Fibromyalgia is a serious disorder that causes near intolerable pain in the whole body. It causes pain, tenderness, and fatigue in the muscles. In addition, it can cause sleep, memory, and mood issues.
This complex disorder has also been known to cause severe muscle spasms, but mainly in specific parts of the body.
These include terribly inconvenient locations such as the neck, back, shoulders, arms, hips, and legs.
The pain gets worse when pressure is put on any of the aforementioned locations.
Causes of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a disorder in which nobody knows how it starts. Anyone can develop it, and there are no known steps for prevention.
It appears to be more present in people who were previously diagnosed with forms of arthritis, but it is not limited to those people.
Other things that could cause the body’s pain signals to flare up, include:
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Physical or emotional abuse
- Abnormal blood flow
- Genes (it runs in the family)
- Depression and anxiety
- Surgery or repeated injuries
- Lack of exercise
- Hormone imbalances
- Traumatic events (divorce, the death of a loved one, breakup, etc.)
- Viral or bacterial infections (HIV, Hepatitis C virus, Lyme Disease, etc.)
Due to its unknown define causes, it is practically impossible to tell who the disorder will attack next. Sometimes, a person will have all the symptoms; other times, they will only have a few.
Certain foods can cause fibromyalgia as well and knowing what to avoid is the first step in managing the pain:
As a result, if you have any of the common symptoms of Fibromyalgia, it is important to make an appointment with your doctor to see if Fibromyalgia might be the cause. Even with knowing this, it will be a long journey.
Common Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Since the symptoms of Fibromyalgia are so general with the target pains, muscle fatigue, and sleep issues, it can be hard to label it as what it is. With such, it is more often than not either misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed.
1. Pain and Tender Points
The vast majority of people suffering from Fibromyalgia have reported pains throughout the body. The pain will be similar to tendinitis, except all over the musculoskeletal system.
It can vary from a dull ache to a sharp, stabbing pain but it will almost definitely be present in a person with the disorder. The pain could always be there, or it could be fleeting, but it will be a pain that comes back with frequency.
Pain is the biggest sign that Fibromyalgia could be a possibility, due to its distinctive trait of the muscle pain being all over the entire body, and for that same pain being almost arthritic in nature.
This means that the pain gets progressively worse as pressure is put on the limb or appendage.
It is usually worse in specific areas, and it is these trigger points that doctors will look for when diagnosing the disorder.
Another ever-present symptom of Fibromyalgia is fatigue. The sufferer will feel constantly drained, both mentally and physically, and will lack the ambition to force themselves to get up and do anything, even if they could.
Muscles will feel weak, and an aching tiredness will refuse to leave the person alone.
An abnormal amount of sleep will be desired, and more rest than is usually needed will be required. Getting enough sleep is a crucial part of coping with the disorder.
Even on days where the fatigue is less present, it can be easier than normal to over-exert yourself doing regular daily tasks.
3. Sleep Problems
Fatigue is a distinct trait of Fibromyalgia, and excess sleep is needed to help fight it off. However, those diagnosed with Fibromyalgia are prone to sleep difficulties.
Without adequate rest, it is near impossible to ever hope for relief from the disorder. This means that the pain that is causing a person to be unable to sleep cannot get better without rest. [R]
Often times, those suffering who fail to get enough sleep will actually experience more pain than they would with enough rest. This is problematic, because sleep medicine can be addictive, and doctors cannot prescribe it forever.
This means that the patient will have to learn how to sleep on their own in order to get even slight relief from their symptoms.
Sleep deprivation is a common and serious concern among those with Fibromyalgia. [R]
4. Memorization and Concentration Issues
More often than not, the constant onslaught of pain caused by Fibromyalgia will leave a person with a fuzzy brain that will make it hard for them to concentrate.
Coupled with any prescribed medication, patients will often experience short-term memory loss. This will prevent them from remembering things like where they left their pen or who they called last on their cell phone. [R]
This leads to confusion and desperation and is referred to by specialists as “Fibro-fog” with the way in which it is a constant presence in the lives of those with Fibromyalgia. [R]
Another debilitating factor of Fibromyalgia is the headaches a person will get. From slight muscle tension headaches to full-on migraines, the headaches received by a person will surely add to their pain and suffering.
