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Far-Infrared Saunas in the Treatment of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a debilitating, chronic condition characterized by symptoms of generalized musculoskeletal pain and stiffness, chronic fatigue, headaches, gastrointestinal dysfunction, sleep problems and depression. There is no cure for fibromyalgia but symptoms and flare ups can be successfully managed. Though pharmacology tends to be the mainstream treatment, these drugs come with side effects. Furthermore, drugs result in the build-up of toxins in the body. Body toxins are hypothesized to be a significant factor in fibromyalgia.

The Importance of Detoxification In Fibromyalgia

Medications certainly are not the only toxic substances that can build up in our body. Sugar, food colorings and additives are daily culprits. There is also what we inhale and absorb through our skin. The body holds toxins at a cellular level and when these toxins are stockpiled for too long they may either cause or aggravate health conditions.

Our body naturally detoxes when we void, sweat and breathe, yet those living with fibromyalgia may have an increased sensitivity and vulnerability to toxins. Many believe fibromyalgia suffers have a large “toxic load” and problems with their detoxification pathways.

There are many benefits to detoxing for general health and wellness. Emerging research supports a decrease in fibromyalgia symptoms after detoxification treatments, therefore assisting the body with detoxification may be particularly helpful for those living with fibromyalgia.

Reducing your intake of toxins by eating organically and avoiding toxic personal care products, detergents and cleaners is an important step. Other detoxifying methods include lymphatic massage, ionic foot baths and far-infrared saunas.

What Is A Far-Infrared Sauna?

Unlike the saunas you might see in the gym, a far-infrared sauna uses light to create heat. Instead of using heat to warm the surrounding air (which then warms your body), far-infrared saunas emit waves that stimulate cellular metabolism. It acts like the sun, without giving you a tan. It directly heats your body without warming the air around you.

The benefits of saunas is that they make you sweat. This is important because when you sweat, toxins are released from the body. A traditional sauna gives you a surface sweat. A far-infrared sauna, however, makes your sweat much deeper and therefore it’s more detoxifying.

The added benefit of a far-infrared sauna is that it yields the same results as a traditional sauna without the high temperatures so anyone can utilize them without concerns of over-heating.

Far-Infrared Saunas for Fibromyalgia

Sauna treatments have enjoyed popularity in the restoration and rejuvenation of the skin and body. They have demonstrated some benefit in the treatment of health conditions such as fatigue, insomnia, arthritis and pain which are major symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Studies using far-infrared saunas in the treatment of high blood pressure, congestive heart failure and rheumatoid arthritis report some benefit. While more studies need to be conducted on far-infrared saunas in the treatment of a wide variety of chronic illnesses including fibromyalgia, there have been no known studies showing any adverse effects (Mayo Clinic.com)

Other Health Benefits of Far-Infrared Saunas

Far-infrared saunas can be used as a general health and wellness tool for weight loss and stress management. They been utilized in the treatment of a variety of health conditions – from sports injuries to high blood pressure to chronic pain relief. As always, consult with your doctor before embarking on far-infrared sauna treatments.

Written by Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D.

Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D. is a freelance writer with a doctorate in psychology. Her personal essays and parenting articles have appeared in various newspapers and magazines. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four girls, one of whom has extensive special needs. She can be found writing about her adventures in parenting at her blog, Lost In Holland.

REFERENCES

  • Marianne Beck, Women’s Best Health (http://womensbesthealth.com )
  • Brent A. Bauer, M.D., Mayo Clinic (http://www.mayoclinic.com )
  • Kim Henderson, Hot News for Fibromyalgia Sufferers, (http://www.naturalhealingblance.com)

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Pilates as a Safe and Effective Exercise for Fibromyalgia

If you are looking for a functional form of exercise that can help improve strength, balance, and flexibility without worsening pain or fatigue then look no further than Pilates. It is a comprehensive system that also includes light muscle resistance training in addition to performing efficient and balanced movements while building a strong central core. Because the goal of Pilates is to exercise all muscle groups symmetrically, the risk for muscle fatigue or injury is very low.

Can Pilates be effective for someone with Fibromyalgia? Absolutely. In one study, fifty women who had been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia were randomized into two different treatment groups. The first group underwent Pilates training for 60 minutes three times a week for a duration of twelve weeks. The control group was given a home exercise program. At twelve weeks, the group receiving the Pilates training noted a significant improvement in pain as well as a reduction of tender points. They also noted an overall improvement in quality of life compared to the control group. At the 24 week mark, the group who had received the Pilates training did not notice a difference in pain but did have a sustained reduction in tender points and overall life quality compared to the control group. The authors concluded that Pilates was safe and effective in the treatment of Fibromyalgia. The difference in the pain reduction for the group receiving Pilates at 12 and 24 weeks may have been simply that the Pilates treatment stopped at 12 weeks. They experienced a reduction in pain while they were doing the Pilates training.

