Fibromyalgia, also called Fibromyalgia Syndrome (or FMS), is a chronic pain condition. It presents as fatigue and pain in the soft tissues of the body. It is estimated that approximately 5 million adults in the United States suffer from this condition. While Fibromyalgia is a condition that can affect men and children alike, it is most common among middle-aged women.
Patients suffering from this condition may also experience:
For generations, the medical community hasn’t understood the cause of these symptoms. As a result, the treatments developed by modern medicine often fail to produce consistent relief. As there’s no test to diagnose the condition, patients often arrive at their diagnosis only after a year or more of ongoing symptoms.
While we may not understand much about the condition, most patients eventually learn to identify various things that can trigger Fibromyalgia flare ups. While treating a Fibromyalgia flare up can be challenging, it is much easier to avoid triggering one, to begin with. Each person’s triggers may vary but some common triggers are changes in:
While some triggers may be impossible to control, such as the weather and outside stresses, many triggers can be avoided to drastically improve quality of life. Unfortunately, much of modern medicine’s approach to managing Fibromyalgia focuses more on controlling the pain as opposed to preventing flare ups. These treatment plans often involve the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), pain relievers, anticonvulsants, and anti-depressants. Many of these drugs have potentially serious side effects.
Longterm use of NSAIDs can cause a number of health issues. Possible side effects include ulcers, digestive upset, bleeding in the stomach or intestines, heart attack, stroke, and life-threatening allergic reactions. Inflammation is a known trigger for patients with Fibromyalgia. Therefore, it’s important to control it, however, there are better and safer alternatives.
Anticonvulsants, or anti-seizure medications, are equally as hard on the body. The liver, kidneys, and ovaries are especially susceptible to longterm use of such medications, leading to the development of kidney stones, liver failure, and ovarian cysts. Some anticonvulsants may also cause a dramatic drop in white blood cell and platelet counts, resulting in an increased risk of infections and aplastic anemia. These drugs are also known for causing cognitive impairments, such as difficulty concentrating, learning, or paying attention – which are also common symptoms of Fibromyalgia.
Antidepressants come with a long list of possible side effects, chief among with are anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, blurred vision, loss of sexual desire, irritability, and weight gain. Again, many of these side effects are also symptoms of Fibromyalgia and can be addressed without pharmaceutical interventions.
So what helps with Fibromyalgia flares? Here at Integrative Pain Relief, we believe in taking a natural, drug-free approach to pain management and flare up prevention.
Diet plays an important role in achieving optimal health and this statement couldn’t be more true for Fibromyalgia patients. Here at Integrative Pain Relief, we recommend implementing an elimination diet. This diet is a part of an integrative approach to improving or eliminating your symptoms. Foods that cause an inflammatory response in the body can trigger Fibromyalgia flare ups. Cutting out possible trigger foods for a week or more can help you to determine if these or other food items may be contributing to your pain. These foods include, but may not be limited to sugar, certain types of carbohydrates, processed foods, gluten, alcohol, caffeine, and unhealthy fats. People suffering from fibromyalgia may also have underlying nutritional deficiencies that can contribute to their other symptoms. It is important to identify and address these deficiencies when developing an integrative treatment plan.
Body mechanics refers to the way in which your body moves when performing tasks such as walking, sitting, lifting, and even sleeping. Possibly one of the biggest contributing factors in any chronic pain condition is poor body mechanics. Misalignments in the spine, deficiencies in muscle strength and flexibility, or injuries can result in poor body mechanics that contribute to a variety of Fibromyalgia symptoms and triggers. At Integrative Pain Relief we offer a number of services to correct these issues of body mechanics.
Physical therapy will help to strengthen supporting muscles and joints to correct muscle deficiencies that contribute to inflammation and misalignments in the spine.
Traction helps to lengthen the spine, relieving pressure on pinched nerves or compressed discs that can add to Fibromyalgia flare ups. Traction also helps to reduce tingling or numbness that may have resulted from compression of the spine.
Corrective spinal care, or chiropractics, utilizes manual adjustment of the spine and other therapies to bring the spine into proper alignment, further improving body mechanics and reducing pain.
Deep Tissue Muscle Work can also provide relief and prevent flares. Deep Tissue Massage focuses on reducing tension on the deeper muscle groups, fascia, and tendons to alleviate trigger points that can cause flare ups and additional pain.
Trigger points are small tender knots that develop in the muscles and connective tissues of the body. With Trigger Point Injection Therapy or TPI, an anesthetic solution is injected directly into the trigger point to relax the ball of muscle and alleviate pain. This therapy often goes along with physical therapy to ensure the trigger points do not reoccur.
Swelling and inflammation in the body is a well-known trigger for Fibromyalgia. At Integrative Pain Relief, we’re happy to offer our patients a variety of alternative pain and anti-inflammatory treatments.
Frequency Specific Microcurrent (FSM) is an old therapy that, despite its effectiveness, is not widely known. It uses mild and painless electrical currents to stimulate the production of ATP in your cells. ATP is a molecule for energy and plays an important role in the body’s ability to heal itself. Documentation supports the FSM ability to reduce pain and inflammation.
Our practice often uses electrotherapy, specifically Interferential and Ultrasound therapies to reduce pain and inflammation while speeding the healing process.
Some patients, depending on what underlying contributing conditions they may have, may also be candidates for Regenerative Therapy, also known as “Stem Cell” therapy. In this therapy a medical professional injects stem cells into tissues affected by an injury or a degenerative condition. The stem cells then migrate to the affected area, transforming into the appropriate cells to begin to rebuild the damaged tissues. The stem cells also trigger the cell production and activation within the body that help speed the healing process.
Fibromyalgia is a difficult condition to diagnose and even more difficult to treat. But here at Integrative Pain Relief, we believe that through an integrative approach we can help our patients live happy, healthy, fulfilling lives through natural, drug-free therapies.