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Common Comorbid Conditions in Patients With Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is such a mysterious condition--poorly understood, extremely challenging for those diagnosed.  The search for new and better ways to diagnose, treat, and improve quality of life for those afflicted is a work in progress.





Today's post brings you some findings by a private practice physician who has discovered two measurable conditions that exist in fibromyalgia patients. He studied 60 fibromyalgia patients and 12 control patients and found two abnormal lab findings that existed exclusively in the fibromyalgia group.   One finding was a low level of magnesium within the red blood cell. The other finding was a significantly lower level of insulin like growth factor (IGF-1), which is used to determine whether or not a person is producing sufficient amounts of human growth hormone. These conditions are treatable: RBC Magnesium can be treated with a supplement, and IGF-1 issues can be resolved with the help of an endocrinologist.


This is important for two reasons:

1) Sinc…

Variations On A Theme: Evidence Of Multiple Types Of Fibromyalgia

Evidence for the existence of fibromyalgia is clear; studies indicate that dysfunction of the central nervous system occurs.  Additionally, the role of the  peripheral nervous system in fibromyalgia is also problematic.  It is now also apparent that fibromyalgia is really not one disorder, but is instead a group of pain disorders that have some common traits.

As new information continues about this disorder, we can learn to use existing drugs and other treatments for this group of disorders in new and better ways.  And new and better treatments will probably emerge as well!

You can read more about this topic by clicking here.

Sources: Flickr; Americahealthfeed.info


A Picture Says It All: Fibromyalgia

Pain and Pregnancy, Part Two

Fibromyalgia was not recognized as a clinical disorder until sometime in the 1990s, but it has probably existed for a lot longer than that.  People of almost any age can be affected by fibromyalgia, but many people are first diagnosed in their twenties. According to the National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association, 75-90% of persons affected by fibromyalgia are women. For these reasons, it's important to share a few thoughts about the management of fibromyalgia in women during the childbearing years.


There are medications for fibromyalgia, but at the present time, these drugs are not recommended for use during pregnancy.  Therefore, alternative methods of fibromyalgia management are very important. These methods include exercise, yoga, meditation,  massage and rest.  Exercise is key, because it keeps you fit and improves mood due to an increase in serotonin levels. Serotonin seems to be a key player in helping one to manage stress, in calming anxiety, and improving mood. An…

Effectiveness Of Ozone Injections Is No Longer Up In The Air

Most of us know someone who has osteoarthritis, if we don't have it ourselves.  Joint replacement surgery is a pretty common remedy when the joint becomes severely damaged and the patient is in a lot of pain.  With risk of complications from such a surgery, perhaps an alternative treatment should be tried first.






One such remedy is the injection of a synthetic version of collagen(e.g. Synvisc®) into the affected joint.  This procedure restores the cushioning to a joint that has degenerated over the years. It can diminish the pain substantially and help put off joint replacement surgery for months to years.  The biggest drawback is that these products are expensive.  GoodRX, a web site that can be used to estimate the cost of medications, estimates the cost of these products to be over $1,000 each.

Here's another example--and I am not sure how widely accepted this protocol has become since study authors introduced it in November 2015.  Are you ready for this? Injecting ozone g…

Microglia: A New Discovery And Its Role in Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is still a poorly understood disorder..but fear not, the push is on to learn more about it so it can be better managed and treated. Ask anyone who has this disorder--it's certainly no walk in the park, and the need for remediation is obvious.




One of the more recent discoveries in this effort is the existence of microglia.  Unique to the central nervous system, these tiny cells travel about to areas of injury or infection. Once there, they send out an SOS to other parts of the immune system. Microglia also attempt to begin the healing process. Inflammation is part of this process. While this is a normal part of the healing process, chronic inflammation is problematic.
It's thought that microglial activation is part of the problem experienced by patients with fibromyalgia...perhaps with respect to brain fog and issues with hyperalgesia (pain amplification) and mechanical allodynia (pain experience from something that doesn't usually cause pain, such as brushing…

Fibromyalgia & Pelvic Pain--It's Not That Unusual

In recent news, it's been reported that women with fibromyalgia commonly suffer from pelvic pain....







