Fibromyalgia is the kind of diagnostic label that may fit many physiological complaints but all connected by chronic pain in the muscles, sometimes of unexplained origin.
The pain can manifest in any part of the body and can be intermittent or ongoing. Heath professionals often struggle with coming to the diagnosis and accepting the patient’s pain is real but it is a real disorder and frequently underdiagnosed.
Just recently I saw a patient who told me: “I’ve seen lots of specialists who can find nothing wrong with my arm, yet I’m in chronic pain. The pain specialist I saw didn’t believe me and referred me to psychiatrist.”
On examining this patient I found a whole host of fibrotic adhesions (misaligned muscle fibres) in her left bicep, tricep, deltoid and ulnar muscles.
All those areas were sensitive to touch, where once the muscles had been smooth they were now twisted, lumpy and inflamed. She recalled having strained the arm four years previously and ever since the injury it had got worse and spread to other muscles.
People can experience fibromyalgia as an independent disorder where the muscles seem tired, weak and painful. It is often co-diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome or as result of emaciating diseases such as cancer or anorexia.
The nerves in the region can be hyper stimulated and cause referred pain in other parts of the body, which a generally sense of malaise and a low pain threshold.
The illness often begins after a physical trauma such as a muscle strain or tear that damages the muscle and the muscles does not heal to be the way it used to be before the trauma.
Onset can also be due to a significant life trauma or stress on the body that causes muscles to be constantly tense so they become damaged in the course of normal stretching. You may experience nerve twitches where parts of the body start to shake or tremor uncontrollably.
Research in fibromyalgia has found that there is damage to the mitochondria, which is the part of the cell that produces energy. The mitochondria seem to be incomplete and do not die when damaged in order to be replaced by a healthy cell or mitochondria.
Fibromyalgia can also have a psychological element that gives rise to depression and obsessive compulsive focus on the illness and in severe cases people may get to the stage where they are unable to work or move around without pain.
Treatment can include a multidiscipline approach including diet, nutritional supplementation, herbal tonics, rest, and psychological support along with hypnosis for pain control and mood elevation.
Intense exercise is not advised as it only seems to exacerbate the symptoms and discomfort. Myofascial release and trigger point massage is essential to separate the fibrotic adhesions so they can realign in a more healthy structure that creates less torque and distortion on the nerves.
If you think you might be suffering from fibromyalgia and have difficulty getting a diagnosis, be assured it is an illness and does need treatment.
Seek out a naturopath skilled in myofascial release who will work with you both medically and through physiological manipulation. Also seek out a specialist in hypnotherapy who can help you manage the psychological elements of your experience.
To book an appointment at my clinic to recover from fibromyalgia pain, telephone 02 8021 6429.