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Fibromyalgia

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					Fibromyalgia – do you really have it?

Fibromyalgia (FM) is considered an autoimmune disorder. The pain, fatigue, and
numerous other symptoms that are associated with FM can be frustrating to those
suffering including doctors. The symptoms are physically draining, with often
widespread pain sometimes quite disabling. Muscles and ligaments are sore and
aching. Most common areas that people experience discomfort are shoulders, the
back, and neck. However inflammation is not apparent or any visible damage to the
affected tissues. Varying symptoms and pain come and go at random. Patients have
frequently been told that there is nothing wrong and that it is “all in their head” or
that their symptoms were due a virus, depression or to stress. Depression is often
present but not the cause of the condition.

People suffering from FM often experience sleep problems and experience stiffness
when they wake up or when sitting for a lengthy duration. They also lack the
flexibility they had before encountering FM.

Intensity and location of the pain and the degree of fatigue may vary from day to day
with excessive exercise and stress making it worse. Genetic and environmental
components are always considered which can occasionally act as a trigger in people
who are predisposed to the condition. Some families have a higher incidence of FM.
Whilst other people experience the onset when they have had a physical trauma,
severe illness, or it may arise without a discernable “event.”

Common symptoms include:

      Body stiffness, especially in the morning and with prolonged sitting
      Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), pain in jaw joints and surrounding
       muscles
      Depression and anxiety (may coexist)
      Gas and cramping, abdominal pain, heartburn
      Difficulty sleeping
      Difficulty concentrating, memory lapses
      Headaches
      Painful menstruation
      Numbness and tingling in hands and feet
      Chest pain, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath
      Constipation/Diarrhoea (IBS)
      Difficulty swallowing
      Dizziness, balance problems
      Dry eyes, difficulty focusing
      Dry mouth
      Itchy, dry, or blotchy skin
      Localised oedema (such as swollen fingers)
      Neurally mediated hypotension (blood pressure that lowers when standing)
      Painful sexual intercourse
      Pelvic pain
      Restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movement during sleep
      Rhinitis consisting of nasal congestion/discharge and sinus pain (but no allergic
       immune response)
      Sensitivity to light, sound, touch, temperature, and odours
      Sensitivity to medications (more likely to have side effects)
      Urinary frequency, urge, and irritation

Obviously some of the above symptoms are present in other health disorders and not
everyone diagnosed with FM will experience all of them.

Do you really have Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia can and does co-exist with many other chronic illnesses such as chronic
fatigue syndrome (CFS), rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, multiple sclerosis,
thyroid disorders, and systemic lupus. The symptoms of these conditions may be
mingled with those associated with FM, making diagnosis more of a challenge.

On some occasions people may present with a number of the above symptoms in
conjunction with overall aches and pains primarily in muscles and sometimes tendons,
but in actual fact this could be due to other causes, and therefore not “true” FM.

1st Case example:

A young lady at 28 years age came to see me suffering muscular aches and pains and
fatigue throughout her entire body which came in peaks and lows, varying each day, or
different times of the day. She was struggling to continue with her work, but the
determined nature she had made her persist with her love of music – to play the violin
and teach.

She had 4 heart seizures over a span of approximately 5 years and was recently
diagnosed with FM. Prior to the heart seizures her cardio testing was always normal.

Her story had been told a few times and she promptly talked non-stop for over 20
minutes advising me of how her health began to deteriorate.

On listening to her I felt quite strongly parasitic infestation was involved and some of
these organisms are known to attack other organs, including the heart. She had
consumed a meal and drinks whilst travelling in Europe and immediately become unwell
with varying symptoms. This followed with her first heart seizure. Three more
seizures occurred over time and no treatment was offered to assist the symptoms
except morphine for the muscular pain she acquired.
I commenced treating her for impaired gut/bowel and liver function, along with anti
parasitic remedies and specific minerals in particular magnesium in higher doses since
magnesium has been proven to be very helpful in alleviating muscular discomfort and
pain, which is associated with FM. Magnesium interestingly, is an important mineral
for the cardiovascular system. I also treated her weekly with Bowen therapy to free
up chi energy throughout the body and the meridians, (like acupuncture), which
alleviated the muscular discomfort and pain and helped to improve digestive and liver
function.

This lady was diligent with the regime and in just over a week she was finding she
could cope without her powerful painkillers, including morphine. If she over worked
on odd occasions she may have taken a pain killer such as Neurofin to assist. However
progress was obvious week by week, even if slow, and after 2½ months she was looking
like a different person experiencing much less discomfort. It was unfortunate at
this stage of healing with natural remedies that she was obliged to visit a pain
management clinic through medical pressure and was promptly told to cease taking all
remedies and visit the clinic daily. She was shown various exercises to perform daily
and, along with posture analysis to assist with sitting for lengthy periods whilst
playing/tutoring the violin. She was told that she would have this pain for the rest of
her life and that she simply had to cope with it and that the exercises and
appropriate posture would be all she would need. She was also told that the remedies
she had been taking were a waste of time and would not help her for the future. This
woman came to Australia under medical agreement to search for help in resolving her
disorder. This was the reason why she had to attend the pain management clinic.

Shortly after this week, she had to return home to her native country so I have no
idea of her present state.

This did not appear to be a “true” FM case. Ingestion of infected food/water,
created parasitic infestation, and the organism was poisoning her blood having never
been treated and attacking the heart muscle. The fact that specific remedies were
given to counteract this and not primarily to treat FM shows that other factors can
create a similar symptom profile. It is always far better to find the cause and treat
this in conjunction with treating the person as a whole for any discomfort they are
experiencing.