Fibromyalgia is associated with back pain and chronic pelvic pain. Pilates is also effective in treating low back pain, strengthening the pelvic musculature and improving the stability and flexibility of the pelvic ligaments. Consider adding Pilates to your treatment regimen.

by Rich Snyder, DO

  • Altan L, Korkmaz et al. “Effect of pilates training on people with fibromyalgia syndrome: a pilot study.” Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2009 Dec;90(12):1983-8.
  • Phrompaet S, Paungmali S et al. “Effects of pilates training on lumbo-pelvic stability and flexibility.” Asian Journal of Sports Medicine. 2011 Mar;2(1):16-22.
  • Rydeard R, Leger A et al. “Pilates-based therapeutic exercise: effect on subjects with nonspecific chronic low back pain and functional disability: a randomized controlled trial.” Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy. 2006 Jul;36(7):472-84.
  • Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carollunetta/6365704555

 

 
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Nutrition for Fibromyalgia

Forming a solid nutritional plan is vital for Fibromyalgia sufferers who may be nutrient-depleted. Pain from FMS can be so debilitating that one’s appetite may be quite low, making it easy to skip meals.

An anti-inflammatory, plant-based diet focusing on fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains is highly advised for the treatment of Fibromyalgia.

In order to reduce inflammation in your diet, begin a food journal. Identifying specific foods that trigger pain associated with FMS can help reduce internal inflammation and prevent future reactions. Gluten is a common example that sets off an inflammatory response in the gut. You may consider having your doctor test your blood for a gluten allergy and also for other food sensitivities.

[themedy_media type=”youtube” url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EOieVr0Ef4″]

Sugar is another potent source of inflammation for the body. Sugar and refined grains or processed foods that break down into sugar, can activate an inflammatory response and promote the overgrowth of Candida yeast in the gut. This can further the inflammatory process and disturb digestion. Therefore avoiding sugar in your diet may significantly reduce Fibromyalgia pain.

There is a strong connection between the inflammation seen in Fibromyalgia patients and those suffering from Irritable bowel syndrome or poor intestinal health. Maintaining a healthy intestinal tract can reduce total body inflammation and is key for treating FMS.

Probiotics are often recommended to normalize the gut by replacing bad bacteria with good intestinal microflora.

Digestive enzymes may also prove helpful for the body to digest food more completely and maximize nutrient absorption.

Lastly, Fiber is an essential part of your nutritional plan to manage FMS. It is vital for overall bowel health and can help bind and remove toxins in the intestine from the body.

For more information on Nutrition and Fibromyalgia, please visit Natural Holistic Therapies for Fibromyalgia.

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Do You Have Fibromyalgia? You Might Actually Have Something Else

Fibromyalgia seems to be increasing in prevalence with more cases diagnosed and more treatments prescribed each year. This condition of chronic, systemic flare-ups of pain isn’t new—but it’s certainly become more popular since it’s “official” name, fibromyalgia, was coined around 1990.

Fibromyalgia treatments can be quite rigorous.

The conventional treatment protocols advocate the use of pharmaceutical medications that range from synthetic hormones to antidepressants, to anti-inflammatory drugs, to muscle relaxants, to anti-epileptic drugs. These drugs all come with pretty scary warning labels with side effects ranging from minor inconveniences to life-threatening events, and many are prescribed “off-label,” without any research showing long-term safety or efficacy. These side effects often cause symptoms or new illnesses to occur which require additional pharmaceutical intervention for relief. However, when one is enveloped in the constant, systemic pain brought on by fibromyalgia, they might overlook these issues in favor of relief; and while relief might come while on the drugs, complete resolution is not possible by simply treating the symptoms of the disease.

There are many more natural and holistic therapies for fibromyalgia available, many of which have merit. These options include cognitive therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, massage therapy, nutrition and supplementation, energy work, and detoxification. While these therapies might not offer instantaneous relief from pain (though some might) and often require many treatments over time, they are free from potentially life-threatening side effects.

What causes fibromyalgia?

Western medicine claims there is no known cause of fibromyalgia, but holistic practitioners believe that every disease has a cause, and by identifying and eliminating the cause, the symptom will resolve. In the holistic realm, some suggested causes of fibromyalgia are immune system disorders, toxic build-up in the body, metabolic dysfunction, heredity, illness or injury, unmanaged stress, and human herpes virus. In my own professional experience and education, I’ve learned that fibromyalgia and its suspected causes is very similar to another chronic—yet often dismissed—condition: Candidiasis.

Candidiasis, also referred to “yeast overgrowth,”, or simply as “Candida,” is a systemic infection that occurs when the balance of harmful versus beneficial bacteria and microflora in the gastrointestinal tract (the gut) is disrupted and tipped in favor of the harmful organisms, notably, Candida albicans. Candida albicans is a strain of yeast that occurs in the mouth, gut, and genitourinary tract that exists to digest decomposing matter in the body. When the body has high enough levels of beneficial bacteria and microflora (also referred to as probiotic strains), levels of Candida are kept in check and don’t present any problems.

However, due to several factors in the diet and lifestyle such as:

  • Poor digestion and elimination
  • Consumption of foods that are high in sugar
  • Foods that produce an acidic environment in the body,
  • Inadequate consumption of foods that naturally contain probiotic strains and nutrients that strengthen them
  • Inadequate sleep,
  • Overabundance of stress
  • Overconsumption of yeast-containing foods and beverages like bread and alcoholic beverages

…the Candida in the body grows stronger and overpowers the beneficial microorganisms to the point where they take over and wreak havoc on every system of the body, causing symptoms, and both chronic and acute illnesses including but not limited to:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), acid reflux, and other digestive issues
  • Neurological symptoms such as restless leg syndrome, numbness, and clumsiness
  • Chronic headaches and migraines
  • Foggy thoughts and difficulty concentrating and remembering details
  • Inflammatory conditions like arthritis and swollen joints
  • Extreme environmental sensitivity including intolerance to smells, bright lights, sound, very cold or very hot temperatures, chemicals
  • Seasonal, food, or substance allergies that develop seemingly out of nowhere
  • Skin disorders like acne, rosacea, psoriasis, eczema
  • Hormone imbalance leading to increased menstrual symptoms
  • Frequent pelvic, bladder, and urinary pain and infection
  • Changes in vision or eye health
  • Development of auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, hypo- or hyperthyroidism, lupus, and more
  • Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety

Do these symptoms sound familiar?

