What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a complex disease in which both genetics and environmental factors play a role. For a better understanding, here are some basic facts about fibromyalgia and its symptoms:

  • Fibromyalgia afflicts eight to twelve million people in this country alone. It does not discriminate by gender or age, although it predominately affects women between the ages of 35 and 54. It has been found to be genetic, affecting children and the elderly, both male and female alike.
  • Fibromyalgia is a complex disease that involves multi-system disturbances and abnormalities. Because of this complexity, these conditions have been poorly treated by the current eight to fifteen minute doctor visits that address only a portion of the wide spectrum of underlying dysfunctions.
  • Diagnosis is difficult. Currently there is no one medical test that will clearly diagnose fibromyalgia.  Diagnosis is based on client history and tender point sensitivity. “Tender points” refer to 18 points on the body in which extreme sensitivity must occur in at least 11. Tender point sensitivity, as well as a history of widespread chronic body pain for at least 3 months, provides the most definitive diagnosis at this time. Other symptoms relating to a diagnosis are listed below.
  • There is no one underlying cause of fibromyalgia. Research is ongoing, but there is agreement that fibromyalgia patients have an enhanced pain sensitivity and response originating from the central nervous system. Traumatic illness or injury may trigger the disease. Additional research is continuing to determine other factors that may lead to the development of fibromyalgia including: genetics, environment, autoimmune dysfunction, nutritional deficiencies, and connective tissue disease.
  • Frequency, degree, and location of pain vary from day to day. Any given day a fibromyalgia patient’s level of discomfort may range from mild muscle stiffness to extreme, radiating pain so severe they feel completely debilitated and unable to carry out simple activities.
  • Most treatment is focused on managing the symptoms. The severity of fibromyalgia varies from person to person and day to day, therefore, the treatment plan should be individualized. The client and the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Wellness Coach must be focused, determined, and dedicated to regaining control and managing the condition.
  • A well-rounded management program is important.This may include: nutritional counseling, conditioning, exercise programs, and lifestyle changes. Alternative therapies such as acupressure and massage, stress management, and relaxation techniques may be considered, and I would collaborate with other health care providers outside my practice for your treatment options.
  • Support from family and friends are critical. Understanding fibromyalgia and having the emotional support of those closest to you can make a tremendous difference in your outcome.

Common symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

  • Flu-like pain that can be severe and constant
  • A constant feeling of exhaustion
  • Specific tender points that hurt
  • Overall body aches
  • Depression
  • Muscle stiffness and pain
  • Insomnia or other sleep disorders
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Depression not caused by a trauma or event, but by chronic discomfort
  • Cognitive problems, often called “brain fog”
  • Reoccurring headaches
  • Multiple reoccurring infections
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

At Optimum Health Options, I take a client-centric, holistic (meaning treating the whole body, not just the symptoms) approach to treatment. My treatment approach looks at not only relieving symptoms, but addressing the underlying etiologies that cause those symptoms. Call me at 337-335-0797 to make an appointment.