Fibromyalgia is a condition that affects over 8 million Americans, 80% of them female. People with this chronic condition have symptoms of severe fatigue and multiple sites of aches and pain in their muscles, ligaments and tendons. Years ago, people with this condition were told they had fibrositis, myalgia, rheumatism or were just plain hypochondriacs.
In the early eighties, criteria for a diagnosis of fibromyalgia were formulated to include three monthıs duration of the condition and noticable pain upon palpation (gentle pressure) of at least 11 of 18 common muscle sites. The key areas palpated include virtually all of the large muscles of the body, particularly those used in posture to hold us up.
By the late nineties, however, some doctors began to recognize that fibromyalgia did not have to be present in the whole body, that symptoms could be present even in a single extremity.
Since it is a chronic disease, people with fibromyalgia tend to have symptoms most of the time. Various factors can cause an increase in severity of the condition, however, including weather changes and the degree of physical activity and stress in the patientıs life. Food additives and substitutes (such as aspartamine) have also been shown to increase symptoms of fibromyalgia.
What causes fibromyalgia?
There isnıt a single cause of this condition. The theories run the gamut from the long-term effects of having an infection to the consequences of a trauma to the upper segment of your spine.
What is known is that your Autonomic or Involuntary Nervous System has been stressed by injury, toxicity, nutritional deficiency, or emotional duress. Imbalances within the nervous system affect the small circulation network throughout the body. In the case of fibromyalgia, muscles and ligaments are the most affected.
Care for people with fibromyalgia must be tailored to the patientıs individual condition. All components of your life must be analyzed. This is very much an illness for which the patient has to become active in his or her own care.
For example, while exercise is important, too much exercise can activate symptoms that will cause discomfort for months. Diet is also very important. Creating a diet that allows your body to manufacture its own natural anti-inflammatory agents may reduce your need for anti-inflammatory medications. You must also avoid foods, food substitutes, and food additives that increase the inflammatory response in your body.
Maintaining structural balance can be an important help in preventing unnecessary muscle contractions, as when a dropped arch in your foot causes increased muscle contraction from your foot to your jaw.
In short, every patient with fibromyalgia suffers from diffuse pain in multiple areas and is usually chronically fatigued, as well. It is, therefore, critical that each patient have a personalized treatment plan tailored to the individualıs needs and engaging his or her active involvement in their own care.
Printed with the permission of the International College of Applied Kinesiology.
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Could you or someone you know have fibromyalgia?
The following describes the most common symptoms:
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