22.08.2014 Naturopathy

Is It Really Fibromyalgia?

The varying symptoms and pain that comes and goes just add to the burden of this puzzling disorder, says naturopath Lyn Craven

Fibromyalgia is considered an autoimmune disorder. The pain, fatigue and numerous other symptoms associated with it can be frustrating to those suffering and also to doctors.

The symptoms are physically draining, with often widespread pain that can sometimes be quite disabling. Muscles and ligaments are sore and aching. Most frequently, people experience discomfort in the shoulders, back and neck. However, inflammation is not apparent, nor is there any visible damage to the affected tissues. Varying symptoms and pain come and go at random. Patients have frequently been told there is nothing wrong and that it is "all in their head" or that their symptoms are due to a virus, depression or stress. Depression is often present but is not the cause of the condition.

People suffering from fibromyalgia often experience sleep problems and stiffness when they wake up or when sitting for a lengthy period. They also lack the flexibility they had before becoming affected by the disorder.

The intensity and site 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 and can occasionally act as a trigger in people who are predisposed to the condition. Some families have a high incidence of fibromyalgia, while other people experience onset after a physical trauma, severe illness, or it may even arise without a discernable event.

Common symptoms include:

Body stiffness, especially in the morning and with prolonged sittingTemporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), pain in jaw joints and surrounding muscles Depression and anxiety (may coexist) Gas and cramping, abdominal pain, heartburnDifficulty sleeping Difficulty concentrating, memory lapses Headaches Painful menstruation Numbness and tingling in hands and feetChest 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 intercoursePelvic painRestless leg 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 many of the above symptoms are present in other health disorders and not everyone diagnosed with fibromyalgia 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 fibromyalgia, 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 thus is not "true" fibromyalgia.

A Case Study

A 28 year old woman came to see me suffering muscular aches and pains and fatigue throughout her entire body, which came in peaks and lows, at different times of the day. She was struggling to continue with her work.

She had suffered four heart seizures over a span of approximately five years and had recently been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Before the heart seizures her cardio testing had always been normal.

She had told her story many times, so she promptly talked non-stop for almost an hour telling me how her health began to deteriorate.

On listening to her I felt quite strongly that parasitic infestation was involved and some of these organisms are known to attack other organs, including the heart. While travelling in Europe, she had become unwell immediately after a meal, followed shortly after by her first heart seizure. Three more seizures occurred over time but the only treatment she received was morphine for the muscular pain.

Treatment for impaired gut/bowel and liver function was required, 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. Interestingly, magnesium is an important mineral for the cardiovascular system. I also treated her weekly with Bowen therapy to free up Qi energy throughout the body and the meridians, which alleviated the muscular discomfort and pain and helped to improve digestive and liver function.

This young woman 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 overworked on occasions, she may have taken a painkiller such as Neurofin to assist. Still, progress was obvious week by week, even if slow, and after 2½ months she was looking like a different person experiencing much less discomfort.

Unfortunately, at this stage of healing with natural remedies through medical pressure she was obliged to visit a pain management clinic and was promptly told to cease taking all remedies and visit the clinic daily. She was shown various exercises to perform daily, along with posture analysis to assist with sitting for lengthy periods during her work. She was told 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. Within a couple of weeks she returned to her native country so I have no idea of her present state. What a pity she obliged their requests!

This did not appear to be a "true" fibromyalgia case. In my opinion, ingesting infected fluids had led to parasitic infestation, and as this had never been treated it was poisoning her blood and continually attacking the heart muscle. The fact that specific remedies were given to counteract this and not primarily to treat fibromyalgia 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.

Relief from Toxicity

Another woman presented with diagnosed fibromyalgia and had a past history of drug and alcohol abuse for many years. The debilitating muscular pain experienced became present in her thirties, when she as still drinking heavily. When she came to me, she had stopped drinking several years earlier, but she had no relief with any treatments at that stage. After receiving one Bowen treatment, she advised me she had 55-60% relief, a remarkable result with such chronic toxicity! Progress was steady over following months with regular treatments and relevant remedies to support the body, in particular the 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. Fibromyalgia is one of these disorders. Autoimmune disorders can also be triggered by viral attack.

Next month, we will look at how natural therapies can help with this disorder.

Sydney-based Lyn Craven is a practitioner of naturopathy, nutrition, medical herbalism, Bowen therapy, Reiki energy healing and meditation, and is a corporate health presenter/consultant with 19 years' experience in natural therapies. www.lyncravencorporatehealth-naturopath.com

Disclaimer: Information presented in this column is not intended as medical advice but to advance the understanding of holistic nutrition and lifestyle and its place in a balanced approach to health. Readers are encouraged to be guided by their own healthcare professionals.

Lyn Craven

Lyn Craven is a practitioner of Naturopathy, Bowen Therapy, Energy/Reiki therapist, meditation teacher and Corporate Health Consultant. She is also a health researcher/writer and has produced a meditation CD assisting people to manage anxiety and stress. She runs a private practice in Sydney and can be contacted on +61403 231 804