An Oregon Health & Science University is looking to expand a preliminary study of 177 females average age approximately 52 years who responded to three different questionnaires regarding these topics: Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ), Pelvic Floor Distress Inventory 20 (PFDI-20), and the Pelvic Pain Urgency, and Frequency Questionnaire (PUF).  When the results were analyzed, a positive correlation between fibromyalgia and the other two conditions was found.
At this point in time, study authors recommend that patients with fibromyalgia be routinely offered all three of these questionnaires to screen for these conditions. 
Sources:HCPLive; Pixabay




Oxygen Chamber Therapy May Benefit Patients With Fibromyalgia

Hyperbaric oxygen chambers have been used therapeutically for many years. Best known to most of us as decompression therapy for scuba divers, hyperbaric oxygen is also used for a number of other conditions including carbon monoxide poisoning, wound healing, and radiation burns.  Now, it appears that this treatment may also prove useful for patients with fibromyalgia. And that is exciting news indeed!






A small scale study of about 48 women with fibromyalgia preliminarily revealed just that. After two months of this form of treatment, seventy percent of subjects showed significant symptomatic improvement, along with improved brain function.  They were almost indistinguishable from their non fibromyalgia counterparts following treatment, according to one expert.

The study findings were reported in the June 2015 edition of PLOS One.  You can read further about this promising research by clicking here.

One thing to point out before you get too excited about finding this sort of treatment f…

The Role of Glutamate in Fibromyalgia and Other Chronic Pain Conditions

The human nervous system uses several different neurotransmitters to send messages throughout the body. The names of some of these compounds are very familiar: serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA, dopamine, and acetylcholine may come to mind.  One of the lesser known neurotransmitters is the compound glutamate.




Fortunately or unfortunately, it appears that this lesser known compound may play a role in pain transmission for those who suffer from fibromyalgia, and perhaps other chronic pain conditions.  It is an excitatory neurotransmitter, meaning that it has a stimulant effect on the nervous system. Researchers report that higher than normal levels of glutamate can be correlated with self reports of increased pain.  For those with fibromyalgia, higher levels of glutamate in the brain (on a chronic basis) may contribute to the prolonged chronic pain experience associated with this condition.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer that is used in the food industry to enhance flav…

Fibromyalgia: Pain Inhibition Issues a Key Problem

Fibromyalgia is a complex problem; if it weren't we would surely have a lot more figured out by now. That being said, one thing is for sure--one key problem is that there is a dysfunction in the usual pain inhibition mechanism.




Here is an example:  If I put on an article of clothing that is uncomfortable--such as a piece of underwear that's too tight...it might feel uncomfortable at first, but as the minutes to hours go by I become less aware of the discomfort....unless I happen to have fibromyalgia.  In that case, the discomfort is the same at the end of the day as it was when I put that undergarment on in the morning.  Can you imagine? If you have fibromyalgia...yes you can imagine.

A couple of studies have shed some light on our understanding of this problem.  In one study, the authors compared the pain experience of fibromyalgia to people with irritable bowel and also normal individuals.  Somehow the fibromyalgia group was the least able to inhibit the pain.  In a second …

Fibromyalgia in Women: Connected to Other Health Issues???

Today's post sheds a very interesting light on our understanding of fibromyalgia--if you're a woman, of course.  This very new study, released in late summer of 2015, examined the medical histories of 219 women with fibromyalgia and 16 other women who suffer from non-fibromyalgia with chronic pain.  The researchers found that there is a likely link between the onset of fibromyalgia and the pre-existence one (or more) of three pre-existing condition types: gynecologic, endocrine, or autoimmune.




