Fibromyalgia - what a pain...
Fibromyalgia is a painful condition featuring widespread pain throughout the body. Research suggests that pain is due to abnormal pain processing in the central nervous system (CNS). This pain can also result in fatigue, sleep disturbances, and mood disorders such as depression or anxiety. In Canada, fibromyalgia affects approximately 2% of the adult population. Unfortunately, there is no one test to diagnose fibromyalgia therefore your doctor may want to do imaging or bloodwork to rule out other conditions.
- Age: while fibromyalgia can be diagnosed at any age, it is most likely to be diagnosed in middle age
- Autoimmune conditions: fibromyalgia itself is not an autoimmune disease, however people with conditions such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or ankylosing spondylitis are more likely to develop fibromyalgia
- Gender: women are twice as likely as men to develop fibromyalgia
- Trauma: there is some correlation between traumatic events (such as a car accident, PTSD) and fibromyalgia
- Family history: those with a family history of fibromyalgia have an increased risk of developing the disease themselves
Signs and Symptoms
- Pain and stiffness all over the body (may change day to day, hour to hour)
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Depression & anxiety
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty with thinking, memory, and concentration
- Headaches (may include migraines)
- Tingling/numbness in the hands &/or feet
- Pain in the face/jaw including temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction
- Digestive difficulties which may include abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, or even irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Naturopathic Treatment for Fibromyalgia
Naturopathic medicine is uniquely positioned to treat fibromyalgia as we have many tools in our toolkit. Typically I like to look at it from five perspectives:
- Sleep: improving sleep quality in patients with fibromyalgia can often improve their pain scores, and quality of life
- Exercise: many patients with fibromyalgia find some light to moderate exercise improves their pain
- Environment: your naturopathic doctor can help find triggers in your environment that may be increasing your pain
- Diet: many individuals with fibromyalgia have sensitivities to food. Your naturopathic doctor can help you identify these and eliminate them from your diet.
- Support: as fibromyalgia is an 'invisible' disease, your naturopathic doctor can provide resources to support you through your fibromyalgia journey.
Think you might have fibromyalgia? Book an appointment today to learn more!
This post is intended for educational purposes only and should not be substituted for medical advice.