That’s because each of these symptoms, in addition to others, have also been associated with fibromyalgia. What’s also interesting is that in the references about Candida, fibromyalgia is often listed as a symptom, and in the fibromyalgia references, Candida is listed as a symptom. One might ask which causes which?

In my professional opinion, Candida is more likely to directly cause the pain and other symptoms associated with fibromyalgia than fibromyalgia is to cause dysbiosis of the gut. Am I suggesting that these conditions are one in the same? Not necessarily, but in my professional experience, addressing Candidiasis with different methods of detoxification, supplementation, changes in diet, and lifestyle adjustments has alleviated or improved many of the above symptoms for as long as the client sticks to proper maintenance plan after following an initial protocol. Candidiasis cannot effectively be treated with chiropractic, acupuncture, energy healing, cognitive therapy, or other methods that do not directly address the reason for the overgrowth in the first place—diet, lifestyle, and toxic build-up.

I’m not suggesting that fibromyalgia isn’t real or that one’s diagnosis is incorrect—what I am suggesting is that many of the causes and symptoms of fibromyalgia point directly to Candidiasis, so by focusing treatment efforts on bring levels of Candida albicans back into check, many of the fibromyalgia symptoms may subside.

There are many products on the market to address Candidiasis—supplements, herbal tinctures, cleanses—you name it.

It’s hard to know where to start. I always recommend to my clients to start first with a close examination of one’s diet—is the person consuming a lot of sugar, bread, foods that are difficult to digest like dairy products and some meats, highly acidic foods, etc. I also recommend keeping track of cravings—Candida is a living organism in the body that will make its host (you) crave what it feeds on and needs to survive. Foods that don’t digest well and therefore leave a good amount of decomposing matter in the body, foods that produce an acidic environment in which the yeast thrives, and foods that naturally strengthen and cause the yeasts to propagate (like sugar and yeast-containing foods) are commonly craved by people with Candidiasis. It’s also helpful to add more foods that naturally contain strong, live strains of beneficial bacteria and other microflora like raw, cultured vegetables (examples are raw sauerkraut and kim chi), kombucha, and non-dairy kefir. Whole-foods-based probiotic beverages and supplements are also helpful.

This might seem overwhelming, but making changes to target Candida can significantly improve fibromyalgia symptoms and overall quality of life—without scary side effects or illnesses caused by them. It’s always helpful to work with a coach or other holistic health professional with specific training on Candidiasis and detoxification who can support and guide you through the entire process and also help you maintain and sustain your results.

By Rachael Pontillo, AADP, CHC, BS, LE

Rachael PontilloRachael Pontillo is the bestselling author of Love Your Skin, Love Yourself: Achieve Beauty, Health, and Vitality from the Inside Out and Outside in, and creator of www.holisticallyhaute.com. She is also an award winning AADP board certified holistic health and image coach, licensed aesthetician, writer, and public speaker. Her writing has been featured in several leading health and beauty publications around the world. Rachael is a recipient of the Institute for Integration®’s esteemed Health Leadership Award and is also a skincare expert and speaker for NeoCell™. Rachael is currently working towards her Ph.D.

www.holisticallyhaute.com
@HHaute
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A Strategy for Living Well with Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia (FMS) is a chameleon of an illness that may present with many different symptoms. What makes it recognizable, however, is this triad: (1) wide-spread chronic muscle pain, and (2) the inability to sleep despite (3) extreme exhaustion. Research suggests that these symptoms are the result of nervous system changes, and alterations in the function of mitochondria, the organelles that produce energy for cells.

Anyone living with FMS soon realizes they need to approach the management of the condition like a Marine: improvise, adapt and overcome. You have to be very strategic about how you modify your habits. Here are a few pointers:

Define the full scope of the problem. Don’t assume all of your symptoms are due to FMS. It is very common for people with FMS to have other conditions that are also characterized by pain and/or fatigue. Ensure you have been thoroughly assessed for alterations in various hormones, especially those produced by the hypothalamus, thyroid and adrenal glands. Have a sleep study done to determine what type of sleep disturbances exist, such as apneic episodes and inadequate delta-wave sleep.

Focus your resources on treatments that deal with the symptom triad first. Irritable bowel, vision changes and other symptoms can be distressing but the sooner you get a handle on the Big Three, the sooner you’ll feel better. And you may find that the other symptoms disappear on their own as your levels of pain and fatigue decrease.

