Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by wide spread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbances. Other common symptoms include depression, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, painful periods, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, non-cardiac chest pain, shortness of breath, hypersensitivity to various stimuli (such as noise, odors, bright light, and touch), urinary frequency or urgency, and paresthesias (numbness and tingling). Many patients with fibromyalgia also meet the criteria for diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Conventional therapy includes medications (muscle relaxants, antidepressants, analgesics, and hypnotics like Ambien), counseling, stress management, trigger point injections, and various physical modalities. The response to these treatments however, has been unsatisfactory in the majority of cases. Fibromyalgia places a huge financial burden on individuals and on society, in terms of high health care costs, lost productivity and disability payments.
Diet Modification: Every fibromyalgia patient is asked to go on a whole foods diet (elimination diet): avoiding refined sugar, refined carbohydrates, caffeine, alcohol, food additives, and processed foods. Many patients experience improved energy, fewer aches and pains, improved mood and other positive changes.
Lab testing: In addition to the elimination diet mentioned above, blood tests can reveal hidden food sensitivities. These food allergies can be a contributing factor, but not causative for may patients.
Nutritional Supplements: There have been several published studies looking at various supplements with positive results in fibromyalgia patients. For example thiamine status was lower in 53 patients with fibromyalgia than in healthy subjects.
Hormone Imbalances: Prescribing thyroid hormone when appropriate (please see section on thyroid hormone), can have dramatic effects for some with fibromyalgia. Correcting other hormonal imbalances like progesterone and estrogen may also help a great deal for some patients with fibromyalgia.
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