Fibromyalgia: What it is and How to Treat It

After my recent post on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), I felt it was important to spotlight Fibromyalgia (FM), a debilitating symptom of CFS and a free-standing diagnosis all its own. For many people, FM and CFS are the same illness. For others, FM exists without all of the other symptoms of CFS.

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a sleep disorder characterized by multiple tender knots (trigger points) in the muscles. Like CFS, sleep disturbance is a major issue. Unlike CFS, pain is the major defining symptom in FM. In my experience with FM patients, the severe sleep deprivation and constant pain will eventually cause overwhelming fatigue, thus the diagnosis of CFS. It is all a vicious cycle that revolves around the concept of energy deficiency as I discussed in the CFS blog.

There are 3 criteria for proper diagnosis of FM, as developed by the CDC.

  1. Pain above and below the waist on both sides of the body
  2. Pain down the middle of the body (head, back, chest)
  3. Tenderness in 11 out of 18 arbitrarily chosen locations on the body.

I don’t waste much time in trying to identify trigger points for the sole purpose of diagnosis. If a patient is NOT sleeping, has true tenderness in the belly of major muscles (notice the plural), I treat this as FM.

In treating patients with fibromyalgia, I follow almost exactly the same protocol as outlined for CFS.

It is truly remarkable how much better people feel when they can sleep soundly for 8 straight hours….so, fixing the sleep issue is vitally important.  Removing inflammatory foods, such as gluten, can relieve the pain of this condition; therefore, the strict elimination diet is essential for treatment. Fix a woman’s hormones and her pain disappears, so addressing the hormonal imbalances utilizing Bio-Identical hormone replacement is important.

I cannot stress the importance of Acupuncture, Active Release Therapy (ART), Chiropractic care and Massage Therapy for FM. Continuous, long term therapy is a MUST for these pain sufferers. Many of my patients are receiving therapy 2-3 times a week in order to function pain-free.

In addition to all of this, the one therapeutic supplement that addresses the body’s energy deficit is D-Ribose. Many of my patients experience tremendous pain relief when D-ribose is incorporated into their day. D-ribose is a NON-GLYCEMIC sugar, which means that it doesn’t raise your blood sugar. The body uses this sugar to make ATP which is the body’s energy source. With D-ribose you are supplementing the body with the energy that it can’t produce on its own. It’s like filling your body’s gas tank. The D-ribose is immediately ushered into the skeletal muscles and heart muscle so that those muscles can work more efficiently. I recommend 5 grams of powdered D-ribose (mixed in water or protein shake) 3 times a day for about a month or until I can see a clinical improvement. After exercise or strenuous activity, I usually recommend an additional dose can be taken.

As with CFS, Fibromyalgia requires continuous, regimented care and supervision by a trained doctor. Setbacks are common, but overall, patients can live functional, pain-free lives when they follow my protocol.

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