Now that we have a better understanding of what Fibromyalgia is, the questions comes to mind, “is there a cure?”
In short, the answer to this is that while Fibromyalgia is still being extensively researched every day, there is no knowledge of any cure to date within the medical community.
However, those who suffer from Fibromyalgia and its symptoms should not give up hope. There are in fact plans and methods that have been specifically designed to treat the symptoms of Fibromyalgia and reduce the negative effects it can have on the body. These plans encourage various lifestyle changes as well as healthy lifestyle regimens.
From what we know, Fibromyalgia is closely tied to stress or “the chronic hyperactive stress response”. This means that high levels of physiological stress have been observed in enough Fibromyalgia patients to suggest a close correlation. A plan designed specifically to easy the symptoms of Fibromyalgia would consist of strategic changes to the everyday habits such as how we sleep, what we eat, and how we perceive pain itself. Evidence shows that the key to managing Fibromyalgia lies in a number of lifestyle changes.
For example, mindfulness-based therapies have been shown to have a significant impact on how pain is perceived by the patient, how the pain is managed, and has even been shown to play a role in the reduction of the pain sensation itself. Mindfulness is also a useful tool in stress management. Studies have shown that the physical and psychological weight of a hyperactive stress response that is typically identified in Fibromyalgia patients can lead to increased pain, increased instances of “fibrofog” and digestive issues. “The goal of treatment is to reduce the negative effects on the body of a chronic hyperactive stress response. Only by doing that can we improve pain, fatigue, and fibrofog.” (Ginevra Liptan, 2016)
Fibromyalgia is often diagnosed in combination with Chronic fatigue syndrome. Patients diagnosed with Fibromyalgia can often times feel drained, have decreased energy levels, and experience difficulty focusing.
As stated above, people who suffer from Fibromyalgia have been shown to demonstrate a hyperactive stress response. Think of your “Fight or Flight” response being constantly active. This response leads to muscle tension, poor sleep quality, and depleted energy levels throughout the day.
While we cannot indefinitely shut down this hyperactive stress response, we can use different techniques to awaken relaxation to combat it. Ways of doing this include meditation, mindfulness, gentle and repetitive physical activities such as Yoga and Tai Chi, deep breathing exercises, Biofeedback therapy, etc.
Fibromyalgia can also have an impact on the digestive system and the physical body. Fibromyalgia has been linked to poor digestion, the poor absorption of macronutrients, as well as “leaky gut” syndrome, just to name a few. This translates into some of the symptoms a fibromyalgia patient may identify with, such as heartburn, vitamin deficiency, bloating, IBS symptoms, peeling finger and toenails, brittle hair, and a decreased appetite.
Diet can play a vital role in the management of Fibromyalgia symptoms. Certain foods have been linked to an increase in inflammation throughout the body. Other foods, such as those containing caffeine have also been shown to impact the symptoms of Fibromyalgia such as increased stomach acid and poor sleep quality.
Through a combination of supplements, changes to diet, and prescribed medications for acid control, the repair to the digestive system can begin. We will further investigate the impact of diet and supplements as well as identify the foods than contribute to the symptoms of Fibromyalgia in order to better self-manage the condition in this series.
Damage to muscle tissue, difficulty with memory and cognition, and a decrease in the release of endorphins throughout the body are also identified in Fibromyalgia patients. We can start healing this damage largely through physical activity.
Exercise can help Fibromyalgia patients by increasing the blood flow to the muscles and brain which will encourage healthy muscle tissue, a decrease in muscle tension and aid with cognition. Exercise also promotes the release of endorphins which act as natural painkillers. Exercise is known to improve sleep quality, reduces inflammation and has been shown to reduce joint related pain.
Specific exercises that you can perform in the comfort of your own how will be explained in this Fibromyalgia series.
Evidence shows that there are many imbalances that are present in someone diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. A diminished energy store is not uncommon in Fibromyalgia patients. Because of this, there is an emphasis on regaining the proper balance of energy levels.
We often also see changes in mood, as well as a hormone imbalance in people who are diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.
By adjusting lifestyle, and the incorporation of vitamins, supplements and proper nutrition, we can start to increase energy levels, improve mood and regulate hormones once again.
Sleep hygiene is also a key player in the regulation of hormones. When we sleep, we offer our bodies the opportunity to repair and heal, as well as rebalance and reboot out internal systems. Fibromyalgia patients typically suffer from poor sleep quality. Incorporating good sleep hygiene can combat these symptoms. In this series, we will further explore what proper sleep hygiene looks like, and what impact sleep can have on Fibromyalgia patients.
Pain is one of the most common symptoms of Fibromyalgia. The pain is typically scattered, with varying pain sensations and intensities. Proper pain control is essential in the management of Fibromyalgia.
Pain management and reduction can be achieved through supplements, anti-inflammatory medications, Beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, opioid medications, as well as Medicinal Cannabis. These medications would be prescribed by a physician.
There are recent theories that the endocannbinoid system is responsible for the homeostasis or “body function balance”. Many believe that an imbalance of that system can contribute to the various symptoms of Fibromyalgia. For that reason, it is believed that medical cannabis can be of help here.
Medicinal cannabis for the management of Fibromyalgia will be closely looked at in this Fibromyalgia series. We will examine the benefits, the methods, and the complexities of how Medicinal Cannabis can be a tool in combating Fibromyalgia.
Throughout this series we will examine further the various avenues in which Fibromyalgia can be tackled. For those diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, it is important to remember that although there will be times that are harder than most other days, one should not lose hope. There is light at the end of this long running tunnel. Visit MyPain.ca for more information on Fibromyalgia and on the techniques and lifestyle changes that can help manage the symptoms of Fibromylagia.