WHAT IS FIBROMYALGIA …
Presented by Dr. John Whitaker of the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers
What is fibromyalgia and how many people are actually affected?
Fibromyalgia is a complex disease in which both genetics and environmental factors play a role. Fibromyalgia afflicts 8 to 12 million people in this country alone. It does not discriminate by gender or age, but predominately affects women between the ages of 35 and 54. It has been found to be genetic, affecting children and the elderly, both male and female alike.
What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?
• Flu-like pain that can be severe and constant
• A constant feeling of exhaustion
• Specific tender points that hurt
• Overall body aches
• Muscle stiffness and pain
• Insomnia or other sleep disorders
• Extreme fatigue
• Depression not caused by a trauma or event, but my chronic discomfort
• Cognitive problems, often called “brain fog”
• Reoccurring headaches
• Multiple reoccurring infections
• Irritable bowel syndrome
What causes fibromyalgia?
The underlying cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. Research is ongoing, but there is agreement that fibromyalgia patients have an enhanced pain sensitivity and response originating from the central nervous system. Traumatic illness or injury may trigger the disease. Additional research is continuing to determine other factors that may lead to the development of fibromyalgia including: genetics, environment, autoimmune dysfunction, nutritional deficiencies and connective tissue disease. Frequency, degree and location of pain vary from day to day. Any given day a fibromyalgia patient’s level of discomfort may range from mild muscle stiffness to extreme, radiating pain so severe they feel completely debilitated and unable to carry out simple activities.
Why is diagnosing fibromyalgia difficult?
Fibromyalgia is a complex disease involving multi-system disturbance and abnormalities. Because of this complexity, these conditions have been poorly treated by the current 8 to 15 minute visits that address only a portion of the wide spectrum of underlying dysfunctions. Diagnosis is difficult because currently there is no medical test that will clearly diagnose fibromyalgia. Diagnosis is presently based on patient history and tender point sensitivity. “Tender Points” refer to 18 points on the body in which extreme sensitivity may occur in at least 11. Tender point sensitivity, as well as a history of widespread chronic body pain for at least 3 months, provides the most definitive diagnosis at this time.
How do you treat fatigue?
Treatment is focused on managing the symptoms. The severity of fibromyalgia varies from person to person and day to day, therefore, the treatment plan should be individualized. A well-rounded management program may include nutritional counseling, conditioning, exercise programs and lifestyle changes. Alternative therapies such as acupressure and massage, stress management and relaxation techniques may be considered and we would work with other health care providers outside our Center in a cooperative collaboration for your treatment options. Support from family and friends is critical.
What makes FFC different from other treatment facilities?
The most important thing we do is spend additional time with, listen to, and become better acquainted with the patients and their history so we can better diagnose and treat them. The most critical way we accomplish this by having them fill out a 24-page questionnaire before they ever visit the center. This gives us a clear picture of their symptoms and treatment history, current issues and provides other information about their health that may play a critical part in their illness and future wellness. We understand the whole endocrine system is interconnected and in FM/CFIDS patients when one or two parts of the system are out of balance, everything is.
The other thing we do differently from most other treatment approaches is in-depth testing to see exactly what is going on internally with that patient. From there we begin to outline a treatment plan that i s very specific to that patient. This includes
• stabilizing the patient by address pain and sleep disturbances
• promoting energy by enhancing the powerhouse of each cell, the mitochondria
• balancing hormones by evaluating hypothalamus and pituitary function
• enhancing immunity and treat underlying viral infections
• addressing unique etiologies such as neurotoxins and coagulation defects
• providing each patient with an individual maintenance program with the minimally necessary medications and supplements to assure absence of symptoms
Our in depth testing process and holistic six step treatment plan, meaning the treatment of the entire body by utilizing a combination of western medicine and alternative therapies, has resulted in enormous successes in treating these conditions. Unfortunately, there is no cure for FM/CFIDS, but we know if we take this approach, we can help patients control their disease and regain control of their lives.
For more information, call (801) 266-3170 or online at www.fibroandfatigue.com