The chart review of these patients showed a strong correlation to a history of gynecologic issues prior to the onset of fibromyalgia.  It is not uncommon that these conditions existed for a number of years--which points to the hormonal (endocrine) aspect of the problem.  Ultimately, many of these patients end up having surgery to correct the gynecologic problem at hand.  The study showed a connection between hysterectomies and oophorectemies (ovary removals) and onset of fibromyalgia.  …

A few words about men with fibromyalgia...

Much attention has been given to fibromyalgia in recent years. Much has been learned, but there is still much to learn!  For one thing, ninety percent  of fibromyalgia patients are women.  We know more about this group of patients simply because there are a lot more of them to study.  But men can be diagnosed with fibromyalgia as well--and even though there are many similar disease characteristics, there are also some striking differences.




First of all, men are affected by fibromyalgia differently because of the hormonal differences between men and women.  In women, disease flare can be associated with the menstrual cycle. For males, this is not a  problem.  On the other hand, the primary male hormone testosterone benefits males because it is thought to play a beneficial role in general when it comes to pain. The hormone cortisol also appears to be involved; here again, it appears that women are more greatly affected than their male counterparts. The neurotransmitter serotonin also s…

Music Therapy: A new trend in fibromyalgia treatment

The treatment of fibromyalgia is a bit tricky.  For one thing, there are not many pharmaceutical treatments out there.  It's been said by at least one expert that this condition is best managed without medications.  There are many avenues of approach.  Using a combination of techniques, a patient can regain function and quality of life.





We've discussed many of the treatment options in this blog in the past. Some of them involve exercise or diet; some others strategies or lifestyle modifications that make living with fibromyalgia a less daunting task.

Now comes a small study of a new approach to fibromyalgia treatment: music therapy.  This treatment is one that is best used in addition to other  treatment strategies.  A recent small scale study revealed a statistically significant reduction in pain when the subjects listened to relaxation CDs that contained the sounds of waves and water.  The reduction in pain was seen as early as 14 days into the study!

It's good for all …

Expert: Non Drug Therapies Probably Most Effective Way to Treat Fibromyalgia Pain

Each year, the American Pain Society sponsors a scientific meeting. It is the place where researchers in pain management and health care practitioners converge to share "the latest" in their respective areas of expertise.  This year's meeting included a session on fibromyalgia which was presented by Daniel Clauw, MD who is a professor of anesthesiology at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

During his presentation, Dr. Clauw made some very interesting points about this poorly understood disorder.  It is the second most common rheumatic disorder after osteoarthritis--and tends to stay with a patient for a lifetime. Patients with fibromyalgia experience higher levels of pain than other individuals, even at the slightest touch. It is believed that a mechanism in the brain and spinal cord that seems to be responsible for this exaggerated pain sensation. Dr. Clauw suggested to his fellow physicians that fibromyalgia should be suspected in patients with lifelong histories of pa…

C2 Nerve-Field Stimulation May Benefit Fibromyalgia Patients

Results of a study published in spring 2015 indicate that longstanding treatment for headache may also benefit people with fibromyalgia.  The treatment is known as occipital nerve stimulation, or C2 nerve field stimulation.  This treatment involves surgical implantation of a small device at the base of the skull. Once implanted, the device can be connected to a power source that sends electrical impulses to the nerve. That being said, this is more invasive than some other forms of treatment and that means there is more risk involved when it is implemented.

The study group was relatively small, so everything I am telling you here is preliminary. suppose Further studies would give a better idea of how beneficial this would be for people with fibromyalgia. Early results show an overall 50% improvement in quality of life for subjects in the study.

 If you would like to read more detail about the study, you can reach it by clicking here.

Sources: Chronicfatigue.about.com; Wikimedia

The Fibromyalgia FLOAT Project

Today, I'd like to share something with relatively new in the treatment of fibromyalgia. To be specific, I am referring to the Fibromyalgia FLOAT Project.  The idea was first reported in Sweden back in 2012, and the early studies provided compelling evidence that this technique decreased pain, muscle tension, anxiety and stress.  Freedom of movement, energy, mood and quality of sleep were also greatly improved. It also became apparent that long term relief was possible if participants floated regularly.