Take charge of your treatment regime and approach it holistically. Studies show that people who use conventional treatments AND complementary medicine get the best results. New recommendations are continuously emerging with respect to pharmaceutical treatment but drug responses are highly individual so you may need to experiment to find the right medications for you. The most effective alternative treatments, however, tend to be “tried and true” for the majority of users. Some of these include:

  • a low glycemic diet (helps with fatigue and “brain fog”)
  • therapeutic dose levels of thiamine (Vitamin B1), inositol hexaniacinate (Vitamin B3), co-enzyme Q10, magnesium and other B-complex vitamins (help with sleep, fatigue, nerve and muscle pain/stiffness by improving mitochondrial function and nervous system health)
  • regular gentle exercise, especially activities that combine deep breathing and mindful movement such as yoga, tai chi and qi gong

Obliterate your stress. Stress makes everything worse, and people with FMS are especially vulnerable to its effects. Eliminating stress, and improving the way you handle the stress you can’t eliminate, can massively reduce your symptoms – yes, it’s that important. Techniques that have been shown to have the greatest impact for people with FMS include meditation/prayer and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.

FMS is an illness that tends to wax and wane, but you can experience lengthy periods of remission if you learn to improvise (find less-fatiguing ways to accomplish your goals), adapt (accept that sometimes you have to cut back on your activities) and overcome (create a health-supporting lifestyle that helps to minimize your symptoms).

Janet McKenzieWritten by Janet McKenzie, ND
Janet is a naturopathic doctor who has lived well with fibromyalgia for over 40 years. You can find her online at www.summitnaturalhealth.ca and @fibrowellness.

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Apple Cider Vinegar for Fibromyalgia

The Miracle In Your Pantry

The merits of apple cider vinegar have been touted for decades. It has a long list of health and beauty benefits. It has been hailed for curing or relieving allergies, sinus infections, acne, high cholesterol, chronic fatigue, acid reflex, sore throats, and arthritis. It can soothe bug bites, stop hiccups, treat eczema, and reduce swelling of feet during pregnancy. It is said to kill bacteria and viruses thus helping to maintain good health and kick colds and flus. It’s often used as a beauty aid for hair and skin, help with stubborn weight loss and assist with detoxification. Lastly, it is an inexpensive, toxin-free, natural household cleaner.

Apple Cider Vinegar And Fibromyalgia

While apple cider vinegar does not treat fibromyalgia per se, it has been reported to alleviate many of the symptoms experienced by those living with fibromyalgia. These include:

  • Fatigue – Stress (both emotional and physical) causes lactic acid to build up in the body resulting in fatigue. The potassium in apple cider vinegar combats this.
  • Joint Pain and Headache – Apple cider vinegar keeps the body’s pH level slightly alkaline which helps eliminate joint pain as well as headaches.
  • Swelling and Inflammation – Apple cider vinegar may be rubbed onto visibly swollen areas. Consuming apple cider vinegar helps relieve inflammation in the body.
  • Gastrointestinal Issues – Apple cider vinegar contains pectin which helps sooth the colon lining. It assists with loose bowels by forming more “bulk” in the G.I. tract.

While rigorous scientific research cannot support any claims that apple cider vinegar fights or cures fibromyalgia, many anecdotal reports suggest relief and reduction from debilitating fibromyalgia symptoms.

Since it is natural, inexpensive and has no side effects or negative consequences (other than a taste that gets some getting used to) many people feel it’s worth a try.

Why Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help?

It turns out apple cider vinegar has some amazing health properties. The malic acid in apple cider vinegar may improve the flow of oxygen to the muscle cells. Trace nutrients in apple cider vinegar may also help with something called “oxidative stress” which is what occurs when energy is converted into those very damaging free radicals. Apple cider vinegar helps raise the body’s pH levels which decreases acidosis, a major factor in pain management.

How To Use Apple Cider Vinegar For Good Health

Most apple cider vinegars found in the grocery store have been filtered, refined or distilled but this over-processing actually destroys almost all of the things that makes it beneficial to one’s health. The best results come from raw, cold pressed, organic apple cider vinegar that has not been pasteurized. This formula should also contain the “mother of vinegar.” Apple cider vinegar in this form will contain the beneficial raw enzymes and gut-friendly bacteria that aid in healing. It is best purchased from a health food store or brewed at home.

The recommended dose of apple cider vinegar is about one to two tablespoons of unfiltered, cold pressed, unpasteurized, organic apple cider vinegar per day. Working up from 1 teaspoon is recommended and finding methods of taking it that are palpable advised. As always, consult with a homeopath or doctor whenever embarking on any homeopathic treatment route.

By Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D.

Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D. is a freelance writer with a doctorate in psychology. Her personal essays and parenting articles have appeared in various newspapers and magazines. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four girls, one of whom has extensive special needs. She can be found writing about her adventures in parenting at her blog, Lost In Holland.

 

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Juvenile Fibromyalgia: Identifying and Managing Fibromyalgia in Children

What is Juvenile Fibromyalgia?

Juvenile Primary Fibromyalgia Syndrome (JPFS) is part of a group of conditions collectively known as Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome. Juvenile Primary Fibromyalgia Syndrome, or JPFS, is a condition that results in symptoms of overall musculoskeletal and joint pain and fatigue. Data is sparse in the area of prevalence, but it is thought that up to 7% of children under 18 have JPFS or similar condition. It is more common in females and the diagnosis in children usually occurs between the ages of 13 and 15.

Along with joint pain and fatigue, other symptoms include disturbed sleep, morning stiffness, headaches, abdominal pain, irritable bowel, tight muscles and periods of swelling. Depression and anxiety are often present. JPFS is frequently triggered by an injury, illness or stress. Many patients with JPFS also have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

How Is Juvenile Fibromyalgia Diagnosed?

