Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia

You hurt all over, you have hurt all over for years, and your doctor finally tells you that you have fibromyalgia. Now you are relieved, because your pain actually has a diagnosis – a medical name. But when you ask your doctor what to do about it, you are told: “We do not know what causes fibromyalgia. We treat it with painkillers and antidepressants.”

So your body is screaming a message to you, but you still don’t know how to get healthy – only how to suppress the symptoms.

Do we believe that our bodies try to tell us what is wrong, so that we can do something about it?

When we have a broken leg, we have a lot of pain when we try to use the broken part. So we don’t use the part – we put a cast on it, or we use crutches, and after a while the part heals. The body has given us the information we needed – pain and swelling – so that we will take care of the broken part appropriately.

When we have abdominal pain and/or diarrhea from taking too many vitamin C pills, we connect the dots and do not take as many pills next time.

Fibromyalgia body diagramBut when we have fibromyalgia, we are told to take pills to suppress the symptoms. That only makes sense if we truly do not understand what causes chronic muscle pain.

The syndrome called fibromyalgia was first officially recognized by the American College of Rheumatology 20 years ago. You had fibromyalgia if you experienced pain when 11 of 18 specified points on your body were pressed with a specific amount of force. You also had to experience pain all over, in order to qualify for the diagnosis.[i]

I went to a lecture given by a renowned fibromyalgia specialist to learn more about the syndrome. What I learned was that almost anyone could qualify for that diagnosis. The specialist pressed on several of the defined points on me, and I almost dropped to the floor. And I don’t have fibromyalgia, nor am I particularly sensitive to pain.

So I realized that all the talk about fibromyalgia was pretty much hot air, and I should start looking for other causes.

The situation is not much better in conventional medicine in 2014.

In 2014, a review article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association states: “Numerous treatments are available for managing fibromyalgia that are supported by high-quality evidence. These include nonpharmacological therapies (education, exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy) and pharmacological therapies (tricyclics, serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, and gabapentinoids).”[ii] No mention is made of food sensitivities, mitochondrial support, or anything other than mind games, exercise and drugs. People with fibromyalgia are well aware of how well exercise works.

Why is treating fibromyalgia such a challenge for clinicians? What are some potential treatable causes of diffuse muscle pain?

Family history of fibromyalgia – there appears to be an association between familial depression and symptoms of fibromyalgia.[iii], [iv] There is not much we can do about treating the family history.

Abnormal perception of pain – thought to be due to a deficiency of serotonin (hence the treatment with SSRIs).[v] We may be able to modulate this one – this is where meditation and biofeedback come in, mind/body modalities that can be extremely effective.[vi]

Central hypersensitivity to external stimuli – persistent painful input leads to changes in those parts of the central nervous system where painful sensations are processed.[vii] There may be perception of pain in the absence of actual painful stimulus, leading to the widespread idea that fibromyalgia is “all in your head.” This is another area where biofeedback may be very helpful.

Foods – the role of diet in the treatment of fibromyalgia has been relegated to the status of “kook” medicine – but those of us who advocate changing the diet find the change to be beneficial. In fact, for some patients, that is all they need to do. Get rid of the foods to which they are sensitive, and they have no more pain. Problem solved.[viii]

Inflammation – vegetarian and/or raw vegan diets have been found to be beneficial for some people. Animal protein tends to be more inflammatory, vegetable protein less inflammatory.[ix]

Abnormal microbiome of the GI tract – a link has been found between the microbiome of the gut and the symptoms of fibromyalgia. This link is more robust than the link between the microbiome and symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).[x]

Mitochondrial damage – if our cellular energy factories fail, they accumulate toxic waste products which cause inflammation and pain – diffuse pain, exactly like fibromyalgia.[xi], [xii] And we can treat with supplements which mitigate the oxidative stress, thereby reducing pain.[xiii]

Fibromyalgia Mitochondrial damage

Downloaded by permission from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:0315_Mitochondrion_new.jpg

Poor quality of sleep – there is some evidence that quality of sleep has a major impact on many things, including mood, weight and pain.[xiv] Sometimes we can intervene here. Calming the mind – whether with meditation, biofeedback, white noise, Alpha-Stim®[xv], l-theanine, combination products like Kavinace[xvi], or pharmaceuticals like trazodone[xvii] or the benzodiazepines – generally results in less pain and better mental status.

Treatment at the Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine

Almost all the above factors can be treated.

Family history – not so much.

Abnormal perception, or central hypersensitization – that issue is eminently treatable. We just have to be willing to go there. We have several modalities available to treat the brain processing issue – guided imagery, bioelectric treatments, homeopathic or frequency modulated remedies and EEG biofeedback are a few of those modalities.

[guided imagery links to the page on hypnosis and guided imagery – http://arizonaadvancedmedicine.com/team/steven-swerdfeger-phd-ch/

Bioelectric treatments links to the page on Chiren – http://arizonaadvancedmedicine.com/the-chiren-delving-deep-into-the-nature-of-life-itself/

Homeopathic remedies links to the page on NES – http://arizonaadvancedmedicine.com/services/nes-scan/

EEG biofeedback links to Nancy Wigton’s page – http://arizonaadvancedmedicine.com/team/nancy-wigton/ ]

Foods – we can test for food sensitivity. We can help you modify your food choices to be less inflammatory, less allergenic, less prone to raise your blood sugar, less conducive to Alzheimer’s and more healthy, tasty and beautiful.

