Although more than five million people in the U.S. suffer from fibromyalgia, there is still a lot of misinformation and myths that surround this disorder. One of the most significant is that the primary symptom can be taken care of by simply getting some rest. While chronic fatigue is part of fibromyalgia, treatment requires more than getting some much-needed sleep. It’s important when diagnosing and seeking treatment, that you are able to recognize the most common signs of symptoms of fibromyalgia.
For too long the diagnoses of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, which may be the same spectrum of disease, have been viewed as undefined illnesses or a constellation of symptoms with no unifying diagnosis.
Predominant feelings of body and joint pain, flu-like symptoms, unsatisfactory sleep, neurological disorders and overwhelming fatigue have been unsuccessfully treated with pain medications, sleeping pills and at times psychotherapy, all of which have failed to give relief and in many instances have made patients feel even worse.
Medications such as Lyrica® and Cymbalta® promoted as treatment for pain have shown little overall benefit while their adverse side effects result in high discontinuation rates.
There is simply no one unified solution to an illness that presents with multiple system dysfunctions. Patients are often misdiagnosed resulting in either incorrect or inadequate treatment. The bottom line: patients end up going from doctor to doctor hoping to find relief in an attempt to get their life back, however, in many cases hormone replacement therapy can help.
Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia
The first step to cure is diagnosis. After obtaining a complete medical history, examination and undergoing comprehensive laboratory testing stabilization of major symptoms is imperative.
The two most prominent symptoms requiring attention are sleep deprivation and pain control. Attaining deep sleep each night is necessary to awaken refreshed. This is often not achieved using standard sleep preparations. Medications such as Xyrem® may be needed to experience deep restful sleep.
Use of narcotics for pain control can actually worsen symptoms whereas non-narcotic products such as ketamine can be extremely effective. With proper diagnosis and treatment patients who suffer fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome can realize major improvements in their quality of life.
Fibromyalgia is difficult to treat because the symptoms can vary and affect every part of the body. For this reason, it’s important to treat the disorder itself rather than rely on medications that might provide relief in only one area. Further, taking medicine for each symptom not only results in an enormous amount of different medications but can also lead to bigger problems and worsening of the fibromyalgia symptoms.
In order to understand and treat deficiencies multisystem disorders need to be separated into their different components: identification and treatment of infections, correction of mitochondrial dysfunction, rebalancing of hormones, the use of immune modulators to correct deficiencies and identification of subtle coagulation defects.
Multiple infections contribute to fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome. Bacterial infections such as Lyme disease, along with coinfections Ehrlichiosis, Babesia and Bartonella, mycoplasma and yeast can all cause symptoms. Viruses like CMV, Epstein-Barr and Human Herpes 6 (HHV6) contribute to dysfunction. All these infections can chronically suppress the immune system and may require long term antibiotic and antiviral therapy.
Suppression of the immune system triggered by infection or adrenal insufficiency are well-studied causes of overwhelming fatigue, brain fog and cognitive impairment. If the immune system is continuously suppressed it cannot fight off the effects of chronic infection. Immune modulators such as high dose B12, naltrexone and isoprinosine strengthen the immune system. A major site of the body’s immunity is the gastrointestinal tract. Conditions under which bacteria, viruses and toxins penetrate the intestinal wall and enter the bloodstream, known as leaky gut, need to be identified and treated.
Mitochondria are the structures within all cells responsible for production of ATP, the main source of energy for cellular function. With fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome mitochondrial function is reduced by chronic infection, toxins and hormonal imbalances which lead to significant fatigue. Correction of these deficiencies results in improved energy production and fatigue reduction. Mitochondrial function can be enhanced with CoQ10, Enada® and ribose, a building block for mitochondria.
The pituitary, thyroid and adrenal glands all work in synchrony to maintain hormonal balance in your body. Chronic stress, adrenal fatigue and decreased activity of thyroid hormone, testosterone and DHEA, as well as estrogen and progesterone in women can significantly affect how you feel. Sophisticated laboratory tests are used to correctly identify deficiencies so hormone levels can be optimized.
Underutilization or failure to interpret laboratory values can lead to misdiagnosis or inadequate treatment. Hormonal balance can be affected by social, environmental and financial stress. Stress reduction management using meditation, yoga, spirituality, rest, and massage therapy can positively impact hormonal rebalance.
Coagulation defects are often present, usually initiated by an event such as a significant infection. These defects do not cause bleeding or clotting problems since they are subclinical. However they can result in the deposition of fibrin, a component of the coagulation system that ‘coats’ the inner lining of small blood vessels and impedes the transfer of oxygen and nutrients to your cells. In essence cells are being starved and fail to function optimally. Fibrin needs to be eliminated so oxygen, nutrients, antibiotics and medications can reach the cells and waste products can be removed. Low dose heparin and nattokinase are used to reduce fibrin deposits.
Fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome requires a multisystem approach. The initial complex treatment regimen can later be modified when many of these imbalances and infections are brought under control. Antibiotics can be discontinued when infections clear and the use of immune modulators can be reduced when the immune system returns to normal function.
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The office does not participate with any insurance programs. However, we will provide a statement with diagnostic information you can submit for reimbursement.
Most laboratory testing is performed in-office with Bioreference Laboratories®. This laboratory accepts insurance as payment in full without co-pay or a deductible. Some specialized testing by outside reference laboratories may not be covered by insurance. Medications may not be fully covered by your health plan.