Fibromyalgia (FM) is a very challenging condition to both diagnose and treat since there are different clinical signs and symptoms unique to each patient’s case. Therefore, the diagnosis is made by excluding other possibilities. To make matters even more challenging, there are “primary” and “secondary” types of FM, or those who develop FM for no know reason (primary) vs. those whose FM arises from a known condition (secondary). Because of these challenges, there is no single treatment program to apply to all struggling FM patients. Rather, studies often suggest that a multidisciplinary “team” of healthcare providers should be utilized in the management of patients with FM. It is recommended that EACH FM patient have their needs be uniquely treated. This month, we will look a “multimodal” approach to treating FM that incorporates a “team” approach.
For those less familiar with FM, many patients with this condition have symptoms that include fatigue, “all over” body pain, sleep problems, mood symptoms, and chronic pain. They may also have conditions including irritable bowel syndrome, palpitations, thyroid dysfunction, adrenal dysfunction, gastroenterological symptoms, chronic headaches, and MANY others. Dealing with these and other FM symptoms can have a tremendous negative impact on one’s quality of life and activities of daily living.
So as previously stated, the treatment of FM requires a comprehensive approach where the patient’s individual symptoms are targeted, as there is no “cookie cutter / one size fits all” management approach. Effective management approaches include chiropractic, allopathic, acupuncture, soft tissue therapy, sleep hygiene counseling, nutritional counseling, mind-body therapy, and dietary counseling including nutritional supplementation that target specific deficiencies determined by lab/blood tests and/or are based on the clinical history.
Treatment is centered on the human body’s deficiencies with the most important being the removal of any and all “trigger(s)” that causes inflammation in the body. Use of an anti-inflammatory herb such as ginger, turmeric, boswellia, (and others) can help until the causes are identified. A gluten-free diet is often very successful in reducing the autoimmune reaction that occurs with gluten sensitivity, which is estimated to be as high as 80% of the general population. This is NOT to be confused with gluten intolerance or celiac disease (which affects 7-10% of the general population). Once inflammation is controlled, weaning away of the anti-inflammatory supplements can be done successfully.
The hormonal levels of the body must also be in balance, especially the thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormone levels. Lab tests should include a complete thyroid panel (TSH, T3, T4, T7/free thyroxin), a salivary cortisol test (for adrenal function), and sex hormone levels (DHEA, pregnenolone, progesterone, estradiol, and, free and total testosterone). Assess and eliminate food sensitivities/allergies (gluten and dairy are most common). Nutritional supplementation should include vitamins (a multiple, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D3, and co-enzyme Q-10; minerals (calcium, potassium, magnesium), amino acids and sometimes others (case dependent)). These keep our organs functioning well, like a finely tuned machine! Care must also be taken not to over-dose, so let your chiropractor guide you in this process!