Diagnosing JPFS starts with a medical exam which includes a family history, physical exam and a tender point test of all 18 sites. Diagnostic tests should be conducted to rule out all rheumatic diseases and arthritis. To meet diagnostic criteria there must be patient report of pain in three or more body areas over a minimum of three months. In addition, at least five painful tender points must be experienced upon palpation during the exam. Additional symptoms such as difficulty with sleep, irritable bowels, fatigue and headache are often present and these symptoms tend to worsen with stress and/or anxiety.

JPFS can have severe effects on a child’s physical and emotional functioning. School attendance, socialization, and general quality of life are all impacted by this condition.

Managing Juvenile Fibromyalgia Holistically

JPFS is incurable but its symptoms can be controlled by understanding and preventing triggers, maintaining a focus on physical and psychosocial wellness,  and effective management of pain symptoms. As with the treatment of any minor, family involvement is a critical part of the treatment plan.

A traditional therapeutic treatment approach involves a team. This team consists of a combination of collaborating professionals to include at minimum: a pediatric  rheumatologist, physical therapist, and psychologist along with the identified patient and his or her family. The traditional treatment course utilizes a combination of medication, exercise, physical therapy and a form of psychotherapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

A holistic treatment approach is meant to be “in addition to,” not necessarily “instead of a” traditional treatment approach. In general, holistic treatments focus on addressing all aspects of an individual, not just the physical. The overarching philosophy is to live a more balanced lifestyle and understand that physical illnesses are the symptoms of a greater imbalance that may or may not have a root cause in the physical. Holistic treatment of JPFS may include the traditional therapies discussed above in concert with non-traditional medicine.

Recently published studies suggest that the use of Yoga, Tai Chi, and/or Acupuncture may reduce pain, fatigue and stiffness and improve quality of life in patients with Fibromyalgia. Many living with Fibromyalgia manage their diet and nutrition to alleviate symptoms and also utilize therapeutic massage to ease muscle soreness. However, there has not been enough scientific evidence supporting the use of vitamins, nutrition or massage to date.

Many alternative treatments can assist with pain management in Fibromyalgia.  Though patients report positive outcomes in using these alternative treatments, scientific support has not been substantially rigorous enough to make any hard effectiveness claims. Nonetheless, so many are searching for holistic treatments and will consider these minimally-invasive treatments to avoid medication side-effects and to adopt a balanced approach to health and wellness.

The following alternative treatments have been used in the treatment of Fibromyalgia:

No child need be robbed of a full life following a diagnosis of JPFS. Incorporating a holistic approach to the treatment of JPFS most often includes the traditional route of coping strategies, physical exercise, physical therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, and perhaps medication with any of the alternative treatments that help reduce or alleviate the associated symptoms of Fibromyalgia.

By Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D.

Resources

  • fibromyalgia-treatment.com
  • Treating Juvenile Fibromyalgia by Jennifer Cerbasi, (2012) FoxNews.com
  • webmd.com – Fibromyalgia Guide
  • KidsHealth.org – Fibromyalgia.

 

Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D. is a freelance writer with a doctorate in psychology. Her personal essays and parenting articles have appeared in various newspapers and magazines. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four girls, one of whom has extensive special needs. She can be found writing about her adventures in parenting at her blog, Lost In Holland.

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The Connection between Interstitial Cystitis and Fibromyalgia

There are many medical conditions that can occur with Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS). One that you need to be aware of is Interstitial Cystitis (IC). It is a chronic inflammation of the bladder that can be very debilitating for some. It occurs primarily in women, although it also can occur in men. The most common presenting symptoms of this condition include severe pelvic pain and intense burning with urination. In fact, the most common description of this syndrome is that it feels like a “urinary tract infection (UTI) that never goes away.”

A person who has IC has likely been seen by more than one healthcare professional. When their urine is checked, there is no evidence of a urinary tract infection, however, the urinary symptoms persist, and there is little or no relief from prescription antibiotics. Note that while IC can occur on its own, there is a strong connection with Fibromyalgia. In some, the symptoms of IC can precede the development of fibromyalgia symptoms.

Too many women and men are not aware of this condition, and some health professionals may not be aware either. It is important that to find a healthcare professional that recognizes the symptoms and diagnosis, and is willing to work with you to alleviate the symptoms.

Here are ideas for dealing with Interstitial Cystitis naturally.

  • IC is very much associated with certain “trigger foods” or food sensitivities that can worsen urinary symptoms. In some cases, these foods can also be a stimulus for worsening fibromyalgia symptoms as well. Common trigger foods are those that are more “acidic” that can irritate the bladder lining. These include tomatoes, citrus fruits, caffeinated beverages and Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid).
  • It is important to keep well hydrated with this condition.
  • Altered bowel flora can also adversely affect the health of the bladder. Begin taking a probiotic daily.
  • Begin using herbs such as Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) which not only can help with urinary symptoms, but also improve energy and mood and relieve stress from Fibromyalgia as well.
  • The antioxidant Quercetin has also been shown in a few studies to decrease bladder inflammation and pain symptoms associated with IC. Start at 400 mg a day. Quercetin can also help with Fibromyalgia symptoms as well.

