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Fibromyalgia: Getting to the Root of the Problem

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What Causes Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia syndrome is characterized by aching pain and stiffness in soft tissues including muscles, ligaments, and tendons. There are areas of great sensitivity called "tender points." Other characteristics may include sleep disturbances, restlessness, numbness in arms and legs, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, and headaches.

The cause of fibromyalgia seems to be unknown, but it may be triggered or exacerbated by stress. Emotional, physical, or mental stress originates from a wide range of things such as job stress, family problems, poor diet, adrenal fatigue, an imbalance of hormones (such as thyroid or sex hormones), or even air pollution.

For more on possible causes see my article "Signs and Symptoms of Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? The cure may be more basic than you think."


Conventional drug therapy may include
•tricyclic antidepressants in low doses to help reduce pain and promote sleep
•sedatives to help fibromyalgia sufferers sleep
•local anesthetics injected into tender points to relieve pain

While drug therapy can provide some short-term relief, non-drug treatments are usually the most helpful. Specific non-conventional testing may help the physician discover the root cause of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Along with those lab tests, a wide range of therapies can be used to alleviate specific symptoms. Here are some of the approaches I take:

Testing for endocrine imbalances is an important diagnostic procedure. A thyroid panel may reveal hypothyroidism (an under active thyroid gland) that causes a decreased metabolic rate which can lead to decreased energy, unwanted weight gain, and a decline in hormone production of the body. An imbalance of hormones can lead to chronic fatigue and pain. A decrease in specific hormones could include progesterone, estrogen, and DHEA, as well as cortisol, which functions in helping the body cope with stress and control inflammation and pain in our body and promotes sleep and a sense of well-being.

I use salivary hormone testing to assess hormone levels.

Add a Comment2 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

This is a great article -- thanks for the tips, especially about neurotransmitters. I've been recently diagnosed with a neurotransmitter imbalance and was not aware of amino acid supplementation, so I'm definitely passing that along to my naturopath. I've also found the book, Food that Helps Win the Battle Against Fibromyalgia by Deirdre Rawlings to be very helpful and also this article from Marcelle Pick, Treating fibromyalgia naturally

May 23, 2009 - 7:07pm
EmpowHER Guest

Dear Tina,

Thank you, thank you! At Mirasol we have had 3 people come to us with fibromyalgia and eating disorders. We are a holistic center where we offer the interventions you spoke of, all of them except the testing for endocrine imbalanaces which I'll start doing asap.

We have found that many people with eating disorders also frequently can have auto-immune type, chronic stress related conditions. The kind of treatment you're doing and that I'm doing work!! It's a way of giving a client a way to live a very different kind of life.

Jeannie Rust, PhD

May 17, 2009 - 10:59am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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