Article from Dr. Weil's site.

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by debbiem31, Sep 21, 2003.

  1. debbiem31

    debbiem31 New Member

    Sorry if this has been posted already. Don't really have a chance to go thru all the posts right now..


    Fibromyalgia: What is it and how should I take care of myself, being diagnosed with it?


    Updated 12/7/2001
    We don't know exactly what fibromyalgia is. People who have it suffer from pain day in and day out, all over their bodies-- plus fatigue, anxiety and depression. They may sleep, but they don't feel very rested. And yet there is no firm physical evidence of disease that can be detected by blood tests or X rays. It's estimated that 3 million to 6 million Americans are living with this musculoskeletal disorder -- two thirds of them women, most of them white and most between 20 and 50 years old when first affected.

    Theories abound as to the cause of this disease, with many pointing to unusual stress. One study found higher levels of substance P, a neuropeptide involved in pain signals. Another recent article said that people with past neck injuries had a higher incidence of the condition, suggesting that there's a neuromuscular basis for it. Both could be true, but I observe that fibromyalgia has become a "wastebasket diagnosis" into which all kinds of symptoms are dumped, without much understanding of them.

    Doctors diagnose fibromyalgia by testing 18 "tender points," starting between your shoulders. If you have the condition, you probably are tender all over your body, but these areas -- all where muscles attach to ligaments or bones -- tend to exhibit pain with just the pressure of a thumb. Overall, your body may feel sore, stiff, burning or achy.

    Conventional treatments are unsatisfactory, but fibromyalgia is something you can learn to manage. The best recommendation is a steady program of moderate aerobic exercise, at least 30 minutes a day. This may seem overwhelming at first, because the pain can increase over the first few weeks you try this -- and you may need to cut back and build up endurance more slowly. This is one instance where you really do want to "work through the pain." Eventually, it will lessen. Activities like jogging or basketball aren't a good idea. But swimming, walking, using a treadmill or riding a bicycle would be just right.

    It's OK at first to use aspirin to help your body participate in more exercise, but be careful not to develop dependence on painkillers. Ginger is a good alternative to aspirin. (Here's a ginger tea that I like: Steep one teaspoon of the grated root in eight ounces of boiling water for 10 minutes. Strain and add honey if you like.) You also can try ginger capsules available through our Vitamin Advisor. Avoid resorting to sedatives, especially in the benzodiazapene class, which include valium, halcion and atarax. They produce a dependency and rob you of the very type of sleep that you need most.

    Some doctors put people with fibromyalgia on low-level antidepressants, which cause changes in brain chemistry that seem to change perception of pain. But these lose their effectiveness after a couple of years. You also can change your perception of pain using mind-body methods. Since stress seems to be a major factor in this disease, relaxation techniques such as meditation, progressive relaxation and my breathing exercise are critical. Experts in pain management suggest you can reduce pain by changing the way you think about life -- by learning to recognize negative ways of thinking and converting them to a more positive perspective.

    You can also try changing your diet to reduce inflammation. Exclude polyunsaturated vegetable oils and sources of trans-fatty acids such as margarine and hydrogenated oils from your diet. Get more omega-3 fatty acids by including fish(2 to 3 servings a week)or ground flax seed(2 to 3 tablespoons a day sprinkled over food)in your diet.Acupuncture might be useful. Other supplements that might be useful are boswelia and magnesium.

    There's an active fibromyalgia network out there. You can get information from the National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Association, P.O. Box 18426, Kansas City, MO 64133, or call the Arthritis Foundation at 1-800-283-7800.

    Copyright 2003 Polaris Health, LLC