What is FLOAT?

Officially known as Flotation REST (Reduced Environmental Stimulation Therapy), treatment is accomplished using a pool about the size of a large bed. The pool is filled with water that is saturated with Epsom Salts. Known as "Heavy Water", this makes it very easy for any participant to rest on their back atop the water with no effort.  The treatment pool is also temperature and light controlled. Each pool is in a private soundproof room, allowing the particip…

Focus on Fibromyalgia: The "Don't" List!

Everyone has a "to do list"; seems perpetual sometimes, doesn't it?

Today, I am paraphrasing an article I read about the "don't" list for people with fibromyalgia and/or chronic fatigue syndrome.  It all seems like good advice to me for most anyone, so I am passing it along! You can read the article in entirety here.




1) Don't overdo it.
2) Don't blame yourself.
3) Don't be self critical.
4) Don't have unrealistic positive expectations.
5) Don't have unrealistic negative expectations
6) Don't believe others' negative opinions.
7) Don't give up too soon.
8) Don't put yourself last.
9) Don't ask why this happened to you.
10) Don't let stress overwhelm your life.

Sources: About.com; wikimedia

Focus on Fibromyalgia: Abnormal MicroRNA

In the first study of its kind, researchers have found something that sets people with fibromyalgia apart from others.  The study leads its authors to believe that  circulating micro RNAs are abnormal in those with fibromyalgia..





What is RNA?
RNA is an abbreviation for ribonucleic acid, a substance that is present in all living cells in the body. It serves as a messenger--carrying signals from DNA (genetic material) to the protein making portions of a living cell.  micro RNA is a fragment of RNA that serves to target specific portions of the RNA molecule, impairing their function.  This impairment can cause deficiencies or abnormalities in protein production

micro RNA and Fibromyalgia

The study mentioned about looked at 374 micro RNAs in women with fibromyalgia and healthy subjects.  Eight microRNAs were different in the fibromyalgia group.  It is believed that this abnormality may be responsible for some aspects of this condition, specifically:


PainPain thresholdSleep qualitySleep quan…

Focus on Fibromyalgia: Exercises that work...and why

For this post, I am sharing some information that I gathered from a fibromyalgia post on About.com--along with my own perspective about exercise and fibromyalgia.




So, according to author Adrienne Dellwo, there have been three recent studies that indicate consistently that exercise is beneficial to patients with fibromyalgia. The first study looked at using a variety of exercise types. Most studies up till now have tended to focus on single types.  The newer study focuses on using a combination of self awareness, stretching, strength training, spine flexibility, and aerobic exercises.  According to its authors, this exercise format was well-tolerated and and patients still felt its benefits six months into the program.
A second study mentioned in this article investigated the effect of strengthening exercises on the autonomic nervous system(ANS) which regulates temperature, heart rate, hormone levels, etc. Apparently exercise did not really effect these things too much one way or anot…

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Have you ever heard of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation?
It is a new form of therapy being studied for various medical conditions, including,Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's Disease, MS, Stroke, and Bipolar Disorder.  During a treatment session, a device is placed against a patients head, allowing magnetic impulses to pass into the brain. The procedure is believed to alter activity levels in relevant parts of the patients brain and may actually restructure neural pathways.




In early 2014, a French study revealed some promising results for patients with fibromyalgia. Repetitive TMS  (rTMS) was studied as a treatment for an 11 week period.  The researchers measured mental and physical quality of life, pain mood, and anxiety over the course of the study. At conclusion, they reported that there was some improvement of condition in the study subjects, mainly in the emotional and social aspects.

It is still too early to know whether or not TMS or rTMS will be the fibromyalgia tre…