Written by Rich Snyder, DO

[themedy_toggle icon=”” heading=”References” onload=”closed”]

  • Bassaly R, Downes K et al. “Dietary consumption triggers in interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome patients.” Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery. 2011 Jan;17(1):36-9.
  • Clemens JQ, Elliott MN et al. “Temporal ordering of interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome and non-bladder conditions.” Journal of Urology. 2012 Dec;80(6):1227-31.
  • Katske F, Shoskes DA et al. “Treatment of interstitial cystitis with a quercetin supplement.” Techniques in Urology. 2001 Mar;7(1):44-6.
  • Nickel JC, Tripp DA et al. “Interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome and associated medical conditions with an emphasis on irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.” Journal of Urology. 2010 Oct;184(4):1358-63.
  • Theoharides, TC, Kempurak D et al. “Treatment of refractory interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome with CystoProtek–an oral multi-agent natural supplement.” Canadian Journal of Urology. 2008 Dec;15(6):4410-4.

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Structural Integration for Treatment of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome characterized by “long-term, body-wide pain and tenderness in the joints, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues. It also has been linked to prolonged or chronic bouts of fatigue, sleep problems, depression, anxiety, and headaches.” Fibromyalgia is a diagnostic term created to objectively define symptoms but each person experiences this syndrome quite differently.The cause of Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) remains unclear without any stout and effective solutions. Therefore, the efficacy of existing therapies varies widely from person to person.
The role of connective tissue, specifically fascia, can contribute to relieving the chronic pain and tenderness in the entire body. Our fascial system dutifully locks in our outward appearance and shape. It is believed that FMS is triggered by physical and/or emotional trauma, and in turn, causes structural imbalances due to the chronic pain felt in various parts of the body. Structural Integration is beneficial in slowly realigning these structural imbalances at a depth and speed the client is comfortable with.
FMS clients experience a plethora of tender points along the body and feel pain in the joints. It is highly important for a Structural Integrator to work fascial planes at a slow pace while simultaneously treating localized pain sites and aligning the whole body as one unit all at once. As a rule of thumb, working cautiously and lightly on the client’s tissue is significant for pain relief. Being open to the results is advised, as response to deep tissue treatment is often highly unique to the individual. FMS clients can be more susceptible to flare-ups, so a lighter touch will often feel significantly deep enough for the client. Generally, I will suggest NOT to participate in any extraneous stretching and exercise that would cause extra soreness 24 hours after his/her session.
It is believed that the issue is related to the nervous system, and not so much in the fascial tissue system that Structural Integrators (aka Rolfers) are known to especially manipulate, lengthen, and reorganize. I find that it is helpful to calm and detune the nervous system into parasympathetic (rest and digest ) ease. Once anxiety wanes, the body will be more receptive to deep tissue work. Usually, as the client progresses through the series, the body is ready for deeper work.
I always recommend an integrative approach for a client, which entails paying attention to and investing the time into determining what the possible root cause of their disease might be. The healing process for the client requires that he/she find relief and support from many arenas such as nutrition, stress management, counseling, homeopathy, craniosacral therapy, lifestyle changes, and perseverance. The beauty in the difficulty experienced is an opportunity for great self-growth and discovery. The Rolf Method of Structural Integration contributes structural and functional optimization, increased body awareness, and the space to ground and relax the overstimulated mind and body of a FMS client.
By Minki KimStructural Integration Professional & WholesomeONE Health Advisor
image source: flickr.com/photos/cosmic_bandita/1145076265/
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The Ayurveda Holistic Health Movement and Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain with tenderness in the muscles, ligaments and joints. People with Fibromyalgia syndrome often experience a high degree of fatigue, accompanied by disturbances in sleep, memory and mood. They are also plagued by overlapping inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, lupus and digestive issues like constipation and inflammatory bowel syndrome.

Pain associated with Fibromyalgia syndrome is typically widespread, present on both sides of the body, and located above and below the waist. When diagnosing Fibromyalgia syndrome, doctors assess 18 tender points by applying firm pressure to specific areas of the body including the back of the head, top of the shoulders, between shoulder blades, front sides of the neck, upper chest, outer elbows, upper hips, sides of hips and inner knees. Patients must experience tenderness in 11 or more of 18 tender points on the body to be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia syndrome.

Although the exact cause of Fibromyalgia syndrome remains unclear, research points to neuroendocrine and neurotransmitter dysregulation, where pain becomes amplified due to the inability of the central nervous system to properly process sensory stimuli. Neurotransmitters like serotonin and substance P are partly responsible for sending the brain signals. Typically with FMS, serotonin levels are lowand substance P levels are high. This results in elevated pain signals to the brain that create hypersensitive areas of tenderness and pain throughout the body, usually at the point of muscle insertion.

Western medicine has gone to great lengths to define FMS as disruptions in the aforementioned biological pathways. While this has proven quite useful in developing therapeutic drugs to treat FMS, experts agree that there is much sufferers can do with alternative treatments to alleviate FMS pain and concomitant conditions.

The holistic Indian medical practice of Ayurveda views Fibromyalgia syndrome as primarily a nervous system disorder characterized by disturbances in the wind and space elements. When these two elements are high, the energetic force of movement called Vata destabilizes the nervous system, creating hypersensitivity and pain. The imbalances in the Vata energy combined with toxic buildup in the body from poor digestion and stress are responsible for the intense pain and chronic reoccurrence of this disorder.

