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Best post of 2014!

This blog post was #1 in my most read posts this year...reposting in case you missed it!


Fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose; many times it's a process of elimination. Weeks, months, and years of suffering go by before those who are afflicted ever know what's happening to them.





If you think you have fibromyalgia and have been struggling to confirm the diagnosis, this self-assessment toolmight help you and your physician to come to a conclusion.

This might also be worth sharing with friends or family members who might find it useful.


Fibromyalgia: Showers vs. Baths

For those of you who have fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome...here are some thoughts about whether showering or bathing is a better option.  I recently read an article by a fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue expert on this topic.  I never stopped to think about what she says...but after reading the article I must say this is definitely food for thought.



Showering in the morning is something many of us find useful to help feel invigorated and ready to start the day.  But for those who suffer from the disorders in question, this can be a problem on a number of fronts.  Here are some examples:

1) Fibromyalgia patients often have heightened nerve response; even the pressure of the water droplets hitting the skin can be irritating.  While you might not take notice in the shower, this effect can overstimulate the nervous system and cause further problems all day long.

2) Taking a shower might cause more exertion than you may think.  It's possible that a morning shower can cause you to…

Reduced Brain Connectivity: A New Finding in Fibromyalgia Patients

A recent peer reviewed report in Brain Connectivity says that women who have fibromyalgia may not be able to manage pain signals as effectively as women who do not suffer from the disorder.  Why?
The article explains that affected patients appear to have reduced connectivity between the areas of the brain that regulate pain.  It is not know whether the reduced connectivity issue comes before the fibromyalgia, or vice versa.





This study contributes to an ever growing body of research that points to physical, measurable links to the disease.  At one time fibromyalgia was thought to be mostly a psychological disorder and not much of a physical disorder.  At present, the research suggests that the opposite seems to be true. For instance, a certain nerve fiber is more predominant in the palms of women with fibromyalgia. Additionally, brain scans provide a way to measure the presence of the disorder.  It's also known that poor sleep quality is prevalent, and contributes significantly t…

Fibromyalgia Coping Tips for School Students

Sadly, the disorder we know as fibromyalgia affects children and adults.  Some of the afflicted are school students; and whether they be adults or children, it's a lot more difficult for the afflicted. Today I am sharing some coping tips for students with fibromyalgia; these recently appeared in an
about.com article that I read.





Let instructors know that you (or your child) has fibromyalgia, and that school absences may occur more frequently than is desirable.  Hopefully they will be able to provide study aids such as outlines to help through the courses.  If they are unwilling to cooperate, talk to their superiors about the issue.For college students--be mindful of your course load so you don't over do it.  This is not as easy for high school students, but don't hesitate to find out what options your school district has to offer.Book bags can be heavy.  It might be possible to use electronic books (i.e. Kindle, Nook) or have a spare set of textbooks at home.  Some textbook…

Fibromyalgia Treatment: A Review of Current Management Strategies

I don't want to bore my fibro friends with some long boring article in this post...so I am going to get to the nitty gritty as quickly as possible.  So, here we go:

A study posted in the December 2013 edition of Pain and Therapy (Okifuji & Hare) presents the results of a study that reviewed effectiveness of various strategies for managing fibromyalgia. The authors considered medications, exercise, behavioral modifications, and multimodal approaches to the condition.  In the end, they say that a lack of methodology really prevents them from statistically comparing these various strategies to each other. 

That being the case, the authors did come to a very interesting conclusion--and here it is, word for word:


"...Although there are some other variations, a typical trial testing a multidisciplinary approach includes education, exercise and psychological (typically cognitive behavioral) therapy. Programs aimed at acquisition of coping and pain management skills seem to provide …

Treatment options in fibromyalgia

Once again, it's time to present a post on fibromyalgia.  It seems like a good time to review some things we already know the treatment for this condition.  If you've been reading this blog for some time, you know that there are medications for fibromyalgia, but they really don't do that much good all by themselves.  The preferred approach to fibromyalgia is a combination of medication and the use of self-management techniques.

As for the medication aspect of the condition, the types of medication fall into four categories:

1) Over the counter pain medications (examples are acetaminophen ibuprofen)

2)Prescription analgesics, such as tramadol

3) Anti-depressant medications--there are many.  Some examples here would be Cymbalta, which is
  a newer agent that is recommended for chronic pain, and Savella, which is specifically for          fibromyalgia.

4)Some of the anti-seizure medications can be used in the treatment of fibromyalgia. These drugs modify nerve impulses...in …

Sleep Issues and Fibromyalgia: Partners in Crime

For people with fibromyalgia, sleep issues can be a big problem. Even though these individuals may have the ability to sleep at night, it is the lack of restorative sleep that seems to be a big factor. The body needs restorative sleep to repair and refresh itself; but for those who are plagued by insufficiency a whole night's sleep does little good. This is not insomnia, but a lack of sufficient sleep quality. Unfortunately, this seems to be both a cause and a consequence of the condition.
Research suggests that this sleep problem stems from a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. A 2009 study suggests that one factor at play is heart rate variability-a measure of ANS function--is abnormal in people with fibromyalgia.  The sympathetic (fight or flight) branch of the ANS seems to be stuck in an "on" position,  causing them to be on guard even when asleep.  As a result, sleep quality is impaired and a lack of restorative sleep is the result. This can become a vicio…

Fibromyalgia: Small Fiber Neuropathy?

