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Tue, June 1, 2010
Understanding Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia =

FIBRO: From fiber or fibrous – tissues which are the soft tissues of the body under the skin, especially around the joints, including the tendons.
MY - From myo, meaning muscle
ALGOS – from algia, meaning pain
IA – meaning state of or condition
From Dorland’s Medical Dictionary

In simple language fibromyalgia is a condition that is characterized by pain in the muscles and soft tissues of the body. The pain is usually a general muscle ache all over the body, with tenderness at very specific points on certain muscle groups. A deep muscle aching, a burning, shooting, throbbing, stabbing and/or a tearing pain can characterize the muscle pain. The symptoms are generally located in the muscles of the hips, back, shoulders, and neck, with little joint involvement.

In 1990 F. Wolfe at the American College of Rheumatology established the research criteria for a patient to have fibromyalgia. There must be a history of widespread pain. The patient must have experienced pain or achiness, steady or intermittent, for at least three months. At times the pain must have been present on both the right and left sides of the body, both above and below the waist, and in the neck, mid-chest, or mid-back.

There were also eighteen official fibromyalgia points on the body that were known as tender points. A patient was considered to have fibromyalgia if at least eleven of the eighteen spots were tender to the touch. These points included the muscles in the front near the neck and in the back across the shoulder, the buttock muscles, and the muscles on the bottom of the skull. The other tender points were over the joints of the body including the elbows, the knees and the hips. These criteria became the standard medical definition for the clinical diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

In 2010 fibromyalgia is the third most common rheumatologic disorder, after osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It represents 5% of all family practice office visits and 20% of all rheumatism visits to medical physicians. Approximately 90% of fibromyalgia patients are women between the ages of 40 and 60, with the average age of 49. Only 10-20% of the patients are male, with the same presenting symptoms as women.

Approximately 75% of all fibromyalgia sufferers experience sleep disturbance, which can range from insomnia to wakefulness to non-restorative sleep. Fibromyalgia patients have fatigue similar to those patients who suffer with chronic fatigue syndrome. They cannot tolerate exercise. Their discomfort will be aggravated by extremes in temperature, as well as humidity. According to Dr. Daniel Wallace, MD, fibromyalgia patients hurt when they should not.

Fibromyalgia patients have a hypersensitivity to pain and other stimuli, and often have random pain sensations, numbness, and tingling. Other associated conditions of fibromyalgia include irritable bowel syndrome, digestive disturbances, headaches and migraines, irritable bladder syndrome, mood disturbances with depression, cognitive dysfunction with concentration and memory problems, and multiple environmental sensitivities to odors, light, noise, environmental chemicals, and foods allergies.

The underlying medically ignored causes of fibromyalgia are food intolerances, vitamin deficiencies, toxicities, hormone disruptions, and autonomic nervous system dysregulation. The autonomic nervous system controls the body through nerve pathways, hormones, and neurotransmitters. Those patients with a history of multiple physical traumas and/or overwhelming life stress develop fibromyalgia symptoms within a few months of an additional physical trauma or life stress.

The physical traumas cause physical pain in the body and disrupt the autonomic nervous system. Chiropractic gently reduces the pain in the body by restoring balance to the autonomic nervous system. Many fibromyalgia patients find pain relief with chiropractic treatment. Chiropractic treats the physical component, while diet and lifestyle changes help treat the underlying deficiencies and toxicities.

The autonomic nervous system requires specific nutrients ingested from food, to rebuild and repair. When nutritional deficiencies and imbalances exist hormones and neurotransmitters cannot be made. As a result, the hormonal system cannot properly respond to stress. With increased stress more nutrients are needed for the body to function correctly.

The adrenal glands are the stress responding glands in the body. These glands become overwhelmed and fatigued. The mechanism of adrenal fatigue has been outlined in medical literature for over 100 years, but is still ignored by the current medical health care system. The book “Adrenal Fatigue” by Dr. James Wilson explains the causes and treatment for this condition. Dr. James L. Wilson coined the term “adrenal fatigue” in 1998 to identify a group of signs and symptoms that people experience as a result of less than optimal adrenal function. For more information visit www.adrenalfatigue.org.

The adrenal glands and the autonomic nervous system require specific nutrients in order to work efficiently and effectively. The body is designed to get these nutrients from the foods eaten. The body cannot make hormones, cannot digest properly, and cannot generate energy from the processed man-made foods that make up the average American diet.

The needed nutrients have been stripped out of the food supply by the modern food processing methods. Processed and junk foods are now filled with sugars and unwanted food additives that the body cannot use to make energy at the cellular level. The body cannot rebuild and repair when it has no materials to use. Rent the movie Food Inc. to become more enlightened on the creation and purpose for the modern industrialization of the food system.

