Fibromyalgia is a complex condition characterized 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 in fibromyalgia is actually concentrated in soft tissues at specifically defined ‘tender points’ located around various joints, organs, and other parts of the body. These are places on the body where slight pressure causes pain.
Fibromyalgia is a common disease, affecting from 2-6% of all people. Women are much more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men.
The incidence of fibromyalgia increases with age, and it is most common in women 50 years of age or older. Whilst symptoms intensity 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 provide an 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 – See diagram below
- 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 menstrual periods
Nutrient deficiencies – Insufficiencies of nutrients such as magnesium, vitamin D, or sulfur amino acids can promote 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. NutrEval – MOT Health Test.
Stress – Stress and pain are irreversibly linked in fibromyalgia. For many people, some kind of stressful event is what initially triggers fibromyalgia. People with fibromyalgia often have abnormalities in the body’s stress hormone signalling system. It is 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. Unfortunately, just having fibromyalgia is stressful, so stress reduction is an important part of managing the condition. Imbalances in stress hormones can be measured via An Adrenal Stress Test.
Detoxification – In the body, detoxification is the job of the liver. Almost 2 litres of blood pass through the liver for detoxification each minute. However, it is thought that 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 symptoms such as constipation, diarrhoea, abdominal discomfort and bloating. These can be caused by parasites, poor digestive function, or imbalances in friendly bacteria. In addition overgrowth of bad bacteria or yeast in the digestive system can lead to the release of toxins which are thought to exacerbate pain. Changes in digestive function and gut flora can be tested using A Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis and Parasitology.
Bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine – One particular kind of gut flora imbalance that is very common in fibromyalgia is an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the small intestine. In fact, research suggests that this may affect as many as 75% of fibromyalgia sufferers. Should you feel that a Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis is more comprehensive than you are looking for then A Traveller’s Tummy Test could well be right for you.
Intestinal Permeability – This is also known as ‘leaky gut’. A normal healthy gut lining allows certain molecules to pass across into the bloodstream such as vitamins, minerals and digested foods. It also acts as a barrier to prevent entry of larger damaging molecules, foreign particles and bacteria. When the intestinal lining is compromised, larger particles such as undigested or partially digested foods, bacteria and viruses can enter into the blood stream. This can aggravate the inflammation in fibromyalgia making symptoms more intense. The presence of a leaky gut can be confirmed via A Leaky Gut Test.
Oxidative Stress – This is caused by chemicals called free radicals which can damage the body’s cells and DNA. Some free radicals are made in the body but there are also a huge number of external sources. Sun exposure, pollution, fried foods, smoking and alcohol all increase free radicals in the body. Normally the body has very good mechanisms for mopping these chemicals up, but research by a Dr Pall, an expert in Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue, shows that fibromyalgia sufferers have lower levels of the important antioxidant enzymes needed to mop up efficiently. If you are concerned about your levels of free radical damage you might want to consider a test that gives an indication as to how much oxidative stress your body is under and how well your defence mechanisms are working. Oxidative Stress Test.
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 you should consider having A Food Allergy or Intolerance Test.
Heavy metal toxicity – Exposures 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. Unfortunately toxic metals are rife in the modern environment, forming part of pollution, pesticides, mercury fillings and tap water. If you think heavy metals are playing a role in your symptoms you can get your levels checked by having A Hair Mineral Analysis 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 have an important role to play in the development of the disease. In particular fibromyalgia symptoms have been linked to situations where women have deficient, normal, or excessive oestrogen, but little or no progesterone to balance its effects in the body. This is called oestrogen dominance and is characterised by other symptoms such as PMS, irregular periods and slow metabolism. It has also been suggested that lower levels of the male sex hormone testosterone may also be a contributing factor. Sex hormone levels can be isolated by having a special saliva test called a hormone profile. There are separate tests for males – Male Hormone Panel and females – Female Hormone Panel.
An abnormality in the energy production cycle – The body’s energy is generated by a cycle of special chemical reactions that occur within every cell in the body resulting in the production of ATP – energy. The energy factories of the cells called the mitochondria are sometimes not functioning properly in people with Chronic Fatigue. This can be for a variety of reasons one of them being a lack of certain minerals. A simple test can check your cells capacity to make energy and other possible contributory factors such as a lack of certain nutrients needed for energy production. More information about the ATP Energy Report.