The jury is still out on what exactly causes fibromyalgia.  I would suppose if we knew the answer to that question, we would know a lot more about medicinal and non medicinal approaches to treatment. The research is ongoing...and more and more new and interesting information is coming out all the time.



One such study out of Northridge Hospital Medical Center, Northridge,CA and North Central University in Prescott, AZ looked at skin biopsies from the thighs and calves of people with and without fibromyalgia diagnosis.  In their study, they found that people with fibromyalgia had a decrease in the density nerve fiber density in their calves and thighs.  This suggested to the authors that fibromyalgia is actually a problem of peripheral neuropathy.

Current thinking about fibromyalgia is that the problem is in the central nervous system, so this certainly raises some questions.  Also of note was that there was evidence in this study that fibromyalgia is an immune mediated process.




Expert…

Some good news...and some bad news...about fibromyalgia

When preparing for this post, I found a couple of things in the news recently that I thought would be of interest to readers, especially those with fibromyalgia.  I don't know which news you'd rather have first...but I think I'm gonna tell you the bad news.... so we can end on a positive note!



The bad news is that a recent study has revealed a connection between exposure to hepatitis B virus and fibromyalgia.  It appears that a a protein in some strains of the hepatitis B virus is to blame.  Maybe this is actually good news in the sense that, the more we know about fibromyalgia, the better we can understand how to prevent, diagnose, and treat it.


The good news that I have for you--has nothing to do with the bad news.  A meta-analysis of various medications and other modes of treatment for fibromyalgia were studied.  Winifred Hauser, an expert in the field, made the following statement:
"There is no magic drug against fibromyalgia, and in my opinion, there will never be. …

Fibromyalgia and Leaky Gut Syndrome

In prior posts, I have mentioned briefly something called leaky gut syndrome.  In today's post I am sharing a little more detail about what this is, and what to do about it. Since the theme of this week is the gut-brain axis, and that leaky gut syndrome and "fibro fog" are part of fibromyalgia, methinks this is a very appropriate spot for this topic.




Leaky gut syndrome is a kind of grey area in medicine. For one thing, this is not something you would find a a medical textbook.  Not much is really known about the condition except that the symptoms include bloating, gas, cramps, aches, pains, and food sensitivities.  This is possibly caused by a gut that has more permeability than normal. Substances from the GI tract that would not otherwise enter the bloodstream-- seem to enter the circulation in this way.  Once in the circulation, these substances can travel virtually anywhere in the body without interference.

Another condition that often accompanies leaky gut syndrome …

The Vitamin Drip Craze

This blog post is truly more my opinion than anything.  I was looking to write a post on fibromyalgia because I try to post something about it every week for my readers.  This week, I came across some articles about Intravenous Vitamin Drips for various conditions, and the latest one is fibromyalgia.

This form treatment has been around for some time, largely a Hollywood fad.  The celebrities are all about it, claiming it helps to rejuvenate.  Apparently these infusions are customized to the individual and they are said to provide immediate relief because the nutrients can reach their targets instantly. Some websites are beginning to promote this idea as a treatment for fibromyalgia...and that is why I am writing about it today.




A recent story in the Huffington Post tells one such story. Actor Ryan Phillipe and his girlfriend Paulina Slagter apparently use this treatment.  Apparently this treatment makes up for the fact that they don't eat right because they're always busy and…

Foods and Fibromyalgia: Know your enemies!

Usually the number 7 is a lucky number. Maybe in this case it's a lucky number too, because if you know about these seven foods it just might help you to have better control over fibromyalgia!  I had heard about one of them earlier on, then when I was researching this post I discovered this list. So, without further ado, here is the taboo list--complete with rationale.

1) Soy
Many people with fibromyalgia develop "leaky gut syndrome"--a mysterious condition that involves gas, bloating, cramps, food sensitivites, and bodily aches and pains.  Some think soy is healthy--and while some things about soy are healthy, in this case it's best left avoided.  The big problem is that soy is an ingredient in so many processed foods--that you must be vigilant.
Your best defense is to read labels!






2) Gluten
Gluten free diets have become all the rage in recent years; while many people can eat foods that contain gluten, some folks have a definite intolerance to them.  This is because …

Vibration Exercise for Fibromyalgia Relief...hope for the future?

Researchers from Indiana University found that whole-body vibration exercise may reduce pain symptoms and improve aspects of quality of life in individuals diagnosed with the musculoskeletal condition.
Here were are, fifty years later...and a new twist to this concept has emerged.  Researchers from  an Indiana University presented  results from their studies at a May 2014 meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Orlando, Florida.  Their findings suggest that whole body vibration exercise may reduce pain symptoms and improve the overall quality of life for patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia. 
“Our findings are promising, but it is not entirely clear whether these improvements were the result of added vibration or just the effects of being more active," Tony Kaleth, lead author of the study and associate professor in the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, said in a statement.