Ayurvedic Bodywork, Nutrition & Lifestyle for FMS

Ayurveda aims to strengthen digestion, relieve FMS associated constipation, and manage the effects of chronic stress. One of the holistic ways Ayurveda can accomplish this is with a purification process called panchakarma (5 actions) and bodywork. Panchakarma includes a series of digestive aids, along with the physical manipulation of the body, to remove toxins and balance Vata energies. In particular, herbal oil massage and sudation (sweating) are used to effectively calm the nervous system, sooth sensitive skin and alleviate sore muscles and joints in FMS sufferers. Skilled staff at Ayurveda wellness centers offers this bodywork under the supervision of a certified Ayurvedic practitioner. Daily self-massage by the individual using herbal sesame oil can also improve blood circulation and break up stagnant lymph that pools throughout the body.

Suggested holistic modifications in diet and lifestyle from an Ayurvedic practitioner are very helpful for patients suffering from FMS. Paying specific attention to eating seasonal, organic, unprocessed foods and avoiding FMS triggers significantly reduces environmental toxins and digestive upset. Nutritionally, Ayurveda recommends fresh vegetable and fruit juices, cooked vegetables, soups and spices like cumin, coriander, ginger and asafetida (hing) to stimulate digestion and relieve constipation associated with FMS. Drinking naturally cooling beverages, such as coconut water and coconut milk, can reduce excess heat in the body from inflammation. Avoiding hot, spicy, fried foods, excessive tea and coffee and alcohol is also advised.

Holistic lifestyle changes include avoiding taking daytime naps or staying up late at night, exercise and reducing stressful triggers in your home and work life. Since Vata is disturbed in FMS, having a regular, structured routine with balance will ground and stabilize the mind, body and spirit. Ayurveda also suggests a holistic approach to mental and physical fitness. Try to include a gentle daily yoga practice, meditation and breath control (pranayama), all of which are known to reduce stress and calm the nervous system, into this daily routine.

Ayurvedic Herbs & Spices for FMS

Ayurveda views food as medicine and suggests several kitchen herbs and spices to improve digestion, eliminate toxins and reduce the chronic pain associated with FMS. For pain and inflammation, individuals can take one half of a teaspoon or up to 500 mg of turmeric powder after each meal, per day, along with a glass of warm water. Incorporating members of the allium genus, like garlic, into meals helps to enhance immunity and detoxification. Also, using anti-inflammatory herbs and spices like ginger and chamomile in teas will help calm sore muscles and settle hypersensitive nerves.

Under the care of a certified Ayurvedic practitioner, individuals with FMS can delve further into Ayurvedic herbology to relieve their symptoms. A daily supplement of tripahala (three fruits), made of the amalaki, haritaki and bibitaki fruits, will cleanse the colon and restore much needed digestive balance. Some individuals, under the care of physician, may take licorice root to help support the endocrine system. Licorice root cannot be taken if an individual has hypertension, heart conditions, pregnancy, diabetes, hypokalemia, or low potassium, kidney disease, liver disease, erectile dysfunction, hormone-sensitive cancers, breast and prostate malignancies, so a physician’s approval is highly advised.

Lastly, certain tree resins called guggulus are very useful in treating joint pain and inflammation and a combination of ten herbs called dashmoola specifically targets Vata energies. Both may be recommended to FMS sufferers by certified Ayurvedic practitioners.

By: Julie A. Cerrato, PhD AP CYT CAT

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Could a Thyroid Disorder be contributing to your Fibromyalgia Symptoms?

Our bodies are geared towards balance, or homeostasis. Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) represents a condition where our bodies are significantly out of balance. A holistic approach examines all of the body’s systems, as abnormal functioning of one or more of these body systems can contribute to FMS. A vital organ whose function should be further evaluated in anyone with FMS is the thyroid gland.

Millions of Americans are affected with a condition called hypothyroidism, which is an under-functioning of the thyroid gland. The most common cause of an under-functioning thyroid gland is due to a condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This autoimmune condition most commonly seen in women causes antibodies to be produced that can destroy the thyroid gland over time. In particular Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is associated with certain antibody tests as measured on blood work, including anti-thyroid peroxidase antibodies (anti-TPO) and anti- thyroglobulin antibodies. Research suggests that these antibody tests – if positive – can increase the risk of developing other inflammatory conditions, especially FMS.

In one study, forty six people that were diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis also tested positive for these antibodies. Of those approximately sixty percent of them were also diagnosed as having Fibromyalgia syndrome. What can we deduce from this study? If you are diagnosed with fibromyalgia syndrome, strongly consider having your thyroid function tests checked, and insist on having the above antibody tests checked. The data suggests that you may be at higher risk of developing FMS.

What can you do to optimize your thyroid function? First, be sure that you include iodine in your diet. As a nation, it is likely that millions of us are iodine deficient. Iodine is crucial for optimal thyroid function. Another trace mineral that you need to incorporate into your treatment regimen is Selenium. Both are important for optimal thyroid function.

In addition, if you are diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroid disease, especially if the above antibody tests are positive, also consider eliminating gluten from your diet. There is a connection between gluten and autoimmune thyroid disease. In one study, a random group previously diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis underwent biopsy of their small intestine to evaluate for possible gluten sensitivity. Approximately fifty percent of those who underwent biopsies demonstrated increased activity of their immune system which was attributed to be due to gluten. In another study from the Netherlands, the authors established a connection with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and celiac disease and recommended screening those diagnosed with autoimmune thyroid disease for celiac disease.

