Those Aches & Pains May Mean Fibromyalgia

Fatigue, un-refreshing sleep, emotional distress, widespread muscular and joint pain, muscle spasms, and diffuse tenderness in most areas of the body. Sound like anyone you know? These are all symptoms of fibromyalgia. Chronic fatigue is often associated with fibromyalgia as well as many other disorders, such as irritable bowel, panic disorders, mitral valve prolapse, and PMS, to name a few.

Fibromyalgia is classified as a rheumatic disease affecting far more women than men. It is seen both in children and the elderly and, in fact, the risk seems to rise with age.

Fibromyalgia is a diagnosis made by clinical elimination, that is, figuring out what it is by what it is not. Patients with no known diagnosis, having the above symptoms for greater than three months, and showing positive results on an examination revealing 11 of the 18 recognized sites on both sides of the body are painful to touch, are given the diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

Despite the fact the cause has not been identified, there are many types of treatment.

Conventional medicine is directed primarily towards alleviation of symptoms and management of pain, including anti-inflammatory drugs, tricyclic anti-depressants, physical therapy, and injection of local anesthetics. However, these methods not only lose effectiveness over time but also may make the problem worse.

Think of these symptoms as an oil light coming on in the car. Do you want to simply snip the wire to the light so it does not bother you anymore, or do you want to find out why the WARNING light is on? As most people know, snipping that wire would lead to grievous harm to the vehicle. In the same way, only alleviating symptoms without addressing the cause can lead to grievous harm to your body.

Traditional medicine, otherwise known as natural or alternative medicine, on the other hand, attempts to treat the cause. Just as the symptoms vary with each person, so might the causes. Therefore, each person and their symptoms are assessed individually and a treatment plan is developed.

Did you know that a considerable amount of people with fibromyalgia has a sensitivity to bovine dairy products and report a significant decrease in their pain when they discontinue using them? As with most diseases, diet and nutrition play a large role in the traditional treatment of this disease.

Other traditional treatments shown to hold some promise in perplexing diseases like fibromyalgia, are: acupuncture, homeopathy, manual/manipulative therapies, and mind-body therapies, all of which can be performed by your naturopathic physician.

As we see over and over again, getting back to the basics in health care is not only a good way to prevent disease but to treat disease, too.

– Elizabeth Grady, N.M.D.

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