For patients with fibrom…

Fibromaylgia and Sensitivity to Noise

The pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia are difficult to deal with; these are the most well known symptoms and are being studied extensively.  Other aspects of this condition are just becoming realized--one of these being an enhanced sensitivity to a noises.

Current thinking about the sensitivity to pain in fibromyalgia occurs because there is an  inability to "tune out" painful sensations.  This same faulty filtration mechanism may also explain the problems with decreased tolerance to noise.

In the meantime, there are several things one can do to help control the noise issue:

--First and foremost, try to avoid  noisy environments as much as possible. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

--It might also be a good idea to be familiar with meditative techniques, such as deep breathing techniques.

--If it is possible to leave premises in search of a quieter environment, it would be wise to do so.

--Last but not least, it might be a good idea to have some quiet time afte…

A Patient's Guide to Fibromyalgia

A quick guide to Fibromyalgia from PainMedicineNews.com If you want to save or print a copy, click here!

Disruption Of Brain Signals May Play A Role in Fibromyalgia Pain

The term 'hyperalgesia" comes from the Greek language. It is defined as "an increased sensitivity to pain, which may be caused by damage to nociceptors or peripheral nerves."  





  .........New research findings published in Arthritis & Rheumatism suggest that a disruption in brain signals for reward and punishment...contributing to hyperalgesia in patients with fibromyalgia. 


"In patients with fibromyalgia there is an alteration in the central nervous system pain processingand a poor response to topical pain treatments, trigger point injections and opioids," said lead author Dr.Marco Loggia from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. "Our study examines the disruption of brain function involved in the individual experience of pain anticipation and pain relief."
This study consisted of 45 subjects: 31 of these had fibromyalgia, while the other 14 were identified as healthy. All subjects were subject to cuff pressure o…

Think you have fibromyalgia? Here's a self-assessment to help you and your doctor

Fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose; many times it's a process of elimination. Weeks, months, and years of suffering go by before those who are afflicted ever know what's happening to them.





If you think you have fibromyalgia and have been struggling to confirm the diagnosis, this self-assessment toolmight help you and your physician to come to a conclusion.

This might also be worth sharing with friends or family members who might find it useful.



Source: WebMD, gvarc.org,wikimedia

Drugs for Fibromyalgia: How Good Are They?

In all the months I have been writing posts for this blog, I have observed that people with fibromyalgia are eager for relief.  The current recommendation for fibromyalgia treatment is multi modal--that is to say, it includes approaching the condition from multiple angles--medication, exercise, improvements in sleep duration and quality, etc.  

For today's post, I am sharing recent article from National Pain Report that discusses the medication aspect of fibromyalgia treatment.  After reading it, you will see why medications alone won't help most people.  







Drugs for Fibromyalgia: How Good Are They?
March 5th, 2014 by Dr. John Quintner
Most fibromyalgia sufferers will at some stage be offered a prescription for one or more the  officially approved drugs – Lyrica, Cymbalta, and Savella.
Many will ask their doctors two important questions: How good are these drugs and what harm can they cause me?
Many would be surprised by the answers they get – if the doctor is willing and able to pro…

Common Causes of "Fibro Flare"

Karen Lee Richards, co-founder of the National Fibromyalgia Association, wrote an article for  HealthCentral a couple of years ago entitled "10 Causes of Fibromyalgia Flares."  You can read the article in entirety by following the link.  Here is my summarized version of her article:
Fibro flare-ups are temporary increases in number/severity of symptoms in those who suffer from fibromyalgia. These can include worsening pain, fatigue, memory and concentration problems, and sleep and/or digestive disturbances. These flares can last anywhere from a couple of days to weeks.
Not unlike migraine headaches, these flares are usually triggered by something. It is important to note that a flare is a delayed reaction--it can take up to 48 hours after the trigger event to feel the symptoms.





What kinds of things are these "triggers?" Here is a list of 10 common things that can initiate a fibro flare.
1) Weather Changes     --most commonly due to changes in barometric pressure, when a ne…

Multimodal Approach to Fibromyalgia Treatment Now Widely Recognized

Multimodal Approach to Fibromyalgia Treatment Now Widely Recognized




The American College of Rheumatology established guidelines for diagnosis and treatment of fibromyalgia in 2010. Last year the Canadians, Israelis published guidelines as well. Their ideas are very much in step with those in America.  In addition, the German medical community came up with guidelines that are also very similar.  

Ideas of note from of these medical guidelines are the following:

Extensive physical examination, complete with number and location of tender points on the body is required for diagnosis. Multimodal approach to treatment is an important approach. Medications play a role in treatment, but physical activity and self management techniques, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy.Israeli presenters point out that many drugs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, systemic steroids, benzodiazepines and thyroid hormone) are not recommended for treatment of fibromyalgia. All three guidelines suggest that …