Fibromyalgia or FM is a condition that increases an individual’s sensitivity to pain. It causes extensive body pain among other issues including:
- Poor sleep
- Bladder issues
- Bowel problems
Fibromyalgia includes multiple tender points at specific areas of the body and widespread musculoskeletal pain. Research suggests that the nervous system is the key factor in the pathology of fibromyalgia. This condition affects around four million adults in the United States and roughly two percent of the adult general population. Like most chronic disorders symptoms can extend far beyond the defining criteria. There are chances that a physical examination and tests appear normal.
The condition is a chronic syndrome that is associated with arthritis. The major statistics and facts about fibromyalgia include:
- Muscle tenderness is the primary syndrome
- There is widespread pain that is arthritis-related
- It can manifest as a primary or secondary condition
- It can present unrecognized symptoms that can be difficult to identify
- A high percentage of individuals suffer from sleep problems and fatigue
- It affects physical and mental health
- There are no specific tests to diagnose the condition
There are several theories or triggers that contribute to the progression of fibromyalgia. They are:
Injury or trauma to the nervous system or musculoskeletal system can lead to peripheral sensitization of the sensory nervous system. This tends to be the case with arthritis and peripheral nerve damage. Peripheral sensitization leads to increased sensitivity to sensory nerve stimuli. This results in increased sensitivity to touch and heat and can potentially lead to primary allodynia.
Central sensitization refers to changes in the central nervous system, specifically the brain and spinal cord. The condition amplifies pain. Individuals with fibromyalgia have a reduced threshold for pain. This is caused by amplified brain sensitivity to pain indicators with repeated nerve stimulation leading to changes in the brain.
Sleep disturbances have been associated with fibromyalgia. Studies show that sleep pattern disturbance could be a cause and not just a symptom of fibromyalgia. Poor sleep quality accounts for the majority between pain and fatigue. Major disturbances include:
- Shorter sleep time
- The beginning of sleep is delayed
- Waking right after sleep has begun starts to increase
- Sleep efficiency decreases
- Stirred/Waking out of sleep starts to increase
- Nighttime activity increases
This could be a trigger of fibromyalgia. Patients are recommended to get examined for PTSD. Studies suggest that women suffering from chronic pain that is spread throughout the body and fibromyalgia have an increased risk for posttraumatic stress. Patients also show a reduced function of the HPA hormone. This is proof of an impaired transmitter system. An altered transmitter system in individuals with fibromyalgia interferes with the body’s stress regulators.
Fibromyalgia is more common in women than men. Studies have found that many women find their symptoms improve during pregnancy. Individuals with fibromyalgia tend to yield less cortisol when responding to stress compared to individuals that do not have fibromyalgia. The condition is mirrored when the body is deficient in cortisol.
Changes in Muscle Metabolism
According to NCBI Resources, fibromyalgia is associated with altered skeletal muscles. Decreased blood flow and deconditioned muscles can lead to fatigue along with reduced endurance that can lead to fibromyalgia.
There are some studies that suggest that pain can be influenced by environmental and genetic factors. The condition does not get passed down directly from the parents. But the ailment can present to a group of individuals within a family.
Most reports suggest that fibromyalgia is a chronic condition. When it is related to trauma, the condition tends to be chronic and severe. Reduced pain and improved function can be achieved with the proper treatment. There are treatment options in place that can help individuals alleviate symptoms and prevent flare-ups.
Calorie Restriction and Fasting
Calorie restriction and fasting are traditional ways of losing weight and fat. While calorie restriction is self-descriptive, intermittent fasting and alternate-day fasting involves going for long stretches of the day and night without eating, then getting all of the nutrition in a shorter time. Alternating day fasting alternates days of eating normally, and then not eating at all. Calorie restriction will help an individual lose weight and fat in most cases. It is more effective than intermittent fasting, and not as difficult to maintain. Alternate Fasting results in the same amount of weight loss as calorie restriction. What makes maintaining Alternate Fasting long-term difficult is being able to fight off the hunger on the fasting days.
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American College of Rheumatology. Fibromyalgia. 2013. http://www.rheumatology.org/Practice/Clinical/Patients/Diseases_And_Conditions/Fibromyalgia/. Accessed December 5, 2014.
Wolfe F, Clauw DJ, Fitzcharles M, et al. The American College of Rheumatology Preliminary Diagnostic Criteria for Fibromyalgia and Measurement of Symptom Severity. Arthrit Care Res. 2010;62(5):600-610.