic physicians treat patients with the condition. It’s not easy to not be taken seriously when you’re already in severe pain.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread soft-tissue pain, weakness, and fatigue. Fibromyalgia, called “fibro” for short by some who have it, has been referred to as both an autoimmune disorder and a chronic pain condition. Since the cause of these muscle aches and severe pain can be difficult to pinpoint, conventional doctors either do not believe the disease exists or downplay its symptoms.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
The symptoms of fibromyalgia can vary from person to person but the most common symptoms include:
- Morning Joint Stiffness
- All-Over Body Aches
- Chronic Headaches
- Restless Legs Syndrome
- Concentration and Memory Problems (“Fibro Fog”)
- Digestion Problems
- Balance and Coordination Problems
- Muscle Twitches
Since fibromyalgia can mimic other autoimmune diseases such as Lupus and chronic fatigue syndrome, doctors may find it difficult to diagnose. However, fibromyalgia has some specific symptoms associated with it.
- Knotted Muscles
- Trigger Point Pain
- Itchy, Burning Skin
Clinical Diagnoses of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia can be very difficult for conventional doctors to diagnose. Some physicians even discourage their patients from hope for a relief from severe pain when they tell them it’s “all in their head” or there is little that they can do to stop it. It’s no wonder frustrated patients turn to natural alternatives.
However, this isn’t to say all medical doctors will just shake their head at you and tell you there’s no help in sight. Advances in medicine and understanding of the disorder have given conventional health practitioners a diagnostic criteria for diagnosing fibromyalgia.
This criteria includes:
- Widespread Muscle Pain Lasting 3 Months or More
- 11 out of 18 Tender Points on the Body
- Pain and Tenderness Located in all Four Quadrants of the Body
Causes of Fibromyalgia
The causes of fibromyalgia are often debated among medical professionals. Here are the most common believed causes for this sometimes debilitating disorder:
- Physical Trauma
A common factor in the development of fibromyalgia is physical trauma. According to clinical research, the development of fibromyalgia increased 10-fold in Israeli patients with a neck injury. Although this particular study still cites a mental component to the development of fibromyalgia, it advances the understanding of physical causes of fibromyalgia.
Car accidents, work injuries, sports injuries, and surgical trauma are the most common contributors to this chronic pain syndrome with whiplash being prevalent.
- Food Sensitivities
Food sensitivities such as gluten intolerance are another common factor in the development of fibromyalgia. In a person with undiagnosed gluten intolerance, the body is unable to properly digest the food and absorb nutrients into the body. This can lead to chronic inflammation, which later develops into severe pain throughout the body.
Another cause of these muscle aches has to do with a digestive condition called “leaky gut syndrome”. In a patient with leaky gut syndrome, the lining of the intestines are more porous than they should be allowing tiny food particles to enter the bloodstream. These food particles cause an allergic reaction in the system, leading to chronic inflammation and pain. Food sensitivities, chronic use of NSAID pain relievers, and antibiotic use are the most common causes of this syndrome.
- Environmental Allergies
Environmental allergies are a commonly overlooked source of fibromyalgia. Think about what’s in your home. Did you recently have a new floor installed or a purchase a new mattress? What about paint or air fresheners? Environmental allergies go way beyond hay fever.
A large portion of the population has no idea how dangerous household chemicals can be. Flooring, carpeting, and cleaning products contain hormone disruptors and neurotoxins that can rewire the way the brain and body works, leading to the development of fibromyalgia and other autoimmune disease.
How to Diagnose Fibromyalgia at Home
In order to really get to the bottom of your fibro symptoms, it’s important to understand if there are any food, environmental or chemical causes of your symptoms. Understanding what your body is sensitive to is the first step in relieving severe pain and discomfort.
For patients who want the most comprehensive analysis of how their body responds to their environment, I recommend ALCAT Comprehensive Wellness Kit from Direct Labs. This test identifies delayed sensitivities to 200 foods, 10 food additives, 10 food colorings, 10 environmental chemicals, and 20 molds. Delayed sensitivities are responsible for many symptoms and this test helps you take the guess work out of what you may be sensitive to.
How to Treat Fibromyalgia Naturally
Some conventional physicians will offer you painkillers for your body aches and advocate rest as a treatment option. While this may ease your severe pain, it may lead to side effects such as dependence, listlessness, and nausea. There are plenty of ways to treat fibromyalgia naturally so you can decrease or eliminate your dependence on pain killers.