[test for food sensitivity links to http://arizonaadvancedmedicine.com/treatingallergies/

Food choices links to the section in the Library of articles called Food and Nutrition – we need a tag or something, so that they don’t just go to the top of the articles page. ]

Inflammation – we treat this with supplements and food choices. We help you choose foods which are specifically anti-inflammatory, as well as helping you avoid those foods which create inflammation.

[anti-inflammatory links to http://arizonaadvancedmedicine.com/inflammation/

foods which create inflammation links to http://arizonaadvancedmedicine.com/sugar-a-sweet-invitation-to-disease/ ]

Your gut microbiome – we can help you restore a healthy bacterial population in your GI tract. First we test the stool, to see whether there is actually something abnormal. If we find an abnormal distribution of organisms, or pathogenic (disease-causing) organisms, we can use both pharmaceutical medication and herbs or botanical preparations, to help you eliminate that which is not healthy and encourage the growth of that which is healthy.

[gut microbiome links to http://arizonaadvancedmedicine.com/the-gut-microbiome-and-cancer-2/ and abnormal distribution of organisms to http://arizonaadvancedmedicine.com/immune-system-dysfunction/ ]

Mitochondrial damage – we have an excellent supplement protocol for restoring the health of the mitochondria, while we are doing the detective work to figure out why your mitochondria got so depleted in the first place.

[mitochondria links to http://arizonaadvancedmedicine.com/chronic-fatigue-syndrome-myalgic-encephalitis-cfsme/ ]

Sleep – people who do not sleep get irritable, and even psychotic. They stop dreaming. They become irrational. They hurt. We can help you restore your normal sleep patterns. We use a combination of herbal remedies, biofeedback, meditation, guided imagery and even pharmaceutical medication if needed, to help you get restful sleep.

Call us at 480-240-2600 for a free 15-minute consultation with one of our practitioners.


[i] Wolfe F et al. The American College of Rheumatology preliminary diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia and measurement of symptom severity. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2010 May;62(5):600-10. doi: 10.1002/acr.20140.

[ii] Clauw DJ. Fibromyalgia: a clinical review. JAMA. 2014 Apr 16;311(15):1547-55. doi: 10.1001/jama.2014.3266.

[iii] Raphael KG, Janal MN, Nayak S, et al. Familial aggregation of depression in fibromyalgia: a community-based test of alternate hypotheses. Pain 2004;110:449–460.

[iv] Arnold LM et al. Family study of fibromyalgia. Arthritis Rheum. 2004 Mar;50(3):944-52.

[v] Russell IJ et al. Platelet 3H-imipramine uptake receptor density and serum serotonin levels in patients with fibromyalgia/fibrositis syndrome. J Rheumatol. 1992 Jan;19(1):104-9.

[vi] Rabu AS et al. Management of patients with fibromyalgia using biofeedback: a randomized control trial. Indian J Med Sci. 2007 Aug;61(8):455-61.

[vii] Kindler LL et al. Central Sensitivity Syndromes: Mounting Pathophysiologic Evidence to Link Fibromyalgia with other Common Chronic Pain Disorders. Pain Manag Nurs. Mar 2011; 12(1): 15–24.

[viii] Logan AC. Dietary Modifications and Fibromyalgia. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine October 2003 vol. 8 no. 3 234-245. doi: 10.1177/1076167503252916

[ix] Donaldson MS et al. Fibromyalgia syndrome improved using a mostly raw vegetarian diet: An observational study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2001; 1: 7.

[x] Pimentel M et al. A link between irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia may be related to findings on lactulose breath testing. Ann Rheum Dis. Apr 2004; 63(4): 450–452.

[xi] Abdullah M et al. Mitochondrial myopathy presenting as fibromyalgia: a case report. Journal of Medical Case Reports2012, 6:55 doi:10.1186/1752-1947-6-55.

[xii] Tarnopolsky MA et al. The mitochondrial cocktail: rationale for combined nutraceutical therapy in mitochondrial cytopathies. Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2008 Oct-Nov;60(13-14):1561-7. doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2008.05.001.

[xiii] Rodriguez MC et al. Beneficial effects of creatine, CoQ10, and lipoic acid in mitochondrial disorders. Muscle Nerve. 2007 Feb;35(2):235-42.

[xiv] Davies KA et al. Restorative sleep predicts the resolution of chronic widespread pain: results from the EPIFUND study. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2008 Dec;47(12):1809-13. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/ken389.

[xv] http://www.alpha-stim.com/the-alpha-stim-scs/

[xvi] https://www.neurorelief.com/index.php?p=cms&cid=147&pid=20

[xvii] http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/04/trazodone-common-sleep-drug-is-little-known-antidepressant/index.htm

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