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Fibromyalgia affects an estimated 6-8 million people, about 80-90% of them are women. Though it has been recognized for over a century, it has only been defined with specific criteria since 1990. As a physician it is often difficult to treat as it often goes undiagnosed and symptoms can wax and wane making it difficult to track the effectiveness of medicine and treatments.

Exactly what is Fibromyalgia? It is a chronic condition that leaves you with migrating pain all over your body and constant fatigue. The definition of “Fibromyalgia” means pain in your muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The only good news about having the disease is that your joints are not affected and will not deteriorate as in rheumatoid arthritis.

What are the most common symptoms? Some people describe the pain as a throbbing, burning, or shooting pain or a deep muscle ache. They say it is worse in the morning, and feel exhausted most of the time. The person affected may also have sleep disturbances and irritable bowel syndrome. Almost as many as 90% experience chronic headache and facial pain, and about 50% of those experience recurrent migraines. About half report having sensitivities to odors, noise, bright lights, different foods and changing weather patterns. Other symptoms include but are not limited to, difficulty concentrating, morning stiffness, numbness and tingling in the arms and legs, pelvic pain and chest pain.

There is not a lot know on what causes the disease. Some doctors believe that it is a combination of factors. Perhaps chemical changes in the brain in neurotransmitters, like serotonin, and substance P. Others factors include familial tendency (did your mother have it), sleep disturbances, injury to the spinal region has also been shown to trigger the disease in some people.

Treatment options are varied. Treatments are usually long term due to the chronicity of the disease. Also, depression plays a big factor as many patients seem to fall into depressive states needing counseling and medications. Some of the best things you can do for yourself is exercise regularly. Stretching, swimming, water therapy and cycling can help ease muscle spasms and rigidity. Chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, Chinese herbs, massage, ultrasound and ice all help ease the symptoms. Also lets not forget stress management and mental health counseling. Meditation daily brings about a more peaceful spirit which always lessens the spasms in the body and brings a better quality of life.

The best advice is to be patient with yourself and the disease. Do whatever you can emotionally, physically, spiritually, and very importantly, nutritionally to help yourself.

There is help for you, check with your holistic practitioners as well as your MD’s for advice on treatment options.