What many people identify as an all-around low-energy feeling accompanied by body aches, headaches and stiffness may, in fact, be a treatable condition called fibromyalgia. If you feel as though you may be suffering from fibromyalgia, you’re not alone: experts have concluded that up to 5% of the population, including children, are affected by fibromyalgia. And although there are all sorts of medical and surgical approaches to treating this condition, there are equally effective all-natural, homeopathic remedies that are neither invasive nor expensive.
Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes pain in the muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons; defined as chronic musculoskeletal pain accompanied by intense fatigue, headaches, flu-like symptoms, sleep disturbances, morning stiffness, bowel irritation and/or numbness and tingling in the extremities, fibromyalgia is associated with pain that tends to occur in one or many of 18 specific "tender points" - areas such as the front of the knees, the elbows, the hip joints and around the neck. Fibromyalgia is generally diagnosed when at least 11 of these 18 specific tender points are painful if pressed. (Because symptoms vary widely from person to person, some people with fibromyalgia may have fewer painful tender points.)
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the disorder might be hereditary - so individuals suffering from fibromyalgia may very well have family members with similar symptoms. And according to the Mayo Clinic, approximately 80 - 90% of affected people are women - with women in their mid-30s to late 50s the hardest hit. Also at high risk are men and women age 70 or older; people who also have an autoimmune disorder; and those who have recently been the victim of an infectious disease.
Fibromyalgia sometimes occurs with other muscle or joint diseases or chronic pain conditions. This can make fibromyalgia difficult to diagnose.
The primary symptom of fibromyalgia is often an increased sensitivity to pain - but that’s not the only indicator. While “symptoms may come and go,” the AAFP warns that individuals suffering from fibromyalgia “may have some degree of constant pain, but the pain may get worse vary in response to activity, stress, weather changes and other factors. You may have a deep ache or a burning pain. You may have muscle tightening or spasms. Many people have migratory pain (pain that moves around the body).” Furthermore, says the AAFP, “most people with fibromyalgia feel tired or fatigued...This fatigue may be mild or very severe. You may also have trouble sleeping, which may add to the fatigue. You may have feelings of numbness or tingling in parts of your body, or a feeling of poor blood flow in some areas. Many people are very sensitive to odors, bright lights, loud noises and even medicines. Headaches and jaw pain are also common. In addition, you may have dry eyes or difficulty focusing on nearby objects. Problems with dizziness and balance may also occur. Some people have chest pain, a rapid or irregular heartbeat, or shortness of breath. Digestive symptoms are also common in fibromyalgia and include difficulty swallowing, heartburn, gas, cramping abdominal pain, and alternating diarrhea and constipation. Some people have urinary complaints, including frequent urination, a strong urge to urinate and pain in the bladder area. Women with fibromyalgia often have pelvic symptoms, including pelvic pain, painful menstrual periods and painful sexual intercourse.”
The Mayo Clinic, noting that people often turn to doctors because they “hurt all over” and frequently feel exhausted - but even after a number of tests, their doctors can't seem to find anything specifically wrong with them - suggests that if this sounds familiar, the condition (previously known by other names such as fibrositis, chronic muscle pain syndrome, psychogenic rheumatism and tension myalgias) may very well be fibromyalgia.
In 1990, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) identified specific criteria for fibromyalgia. The ACR classifies a patient with fibromyalgia if there is widespread pain lasting at least 3 months in addition to the fact that at least 11 of 18 specific areas of the body are painful under pressure. To be considered "widespread," the pain must be both above and below the waist and on both sides of the body.
Making things complicated is the fact that fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to many other disorders and diseases. There are no lab tests to diagnose fibromyalgia. Often, fibromyalgia is diagnosed if and when other conditions have been ruled out.
Important to note, however, is the fact that fibromyalgia is not a psychological condition, although it has some psychological components, and is not merely “psychosomatic.” As with many conditions that cause chronic pain, and are common in people with fibromyalgia and may make symptoms worse.
What many people don’t realize is that the constant pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia - and the ensuing sense of frustration - can also lead to a constant case of “the blues” or even severe depression and/or anxiety. Currently under investigation, as well, is the possibility that “the same chemical imbalances in the brain that cause fibromyalgia also cause depression and anxiety,” notes the AAFP.
And while fibromyalgia doesn’t cause any permanent damage, the symptoms it causes can be very uncomfortable. The condition isn’t life-threatening, but it’s chronic and difficult to live with.
Getting Help With Fibromyalgia
While there is no specific cure for fibromyalgia, symptoms of this syndrome can be treated, and homeopathic remedies can be remarkably effective. If you have fibromyalgia, taking an active role in your treatment is very important to managing your condition.
There are many conventional medications on the market that treat the pain and difficulty sleeping associated with fibromyalgia. Like all conventional medication, however, their effectiveness is limited and they can be accompanied by unpleasant side-effects, including dry eyes and mouth, constipation, increased appetite, and nightmares. They can also take about six to eight weeks to bring relief.
Low-impact aerobic exercise has also been found to be extremely effective in relieving the symptoms of fibromyalgia, however. Swimming and other forms of water exercise, stationary bicycling and exercising on ski-type machines for 5 minutes every other day is a judicious starting point; the eventual goal should be a minimum of 30 - 60 minutes a few times each week.
When an individual suffering from fibromyalgia has reached this point, s/he might want to consider switching to high-impact exercises like walking, jogging and tennis.
In addition, according to the Arthritis Foundation, research has determined that meditation can help relieve both many arthritis symptoms such as pain, anxiety, stress and depression, and ease the fatigue and insomnia associated with fibromyalgia as well. Meditation, it turns out, can have a very positive impact on many of the body processes connected with wellbeing and relaxation. Recent studies, in fact, suggest that meditation can also balance the immune system, thereby helping the body resist disease, and relieve a variety of conditions - including fibromyalgia - and even help the body heal itself of more dangerous conditions.
Because the symptoms of fibromyalgia are made worse by stress and poor sleep, it is important to cut stress out of your life whenever possible and to get as much sleep as you need. Since alcohol and caffeine cause poor sleep, avoid these substances around bedtime. There are, parenthetically, a number of all-natural, homeopathic remedies that make it easier to relax, fall asleep, and stay asleep for a full night of rest.
Simple lifestyle changes can also be helpful in alleviating the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. Keeping one’s activity level the same each day, for example, can be very effective: many people suffering from fibromyalgia try to compensate for relatively unproductive “off” days by doing as much as possible on "good" days; ironically, this can send them right into a long series of "bad" days. Keeping the activity level even, in contrast, can help individuals suffering from fibromyalgia from experiencing the boomerang of "bad" days.
Currently, fibromyalgia can be neither prevented nor cured. However, prompt treatment of your symptoms may help reduce the length of the flare-up. And while fibromyalgia may be a chronic disease, there is much you can do to relieve and control your symptoms.
The best results in treating fibromyalgia occur when you take an active, committed role in your own treatment - when you decide, in other words, to get Healthy. You may need to adjust your lifestyle to fit home treatment into your daily routine. It may take time to find an approach that works for you. Consider effective, all-natural, homeopathic treatments first. Try to be patient. And keep in mind that consistent treatment - either on your own with HomeoCare Fibromyalgia Relief or in tandem with a competent homeopath and an alternative or conventional healer - can usually help relieve or control symptoms of fibromyalgia.