From Bedford Magazine

By Dr. Mark Bodnar, B.Sc., D.C.

Do you ever wake up in the morning feeling more fatigued than when you went to bed?  Do you feel like your whole body aching?  If so, you may be experiencing a little understood disorder called Fibromyalgia.

What is Fibromyalgia?

The word fibromyalgia means - pain originating from the muscle and fibrous (tendons) tissues.  Patients with fibromyalgia typically experience wide spread pain (both sides of the body), daily fatigue, morning stiffness, sleep disturbances and many other associated symptoms.

Fibromyalgia was originally thought to be either an inflammatory arthritic condition or a psychiatric illness, however, no evidence of inflammation or arthritis has been found capable of explaining the widespread pain. The depression frequently associated with fibromyalgia is more likely a result of the chronic pain rather than a cause. Fibromyalgia has also been observed to run in families, suggesting a possible inherited predisposition.

Due to the wide variety of symptoms and complaints related to fibromyalgia some individuals may feel that it is just an 'excuse' for hypochondriacs or whiners. The recent surge of chronic pain complaints including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and myofascial pain syndrome have led to a wealth of new research investigating causes and solutions for these disorders. With new information, fibromyalgia can be defined as a true physical disorder with some very specific diagnostic criteria and characteristics related to this condition.  A specific diagnosis can be made by finding pain with palpation in 11 out of 18 specific tender points on the body and by testing for abnormal brain wave forms that interrupt deep sleep.

What causes Fibromyalgia?

Many patients with fibromyalgia have been found to have abnormal brain waves in the delta phase of sleep (deep restorative phase).  One theory suggests that interrupting this deep restorative phase of sleep interferes with the body's ability to properly heal and recover from normal day to day strains and stresses thereby resulting in aching and sore muscles.  Another theory blames the low levels of growth hormones found in patients with fibromyalgia. Growth hormone, helpful in maintaining and healing muscle and soft tissue, is usually produced during deep sleep.  Evidence supporting fibromyalgia as a result of deep sleep disturbance comes from scientists ability to reproduce fibromyalgia like symptoms in normal volunteers, just by depriving them of deep sleep for a few days.

Personal experience, in my office, leads me to believe fibromyalgia likely results from a combination of different causative factors.  Often, prior to the onset of fibromyalgia, the individual is very busy. Never enough time to sit still, pushing their body to it's limits until the body finally gives up. For someone prone to fibromyalgia, they may trigger the syndrome with severe injury, stress overload or prolonged sleep disturbance, the proverbial "straw that breaks the camel's back".  After which, due to ongoing sleep disturbance and reduced healing capacity the body is unable to recover from accumulated stress and strains.

How is Fibromyalgia treated?

Successful treatment requires active involvement by the patient and a long term plan to resolve the condition.

-Daily enjoyable, gentle aerobic exercise combined with stretching is a must.  Not only will exercise encourage the body to build muscle and produce more growth hormone but it will also result in increased fatigue and a possible deeper sleep.

-A variety of medications are available, each aimed primarily at improving deep sleep and reducing muscular pain.  Since everyone responds differently to medication, the fibromyalgic patient frequently needs to try several different medications and combinations for maximum benefit.

-Dietary supplements of Magnesium, malic acid, manganese and thiamin may help stimulate the bodies metabolism and reduce tenderness.

-Many individuals with fibromyalgia also find it helpful to maintain regular sleeping hours to remove any possible disturbance to the deep sleep cycle.

-Avoid excess physical and emotional stress.  Pushing too hard and trying to clean an entire house or yard in one day may result in a several days of pain.  Physically, it is better to break the task up into smaller segments, completing each one separately.

What else can I do?

While Chiropractic care will not "cure" fibromyalgia, proper treatment, focused on reducing muscle and joint pain so an individual can increase activity levels may speed recovery.  Many patients find Chiropractic care helpful by accelerating recovery from the occasional flare-ups and activity related soreness.

Bedford Chiropractic, based in Bedford, Nova Scotia, offers full-service consultations, diagnosis and treatment plans for a variety of workplace, repetitive and other injuries. We treat pain to the head, neck, jaw, arm, shoulders, upper body, chest, lower back, legs and feet.  Contact us today at 902 835-6865. We serve patients in the Halifax Regional Municipality, including Halifax, Dartmouth, Bedford, Sackville and surrounding areas.