Typically presenting in young or middle-aged women, fibromyalgia is a condition of soft tissue pain, muscular stiffness, unremitting fatigue, disturbed sleep, and cognitive “slowing”, often associated with a variety of additional unexplained symptoms, psychological depression, and impairment of activities of daily living.
Of note, fibromyalgia was once often dismissed by the mainstream medical community as a psychological disorder without underlying medical causation because of the lack of objective medical findings on screening laboratory tests and medical imaging procedures. However, recent research has helped identify the underlying nervous system pathology for fibromyalgia, which is currently believed to be a central sensitivity syndrome (Burgmer 2009; Yunus 2007).
Fibromyalgia is currently identified as a neurosensory disorder characterized by disturbances in the way the central nervous system interprets and evaluates stimuli (Gracely 2002).
Fibromyalgia typically is associated with other regional pain syndromes, as well as mood and anxiety disorders. In fact, significant data support the idea that fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, regional chronic pain syndromes, and some emotional disorders all involve abnormal perturbations of the stress response system (Buskila 2006; Diatchenko 2006). In these disorders, stress functions to cause alterations in corticotropin-releasing hormone, with associated effects on the neuroendocrine axis.
In addition, fibromyalgia often is observed in other co-morbid disease characterized by chronic, systemic inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and chronic hepatitis C infection (Buskila 2003; Thompson 2003; Wolfe 1984). In such cases, associated disorders of systemic inflammation, chronic stress, anxiety and depression, hormone imbalances, and impaired sleep must be treated for optimum outcome in fibromyalgia.
This protocol will summarize several potential triggers of fibromyalgia symptoms as well as outline steps that can be taken to identify and address them. Using convenient blood tests to uncover potential imbalances or deficiencies and targeting them with scientifically studied natural therapies may improve the quality of life for those with fibromyalgia.