Diet plays an incredible role in your health and that goes triple if you suffer from any type of autoimmune or rheumatic condition. In this case, your primary medicine should be your food. This means eating plenty of organic vegetables, fruits, lean poultry, wild-caught fish, and whole, gluten-free grains.
Top anti-inflammatory foods for people with fibromyalgia can include:
- Turmeric – Turmeric is a yellow spice commonly used in Indian cooking. This spice is especially important for people with leaky gut syndrome and food sensitivities as it tightens the gut and relieves intestinal discomfort.
- Cayenne Pepper – Cayenne pepper is a natural blood-thinner and digestive aid. It can be used, diluted with oil, directly on the skin to relieve arthritic inflammation. It can also be used on food to ease muscle aches and severe pain.
- Wild-Caught Salmon – Farmed salmon is filled with growth hormones and antibiotics that can cause the inflammation you’re trying to prevent. Wild-caught salmon contains high levels of inflammation-fighting omega 3 fatty acids that help build up your brain and decrease fibromyalgia pain.
- Papaya – Fibromyalgia or any type of autoimmune disorder usually goes hand in hand with digestive trouble. For that, there’s papaya. This nutritious fruit not only tastes good, it contains high doses of natural digestive enzymes in addition to vitamins C and E.
- Broccoli – Broccoli contains phytonutrients that not only help relieve inflammation but are strong enough to prevent the development of cancer.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Coconut Oil– Corn oil can produce an inflammatory effect on the body. Switch over to extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil to feel the anti-inflammatory benefits. The polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil can lessen body aches while coconut oil can provide natural antibiotic treatment.
When you’re in severe pain, the last thing you want to think about is exercise. However, there are some gentle stretching and strengthening exercises that can help you work on those muscle aches.
- Walking – Even if it’s just around the block for starters, walking is a low-impact way to stretch your muscles and get some much-needed sunlight.
- Swimming – When you’re in the water, your body is more buoyant and exercise is a little easier. You don’t have to swim laps. Just getting into the water and moving your muscles can be enough for starters.
- Yoga – Yoga is a kind of moving meditation designed to teach you how to breathe through pain while you strengthen and stretch your painful muscles.
- Light Weight Training – Muscles can begin to atrophy from lack of use. Light weight training with 2-5 pound weights can strengthen the joints around tender areas and ease chronic pain.
There are supplements that people with chronic pain and inflammation can benefit from.
Here are some supplements I recommend to my patients:
- Vitamin D3 – Some people with fibromyalgia have a secondary condition called osteomalacia or adult rickets. In a study done on Saudi Arabian women, vitamin D3 supplementation proved an effective treatment. For most of my adult patients, I usually recommend 5,000 I.U of Diamond Nutritional’s Vitamin D3 daily.
- Krill Oil – Krill oil is more shelf-stable than fish oil and can deliver a potent dose of inflammatory-fighting omega 3s than wild-caught salmon.
- Probiotics – Probiotics are the live, active cultures found in yogurt, Kimchi, and sauerkraut. They can help improve your digestion and reduce your body’s inflammatory response.
- Boswellia – Boswellia is an herbal remedy that relieves inflammation much the same way NSAID pain relievers due without the digestive side effects. Boswellia works by blocking the formation of leukotrienes, the chemicals that cause inflammation and pain.
- Diamond Nutritional’s Inflamments Formula – For more comprehensive inflammation treatment, I recommend Diamond Nutritional’s Inflamments formula. Its potent ingredients relieve pain and inflammation without the side effects of some conventional medications.
These ingredients include:
- Skullcap Root – Skullcap root extract contains a potent antioxidant that inhibits prostaglandin e2, the lipid compounds responsible for inflammatory response.
- Turmeric – Turmeric impedes inflammatory enzymes while improving digestion.
- Bee Propolis – Bee Propolis contains caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), a potent immune-system enhancer.
- Diamond Nutritional’s Foundation Vitamin Formula
Since digestive problems are a common complaint of people with fibromyalgia, it’s important your body receives optimum nutrition. My product line contains a multivitamin I recommend to patients dealing with autoimmune and inflammatory conditions. It’s called Diamond Nutritional’s Foundation Vitamin Formula.
Living with the body aches of fibromyalgia can be difficult but there is hope. Changing your diet, getting some exercise, and taking essential supplements can help you get back on the path to health and wellness!