With the addition of genetically modified foods (commonly known as genetically modified organisms or GMO) to the food supply, more food intolerances are developing. The genetic make-up of the body is not designed to process foods that have pesticides impregnated into the genes of the food itself. The GMO crops developed by Monsanto include soy, corn, canola, cottonseed, and wheat. The most common food allergens today are also the most genetically modified crops grown. For more information on GMO in the food supply visit www.mercola.com. Fibromyalgia patients will find some relief if suspected food allergens are avoided.

At a physical level, poor circulation and lack of adequate oxygen supply contributes to the muscle pain and formation of multiple trigger points associated with fibromyalgia. The trigger points are areas within the muscles where a build up of lactic acid occurs due to poor circulation. The classic fibromyalgia symptoms of muscle pain and multiple trigger points occur when there are deficiencies of the whole vitamin E complex, the whole vitamin C complex, and magnesium. Exercise is not effective or beneficial until the vitamin and mineral deficiencies have been corrected.

The whole vitamin E complex is involved in all tissue rebuilding and repair, protecting the chromosomes from damage. Vitamin E complex contains an oxygen factor to make it easier for the cells to function. Without the whole vitamin E complex the cells need up to 250% more oxygen to carry out cellular respiration. The isolated vitamin E that is commonly sold is only part the whole vitamin E complex, and it is missing the oxygen factor. Some whole food sources of the vitamin E complex include wheat germ, lettuce, spinach, all fresh green vegetables, sweet potatoes, egg yolk, cold pressed vegetable oils, and freshly ground whole grains.

The whole vitamin C complex increases the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood, and is required to build healthy collagen. Collagen is the supporting infrastructure for muscles, tendons, ligaments, and skin. The whole vitamin C complex also contains copper, which is needed for the body to incorporate iron into hemoglobin.

Ascorbic acid, the legal form of vitamin C, is not the supporting part of the C complex that affects oxygen carrying capacity. Ascorbic acid is an isolated part of a vitamin complex. Isolated vitamin extracts cause a vitamin complex deficiency when they are taken instead of the whole vitamin complex. Some whole food sources of the vitamin C complex are raw hot and sweet red and green peppers, guava, kale, parsley and broccoli.

Magnesium is a mineral that is necessary for cellular respiration. It relaxes all types of muscles. A magnesium deficiency is indicated when there are tight muscles that cannot relax, and poor circulation due to constricted blood vessels that cannot relax. A diet that is high in calcium increases the need for magnesium. The amount of dietary protein, phosphorus, and vitamin D also influence the need for magnesium. Some of the food sources of magnesium include kelp, wheat bran and wheat germ, almonds, cashews, dulse (a seaweed), peanuts, black walnuts, whole sesame seeds, whole grains, wild rice, and beet greens.

Another vitamin deficiency that contributes to fibromyalgia is the vitamin B complex. The average American consumes one hundred and fifty to two hundred pounds of sugar every year. That is equivalent to one-half a teaspoon of sugar every thirty minutes. When sugar is consumed the body requires the vitamin B complex to metabolize the sugar. Sugar cane in its natural state has all the B vitamins within it. All the B vitamins are removed when sugar cane is processed into fine white powder. These B vitamins are then separated from the sugar and sold as molasses, a thick syrup.

Most sugar today is made from GMO corn instead of sugar cane. The production of sugar from corn requires high heat and many chemicals to extract the starchy sugar from the corn. Part of the manufacturing process also includes using a mercury compound to process the sugar. Today half of manufacturing plants that make high fructose corn syrup that is added to most processed foods are contaminated with mercury. Mercury is a toxic metal that makes it more difficult for the body to function properly. For more information on mercury toxicity visit www.mercola.com.

Sugar consumption also causes the adrenals to secrete hormones that can cause muscle pain. Eating a diet high in trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils can also cause increased pain and inflammation of body tissues. It takes fifty-one days for the body to metabolize these bad fats, adding to the pain and suffering that fibromyalgia patient’s experience. In comparison it only takes eighteen days for the body to metabolize cold pressed extra virgin olive oil.

Toxins from the environment and the food supply create additional inflammation and reduce the ability of the body to function correctly. Toxic buildup can cause pain. Water is one of the best ways to help reduce toxicity. Ideally water consumption should be half one’s body weight in ounces. Water is what the body needs, not coffee, tea, alcohol, or pop. It is best to avoid commercial waters and sport drinks, as these contain hidden sugars and additives.

Fibromyalgia is a complex health condition that requires patience and time for recovery. The multiple causes of fibromyalgia, and the varying symptoms of fibromyalgia make it a challenge to those who seek to help patients suffering with this condition. Chiropractic, autonomic nervous system regulation, nutrition, natural hormone balancing, gentle detoxification, exercise, and diet and lifestyle changes all play a role in helping patients with fibromyalgia.

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