I have a penfriend who has suffered with this condition for many years and has kindly given her input as to the difficulties in getting the thing diagnosed in the first place. This is half the problem, as Dr David Brady wholeheartedly agrees. Dr Brady has spent the last 20 years looking into the effects of fibromyalgia with his patients and says:
“Misdiagnosis and improper treatment of fibromyalgia is rampant. Tens of millions diagnosed with fibromyalgia may actually have other problems accounting for their symptoms, which leads to improper treatment.”
This figure is quite staggering to me.
If you are someone who likes synchronicity, you will appreciate this: on the very day I chose to begin writing about this topic, my inbox provided an invitation to the FMS summit – an online presentation of talks and interviews hosted by the above mentioned Dr Brady. Suddenly within my hands was all the information and the newest most forward thinking on it, which just happens to coincide with my friend’s experience over the years in regard to misdiagnosis. She pointed out that FMS could well mean Frustrating Medical Syndrome. The mental and emotional stress from not being diagnosed correctly – or even believed – by some doctors and “experts”, only adds to the complex route to a solution.
Dr Brady has recently written a book on the subject of fibromyalgia which he hopes will be used by doctors, not just those suffering from the condition. The conclusion here is that the majority of doctors are confused by it, and have little desire to understand it further. This has led to many patients being handed drugs to keep them away.
Until Dr Brady’s information arrived, most of what I had read about FMS relied on the recognition of “trigger points”. Yet Dr Brady makes a very clear distinction between these and “tender points”, which are different and will soon be explained.
He says: “Tender points are key to diagnosing fibromyalgia — trigger points are not. Fibromyalgia is not a muscle disorder with trigger points; it’s a global pain syndrome with tender points. Tender points are not to be confused with what are known as trigger points, which are linked to an entirely different musculoskeletal condition known as myofascial pain syndrome, which has nothing to do with fibromyalgia.”
I am quoting heavily from this book as it is SO important, and yet it seems only a few health professionals are aware of this. Hopefully Dr Brady and his team of fellow natural health experts will aid in turning this around. He continues:
“It must be stressed again that trigger points also feel different to the touch than tender points. Trigger points have a distinct texture and feel like knots or nodules under a tight band of muscle tissue. Tender points, on the other hand, do not have any distinct textural abnormalities; they simply feel tender to the person.
Despite the fundamental differences between the two, many doctors are themselves confused and spread misinformation about this key distinction. I have seen medical textbooks as well as papers in peer reviewed medical journals confuse the two.”
It may be that you have fibromyalgia but have been diagnosed with some other condition. Or possibly it is the other way around, and fibromyalgia is a misdiagnosis for you. Whichever it is, correct diagnosis is key to proper treatment.
An Integrative Approach
If you read my other writings on here, you will note that I am fond of saying that your body is speaking to you via the pain or discomfort you are receiving from it.
Niki Gratrix agrees with this, advising that the root of the problem needs to be dealt with, not just the dulling of pain. Niki co-founded the largest mind-body clinic of integrative medicine in the UK which specializes in another disorder: chronic fatigue syndrome.
When my friend tells me of her lack of sleep and her various pains, I’m amazed with how she manages to run a home and carry on. However, this is a lady whom before I knew her overcame breast cancer, so she is both strong and resourceful. Interestingly, people who have suffered trauma are likely to develop FMS, and developing cancer as a young mum with children to care for is a traumatic event without doubt.
Given that many factors can cause stress responses, it makes sense that several approaches to healing should be combined.
Niki Gratrix found that her patients would invariably give up too soon with only one method of healing. She notes how people would use one method at a time, such as removing gluten from their diet for 6 months. Finding that it didn’t have a major effect, they stop doing that and try another avenue of healing. She advises against this “piecemeal approach” suggesting instead that dietary factors and yoga and emotional healing be combined, until the “tipping point” is reached. It may take months and even years, and this is yet another barrier for us impatient people to overcome. We want results now, immediately. Never mind that it may have taken years for the body to get into this messed up state. She writes of chronic fatigue syndrome, but I believe this applies to fibromyalgia too. And using several methods at once can overcome this.
Assuming you actually do have the true FM syndrome, it has been found that serotonin levels may be low. Serotonin is a substance that carries messages between parts of the limbic system. In doing so, it affects pain perception and sleep quality.
So organizing the various avenues of healing into “one” natural treatment for fibromyalgia, we find the areas to focus on are:
- Improving your diet and detoxing
- Using yoga or other calming exercise daily
- Taking supplements to raise serotonin such as 5–HTP or melatonin
- Adressing the mental / spiritual issues
But most of all, get the correct diagnosis. This is the most important and most difficult part, but DO find a practitioner who will take you seriously, and who will not just offer painkillers because they don’t know what else to do.
Have anything to share or ask? I’d love to hear from you! (Please use the comments section)