Fibromyalgia literally means a painful condition of the muscle tissue. It can be debilitating, for example, it is difficult to get out of bed without pain. It is not caused by a pathogen, but by tension in the muscle which cause adhesions. These are made worse by the cold or heat, and may also be triggered by certain foods.
Fibromyalgia syndrome is notoriously difficult to diagnose. There are common signs and symptoms that could apply to a number of disorders such as:
• myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME)
• chronic fatigue syndrome
• rheumatic fever
Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome have many similar symptoms, however, in fibromyalgia, muscular pain predominates general fatigue.
These signs and symptoms include:
• non-restorative sleep
• vague muscle aches and joint pains
• fatigue that seems overwhelming
• swollen lymph nodes
• excessive pain (particularly in joints) after even mild exercise, or
• possible fever.
Fibromyalgia in particular is most easily recognised by the fact that early morning stiffness is present. It is characterised by chronic muscular pain that lasts for three months or more, and at least 11 out of 18 tender points are painful. These 18 spots, where the muscles are unusually sensitive, appear to be grouped around the shoulders, neck, chest, elbows, hips and knees.
A very small percentage of people are affected by fibromyalgia, and these are mostly women. Symptoms usually start in early adulthood, and may be aggravated by aspects such as trauma, grief, depression, stress, lack of exercise, anxiety, etc.
Eliminating certain foods may not work for everybody, and there is no guarantee that it may help at all, but it is worth giving gluten a miss. Eating a diet low in animal protein may also be beneficial.
Other foods that may make symptoms worse and which are worth trying to avoid include dairy, food additives, artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sugars, wheat, alcohol, and caffeine. Limit green peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, and potatoes
The diet should be balanced, and should consist mainly of vegetables, fruits, skinless chicken, and fish. Raw foods and fresh juices should be included; it is essential to drink plenty of liquids to flush out toxins. It is also important to get regular exercise and to try to get enough restful sleep.
Massage therapy could be beneficial for fibromyalgia sufferers, especially gentle full body massage using rhythmic relaxing strokes. Meditation, yoga, and warm showers can be soothing.
As victims of fibromyalgia live with constant pain and are hyper sensitive, deep massage methods should be avoided, as should aggressive trigger point therapy.
While there may not be a cure for fibromyalgia, several lifestyle and dietary choices could be beneficial. These could assist with reducing the severity of the symptoms and help patients cope with the disease. It’s a personal matter of trial and error.