Fibromyalgia Syndrome is defined as a set of symptoms that involves generalized musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. While it was not commonly accepted as an illness a few decades ago, researchers now believe that fibromyalgia is a condition where painful sensations are enhanced or increased because the brain of a fibromyalgia patient processes pain signals differently.
Fibromyalgia is the most common musculoskeletal condition after osteoarthritis affecting almost 12 million Americans. Fibromyalgia affects 10 times more women than men, and it’s symptoms generally shows up in adults aged 25 to 60.
While science has progressed in its understanding of fibromyalgia, fibromyalgia is still misdiagnosed and misunderstood all too often. The pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia can lead to depression and social isolation for the fibromyalgia patient.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia are many and often include chronic muscle pain, muscle spasms, and tightness., fatigue (even after a good night’s sleep,) insomnia, stiffness after being in one position for too long, brain fog (difficulty concentrating and performing simple mental tasks,) abdominal pain, bloating, nausea and irritable bowel syndrome (alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation), headaches, jaw and facial tenderness, In addition, sensitivity to odors, noise, lights, medications or to certain foods and the cold. In addition, numbness or tingling of the hands, arms, legs, feet or face, irritable bladder, reduced tolerance for exercise and anxiousness and depression may also be symptoms of fibromyalgia.
For the patient with fibromyalgia there is often an incident such as physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress that triggers their condition. In other patients, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event. Because the pain of fibromyalgia is often throughout the entire body and has no particularly effective way to be medicated, this condition can be very frustrating for many people.
Despite all the latest information about fibromyalgia, doctors often have a hard time differentiating the symptoms of fibromyalgia from other conditions, such as depression, inflammatory arthritis, chronic myofascial pain, chronic fatigue syndrome or irritable bowel syndrome. While the patient may present with symptoms of all these conditions, there doctor has to be astute enough to put the various symptoms together to identify that the patient has fibromyalgia. This is usually confirmed when standard tests reveal little to treat. For this reason, fibromyalgia is often considered a disease of exclusion. What this means, is either there is nothing found on standard testing to treat or that treatment for other diagnoses doesn’t show effectiveness. Literally this patient has to fall through the cracks on testing and treatment to get diagnosed with fibromyalgia. There is a newer lab test now available called the FM/a test although it is expensive and not generally covered by insurance, making it cost prohibitive for many patients.
Before considering these symptoms to be fibromyalgia syndrome, there are some specific, insurance covered tests that can be performed to establish if malabsorption of B vitamins, Epstein Barr virus, Lyme’s disease, or endocrine issues may be causing the symptoms. Autoimmune markers such as the ANA test can also be performed.
A lot of people with fibromyalgia have sensitivities to particular foods, but the food sensitivities vary from person to person. One might be sensitive to MSG, while another has egg issues, and a third patient is sensitive to black pepper. In fact, in a survey published in the journal Clinical Rheumatology, 42% of fibromyalgia patients said their symptoms worsened after eating certain foods. If the symptoms of fibromyalgia include irritable bowel type symptoms in addition to inflammatory symptoms such as generalized body pain or achiness, food sensitivities should be evaluated and a food elimination diet followed for 3 months.
An IgG4 food sensitivity panel is a simple blood test that identifies specific foods, preservatives and medicinal plants that may be aggravating the symptoms of fibromyalgia. An IgG4 response to food is actually more common than the IgE or IgA response, which causes a quick reaction. IgG4 reactions are harder to identify because they can occur hours or even days after consumption of an offending food. In some cases, a person’s reaction to a food may occur several days after eating the offending food and the link between the food and their symptoms may not be connected. These “hidden” food allergies are caused by increasing blood levels of IgG4 antibodies in reaction to specific foods Once this type of testing is done a food rotation can be developed that safely eliminates the offending foods and enables the body to resolve the inflammatory response involved with symptoms like those of the fibromyalgia patient.
Once a food that creates sensitivity has been eliminated from your diet, the benefits of less pain and fatigue, less brain fog and less irritable bowel symptoms (like bloating and constipation) should subside within four to six weeks and may occur in as little as one week.
For those patients for whom fibromyalgia is not helped by improving nutritional deficiencies and eliminating trigger foods, chiropractic and acupuncture are wonderful treatments for minimizing the pain of fibromyalgia. As anyone with fibromyalgia will attest – quality of life in incredibly important and so pain reduction and energy improvement on any level with chiropractic and acupuncture is, for many fibromyalgia patients, essential.
While chiropractic is often considered an alternative treatment it is becoming more accepted by the mainstream medical community. Chiropractic provides excellent relief in a short period of time and helps fibromyalgia patients enjoy a better quality of life.
Dr. Crosby routinely tests patients for nutritional deficiencies, and food sensitivities. Her team of chiropractors is highly adept at treating fibromyalgia with chiropractic and acupuncture. A consultation with Dr. Crosby can be arranged by calling (636) 928-5588.