Fibromyalgia Is Not in Your Head

Alternative Health

Mar 22, 2001 at 2:06 pm

So you've been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a syndrome in which you feel chronic pain in your muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints. It's one of the most common chronic illnesses seen in doctor's offices today, affecting four times as many women as men.

Were you told there is no cure and you must learn to live with it, or that it's all "in your head"? Was your treatment anti-inflammatory and pain medication? Were your complaints interpreted as a need for anti-depressants to make you feel better about feeling so bad? Well, welcome to the standard medical practice of masking symptoms and never getting to the cause of the illness.

The good news is there are other options.

The typical fibromyalgia patient is female, between 35 and 65 years of age. She has a history of gastrointestinal problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, spastic colon, stomach pain, diarrhea or constipation, bloating, heartburn or acid reflux. Eventually, as symptoms persist, she feels that she "just aches all over."

A physician diagnoses the syndrome by pressing 18 different pressure-tender points on the body, like the outside of the elbow and the inside of the knee. If 11 or more of them are painful, then you have fibromyalgia.

If you have to live with pain on an everyday basis, your daily energy level decreases and you become more tired than ever. Sleep becomes disturbed, and depression sets in, because you realize life isn't the way it used to be. You aren't offered cures; all you get is temporary relief that becomes less effective with time.

Holistic physicians — that is, doctors who treat the whole person and search for the cause of illness — have known for a long time that there are three similarities among fibromyalgia patients. Most have used antibiotics, which have led to gastrointestinal problems. Most consume too many carbohydrates. And many female patients who use synthetic birth control pills or hormone replacement therapies experience hormonal imbalance. Antibiotics, designed to kill infectious bacteria, unfortunately destroy a very delicate balance of beneficial bacteria living in the gastrointestinal tract. Once the amount of bacteria is reduced, additional chemical changes lead the way to any number of gastrointestinal symptoms, especially irritable bowel syndrome.

Diets high in carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, processed carbohydrates and fast food contribute to pain, because all carbohydrates break down into sugar (glucose), and glucose causes pain. "But," you might say, "I thought breads, pasta, potatoes, rice, fruit and vegetables were good for me." They are, but many people eat too many, forgetting to eat proteins and good fats. Because all carbohydrates break down to glucose, eating too many — from healthy sources or from junk food — has the potential to cause pain.

Hormonal imbalance contributes to pain, and although a difficult task, balance is possible without the use of synthetic birth control pills or hormone replacement therapies. A trained holistic physician can guide you through the all-natural alternatives that your other doctors have not told you about.

contact DAVID DAHLMAN: [email protected]