2nd Case example:

Another woman presented with diagnosed FM and had a past history of drug and
alcohol abuse for many years. The debilitating muscular pain experienced became
present in her late 30’s, at a stage when alcohol was still being consumed frequently.
Upon meeting this woman alcohol consumption had ceased for 6 years but she had no
relief with any treatments at that stage (age 53 when presenting to me). I was
advised that the first Bowen treatment gave approximately 55-60% relief, an
astonishing result with such a chronic and toxic body. Progress resumed over months
with regular treatments and relevant remedies to support the body in particular liver,
kidneys and bowels.

The abuse of the body with toxic substances on a daily basis would have contributed
greatly to this autoimmune disorder and its varying symptom profile. Chronic cases
such as this need continual support and a healthy fresh food diet to reduce
discomfort and any painful attacks. Many autoimmune disorders can manifest
through gut impairment/integrity and poor digestive/bowel function and ingestion of
toxic substances over many years. FM is one of these disorders.

3rd Case example:

This lady had breast cancer approximately 6 years ago and the tumour was removed
with some constructive surgery performed. No chemo was administered and
presently there is no cancer present. However within months of the tumour being
removed she began to experience muscular aches and pain. Fortunately this has not
been totally debilitating like some chronic cases, but is a daily persistent ache
throughout her body. FM symptoms have presented themselves here due to the
trauma and illness she experienced that weakened her immunity.

Presently she is improving with frequent treatments, appropriate minerals in
particular colloidal magnesium, herbal remedies and supplements. The gut integrity is
impaired and a long term addiction to sugar laden foods is being addressed. Excess
sugar consumption will leach essential vitamins and minerals from the body such as B
Complex and zinc to name a few. Excess sugar can also create an imbalance in
gut/bowel flora – and this is something that must be addressed to improve on overall
health.

These case examples show quite clearly that nobody needs to endure ongoing
muscular pain and discomfort whether diagnosed as FM or not. Appropriate
treatment can be obtained and this is where natural therapies play an important role
since they will not contribute to further toxicity of the body or weaken the immunity.

The immune system needs to be strengthend in all cases and many pharmaceutical
drugs can impair the gut function which is also reliant on a healthy immune system.

Depression and Pain Tolerance:

It has been observed that FM cases have decreased activity in opioid receptors in
parts of the brain, which affect mood, and emotional aspect of pain. This indicates
how FM patients are not very responsive to opioid painkillers.

Some research has identified a conflict between sensory perception and nervous
system processing therefore creating a greater awareness of, or less tolerance for,
movement problems such as tremor, that doesn’t match with their expected sensory
feedback. This mismatch in sensory signals might enhance perception of pain.

Other people find sleep deprivation is more unbearable than pain, and they may
predominantly suffer restless leg syndrome, which again would compound the
insomnia.

Various deficiencies maybe present here with depression and restless leg syndrome,
which could be ascertained by a blood test on specific minerals, B vitamins, serotonin,
tryptophan and phenylalanine etc.

Herbal and homeopathic remedies are excellent in assisting in varying degrees of
depression especially when the source of the depression is brought to light.

Brain Chemicals and Hormonal Abnormalities:

Stress Hormones: Researchers have also found abnormalities in the hormone system
in the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal gland (AHP) axis. The HAP axis controls
important functions, including sleep, response to stress and moods i.e. depression.
Changes in the HAP axis appear to produce lower levels of the stress hormones
norepinephrine and cortisol. By contrast, levels of stress hormones in depression are
higher than normal. Deficiencies in the levels of stress hormones produce impaired
and weaker responses to psychological or physical stresses such as exercise or viral
infection weakening the immunity.

Medical Treatment:

Many people do not achieve complete remission of their symptoms, but most are told
to learn to live with their condition. FM is not inherently crippling, and it is
considered that it does not decrease the lifespan of those affected by it. Focus on
lifestyle patterns may be addressed. Support groups and counselling may help to deal
with the physical, psychological, financial, and social frustrations their condition can
cause. Medically they state there is no cure for this disorder.

A gentle exercise programme is strongly recommended. Regular aerobic exercise and
stretching can help maintain muscle conditioning, improve sleep, and decrease pain and
stiffness. Caution should be used, especially when starting to exercise, as
overexertion can cause painful flare-ups. Stress reduction and limiting caffeine and
alcohol also may help to reduce symptoms.

Treatment using Natural Therapies:

Depending on the cause and varying symptoms that you maybe experiencing you could
be looking at incorporating more than one type of treatment. I have observed relief
with acupuncture, massage, Bowen therapy, nutritional supplements in conjunction
with dietary assessment/changes, herbal and homeopathic remedies. No two people
would usually be treated exactly the same due to the myriad of symptoms that are
involved with a diagnosed case of FM. To self prescribe here may exacerbate the
symptoms, and you maybe disappointed with the results experiencing only partial
temporary relief. This is a long haul. Initial treatments maybe weekly, then as
progress is seen more spaced out with ongoing maintenance. Maintaining a healthy
fresh food diet for the rest of your life is important and supplementation with
relevant remedies would be something you would continue to take. The positive thing
here is there are no side affects – creating other symptoms or disorders with natural
remedies long term against those of pharmaceutical painkillers. In some cases
remedies would diminish over time, but a recommended maintenance dose would be
taken.

It is essential with all health disorders – especially chronic cases to consume at least
2 litres of fresh/filtered/spring water. No tap water should be drunk without
filtering and boiling. Research has indicated that water ingestion can assist greatly
with pain relief since once you become dehydrated your cells and nervous system do
not function adequately. Water is also anti aging!.

So if you have been suffering muscular aches and pain (whether diagnosed with FM or
not), please be aware there are many helpful therapies available for you to gain relief
and benefit from. You do not need to endure this discomfort for the rest of your
life, relief can be achieved. Same token, there is no magic pill or remedy, you must be
prepared to make some changes with your life and diet.

Lyn Craven

				
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