The holistic treatment of fibromyalgia should not just be geared towards the mitigation of symptoms. We must remind ourselves that our body is interconnected and the goal of healing becomes of restoration of our whole body back into balance. As this article points out, a close look at the thyroid is important.

by Dr. Rich Snyder, DO

REFERENCES

  • Bazzichi L, Rossi A et al. “Association between thyroid autoimmunity and fibromyalgic disease severity.” Clinical Rheumatology. 2007 Dec;26(12):2115-20.
  • Hadithi M, deBoer H et al. “Coeliac disease in Dutch patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and vice versa.” World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2007 Mar 21;13(11):1715-22.
  • Tagoe CE, Zezon et al. “Rheumatic manifestations of euthyroid, anti-thyroid antibody-positive patients.” Rheumatology International 2013 Jan 5 (Electronic Publication).
  • Valentino R, Savastano S et al. “Markers of potential coeliac disease in patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.”European Journal of Endocrinology 2002 Apr;146(4):479-83.

Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/86530412@N02/7953227784

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Controlling Fibromyalgia Pain During Pregnancy

Do you have fibromyalgia? Are you thinking about becoming pregnant? If you have fibromyalgia and are planning on becoming pregnant, then you need to develop a detailed and personalized plan with your healthcare practitioner(s) before you decide to move forward. One of the biggest symptoms that women can experience during their pregnancy is worsening fibromyalgia symptoms and this article will provide some suggestions in coping with the pain associated with it.

In one study, 26 women who met the criteria for fibromyalgia were followed during their pregnancy. They reported worsening pain during their pregnancy. In particular, they felt that during the third trimester the pain was worse compared to the other trimesters.

Were you aware that even women who have never been diagnosed with fibromyalgia can experience fibromyalgia-like symptoms during their pregnancy? In another study, 100 women who were not diagnosed with fibromyalgia and were pregnant were followed during their pregnancy. Approximately twenty- five percent of the women reported having several fibromyalgia-like symptoms, especially near term.

As you may be aware, a woman’s physiology changes during pregnancy. The “supporting ligaments” in the pelvis are more relaxed (in part due to a hormone called relaxin). There are changes to the overall body mechanics due to pregnancy that can also alter your structural alignment. This is the cause of worsening pain for fibromyalgia patients, including to the back and the pelvis.

What can you do to help minimize the fibromyalgia symptoms during your pregnancy? Again, proper planning is important. One recommendation is enlisting the aid of an osteopathic physician skilled in osteopathic manipulative therapy, or OMT, for short. Studies have demonstrated that OMT can help not only relieve back pain (especially in the third trimester) but also pelvic pain, both of which can be worse especially in the latter trimester. It is likely that as you proceed through your trimesters you will require more frequent sessions with an OMT specialist to keep your body in structural balance.

In addition to the OMT specialist who can really help with pain and discomfort in the back and pelvis, consider the addition of a reflexologist. A good reflexologist can help you decrease the severity of the pain in those “tender points” that are associated with fibromyalgia. One study demonstrated that weekly reflexology sessions can in fact decrease the severity of pain in highly prevalent areas including the arms, neck, and head.

For those areas that are still causing you some pain, consider the use of acupuncture, which is especially effective at reducing the pain of those “tender points” seen with fibromyalgia. If you are averse to “needles” then consider adding acupressure to your regimen.

Can yoga be performed safely during pregnancy? Yes, but of course it will need to be modified because of your pregnancy, but it can help you with your pain. A study from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine demonstrated that yoga was more effective than simple posture based exercises at reducing low back and pelvic pain.

Concerning the use of natural supplements or herbal remedies to relieve pain during pregnancy, the use of many are contraindicated during pregnancy. When using natural supplements at higher than low levels, you need to be careful. I tend to advocate for the above therapies to help with pain; I believe that a combination of therapies, including OMT and reflexology, complement each other very well.

Dr. Rich Snyder, DO

REFERENCES

  • Gunnarsdottir TJ, Peden-Mcalpine C. “Effects of reflexology on fibromyalgia: A multiple case study.” Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. 2010 Aug; 16(3): 167-72.
  • Licciardone JC, Buchanan S et al. “Osteopathic manipulative treatment of back pain and symptoms during pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial.” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2010 Jan;202(1):43.e1-8.
  • Martins RF, Pinto E Silva JL. “Treatment of Pregnancy-Related Lumbar and Pelvic Girdle Pain by the Yoga Method: A Randomized Controlled Study.” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Therapy. 2013 Mar 18. (Published Electronically Ahead of Print Publication).
  • Ostensen M, Rugelgjoen A et al. “The effect of reproductive events and alterations of sex hormone levels on the symptoms of fibromyalgia.” 1997;26(5):355-60.
  • Saa’s S, Many A et al. “High prevalence of fibromyalgia symptoms among healthy full-term pregnant women.” Rheumatology International. 2013 Jun;33(6):1555-60.
  • Tettambel MA. “An osteopathic approach to treating women with chronic pelvic pain.” Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. 2005 Sep;105(9 Suppl 4):S20-2.

Photo Credit: thepregnancyzone.com

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