Fibromyalgia is a complex condition characterised by widespread pain in the muscles and joints, as well as fatigue. It was previously known by other names such as fibrositis, chronic muscle pain syndrome, psychogenic rheumatism and tension myalgias.
Although fibromyalgia is defined as muscle pain, the pain is actually concentrated in soft tissues at specific tender points located around various joints, organs and other parts of the body. These are places on body where slight pressure causes pain.
Fibromyalgia is a common disease, affecting 2-6% of all people. Women are much more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men, and its incidence increases with age.
Whilst intensity of symptoms varies, fibromyalgia is not progressive or life-threatening.
Evidence suggests that fibromyalgia is related to multiple chemical imbalances throughout the body. Diagnostic testing and nutritional therapy are excellent tools for uncovering key imbalances and providing targeted therapy.
Signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia can vary depending on the weather, stress, physical activity – or even the time of day. A typical symptom picture includes:
- Pain and stiffness
- Multiple tender points
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Night time muscle spasms
- Restless legs
- IBS symptoms – constipation, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and bloating
- Facial pain
- Heightened sensitivity to odours, noises, bright lights and touch
Other common signs and symptoms include:
- Numbness or tingling sensations in the hands and feet
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood changes
- Chest pain
- Dry eyes, skin and mouth
- Painful menstruation
Nutrient deficiencies: insufficient intake of nutrients such as magnesium, vitamin D, or sulfur amino acids can cause muscle pain and fatigue.
The NutrEval profile is the most comprehensive evaluation available to help overcome chronic disease and promote optimal health. It checks your levels of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fatty acids as well as checking for toxins, free radical damage and energy production insufficiencies. It gives a comprehensive overview of your health status and can be used to target key problem areas that may be exacerbating your condition.
Stress: stress and pain are linked in fibromyalgia – and a stressful event can be the initial trigger for fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia sufferers often have abnormalities in the body’s stress hormone signalling system. It’s not yet clear how pain sensation and an abnormal stress response are related, but we do know that people with fibromyalgia experience more pain when they are stressed.
Because having fibromyalgia is stressful in itself, stress reduction is an important part of managing the condition. Imbalances in stress hormones can be measured by an Adrenal Stress Test.
Detoxification: detoxification is the job of the liver, which processes almost 2 litres of blood each minute. Individuals with fibromyalgia may be less able to break down toxins and eliminate them from the body.
Digestive function: fibromyalgia often goes hand in hand with digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhoea, abdominal discomfort and bloating. These can be caused by parasites, poor digestive function, or imbalances in friendly bacteria. Overgrowth of some kinds of bacteria or yeast in the digestive system can lead to release of toxins which are thought to exacerbate pain.
Changes in digestive function and gut flora can be easily identified with a Digestive Stool Analysis.
Bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine (SIBO): one particular kind of gut flora imbalance that’s very common in fibromyalgia is an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the small intestine. Research suggests that this may affect as many as 75% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
Intestinal permeability: also known as ‘leaky gut’. A normal healthy gut lining allows certain molecules to pass into the bloodstream such as vitamins, minerals and digested foods. It also acts as a barrier, preventing entry of larger damaging molecules, foreign particles and bacteria. When the intestinal lining is compromised, these larger particles can enter into the blood stream, aggravating the inflammation in fibromyalgia and making symptoms more intense.
The presence of leaky gut can be confirmed by a Leaky Gut Test.
Oxidative stress: the health risks associated with smoking, sun exposure and poor diet are thought to be due to free radical damage. Free radicals are produced by both the human body and its external environment, but levels are greatly increased by factors such as smoking and excessive sunlight exposure. In a healthy person, the body is able to mop up the free radicals before they do any harm. However, if we are constantly exposed to high levels or we don’t feed our body the right nutrients through a healthy diet, its defence mechanisms can become overwhelmed, damaging cells and DNA. Research shows that fibromyalgia sufferers have lower levels of the important antioxidant enzymes needed to mop up efficiently.
If you’re concerned about your levels of free radical damage, an Oxidative Stress Test assesses the oxidative stress your body is under and how well your defence mechanisms are working.
Food allergy or intolerance: hidden sensitivities to foods can trigger inflammatory responses that lead to many classic symptoms of fibromyalgia.
If your fibromyalgia is accompanied by digestive symptoms, or you suspect that your symptoms may be related to food sensitivities, a Food Allergy and Intolerance Test can give insight.
Heavy metal toxicity: exposure to heavy metals can burden detoxification mechanisms and compromise the absorption of important nutritional minerals. Individuals with fibromyalgia are often more sensitive to toxic exposure and mineral insufficiencies. Because toxic metals are rife in the modern environment, forming part of pollution, pesticides, mercury fillings and tap water, heavy metals may play a role in your symptoms.
If you think heavy metals are playing a role in your symptoms, there are two ways of testing for toxicity: you can chose between a Hair Mineral Analysis or a Urine Test.
Hormonal imbalances: studies have shown that as many as 80% of fibromyalgia sufferers are women of 50+. This suggests that the balance of the two female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, may play an important role in the development of the disease. Fibromyalgia is linked to oestrogen dominance – normal, or excessive oestrogen, but little or no progesterone to balance its effects in the body. Oestrogen dominance is characterised by symptoms such as PMS, irregular periods and slow metabolism. Lower levels of the male sex hormone testosterone may also be a contributing factor in fibromyalgia.
Sex hormone levels can be isolated by a special saliva test called a hormone profile. There are separate tests:
- For men – Male Hormone Panel
- For women – Female Hormone Panel
Abnormalities in the energy production cycle: the body’s energy is generated by a cycle of chemical reactions that occur within every cell in the body. In the bodies of people with fibromyalgia, the cells’ energy factories – mitochondria – do not always function properly. This can be affected by a lack of certain minerals.
A simple test can check your cells’ capacity to make energy and other possible contributory factors such as nutrient lack and toxic metals.