Through them, the cloudy mind will get worse, further hindering memorization and concentration alongside tiring out the body even more.
They can lead to a lack of sleep, which will cause the pain to only get worse. Headaches may also destabilize emotions and make them more difficult to control.
Close to two-thirds of those who have Fibromyalgia will also suffer from some sort of indigestion, often Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
They will be bloated, have gastrointestinal discomforts, and may even feel like they need to throw up. In addition, gas and stomach cramps may also be a problem. [R]
These symptoms, if untreated, can lead to a loss of sleep and thus even more of a tension headache.
Everything in the body is connected, and every Fibromyalgia symptom builds of another, which is what makes even the most insignificant of symptoms.
How to Treat Fibromyalgia Naturally
There is presently no cure for this condition as a whole. The only possibility is to treat the symptoms individually.
1. Watch What You Eat
The things you eat play a large impact on how the disorder develops and how severe the symptoms that persist are.
High or low blood sugar would only make matters worse, especially as your body would have to try to fight off something on top of the preexisting symptoms.
Foods high in caffeine, for example, such as tea or coffee would make it even harder to fall asleep and your symptoms worse. Your mood can also be affected by what you eat.
To keep the mind and mentality as clear and as positive as possible, healthy foods that are low in sugar and high in nutrients are a must.
Gluten elimination has also proved beneficial in improving the symptoms of Fibromyalgia. [R]
2. Reduce Your Caffeine Intake
A cup of tea before bed may seem like the perfect thing to soothe the aches and calm you down before bed; however, the caffeine content says otherwise.
Caffeine can increase pain in the nerves as it lowers the magnesium level. It would be better to stick to hot drinks such as warm milk or herbal teas without caffeine. [R]
3. Take Siberian Ginseng Supplements
Traditionally, Siberian Ginseng was used by physicians to improve a person’s emotional status. It is a way to give the body an energy boost without a need for prescribed stimulant drugs.
It can also help supplement some of the nutrients your body is using up trying to fight the symptoms of the disorder.
In addition to being extremely rich in a variety of nutrients necessary for humans, spirulina can also help protect cells from damage thanks to its powerful antioxidant properties.
Valerian can be taken as a dietary supplement. It can help relieve some of the stress and anxiety problems so often caused by Fibromyalgia. [R]
This herb can also make a difference in those suffering from insomnia problems by aiding in the regulation of sleep patterns.
Easily accessible, valerian has been a popular sleep aid among nutritionists for ages.
While not a cure, massages can certainly help relax the body throughout the day.
It is a well-known treatment for soreness in the joints or muscles, and so it can be a good help for those who have the infamous full-body pain of Fibromyalgia.
Massages can help with relaxation, which would improve sleep quality, which is a required aspect of fighting the symptoms of the disorder.
Pilates can be an alternative treatment that can help a person de-stress and relieve the pressure that is being put on joints. It can also loosen up muscles to help with pains.
Through the use of a heating pad or warm water, increased blood flow and circulation can help relieve some of the pain brought by Fibromyalgia.
It can help with soreness as well as muscle tension, and so it is recommended to soak in the occasional bath rather than a shower if at all possible. [R]
Heat can also help to sooth a person and bring them better sleep in the aftermath. With such, it is a good idea to use a heating pad to help you fall asleep alongside a hot beverage.
The relaxation benefits of heat can make all the difference.
A cold pack, while not as relaxing as a heating pad, can help fight some of the more deep-rooted tensions in the muscles. It can reduce these aches in a way that targets the source.
What to Eat?
Organic Whole Foods
Whole foods will have fewer additives and more fibers than their processed counterparts.
This allows for more nutrients and fewer additives that can be known to actually worsen the symptoms of Fibromyalgia.
Whole foods generally have lower sugar content, keeping blood sugar levels stable and increasing the positive mentality of a person.
Eating foods rich with Vitamin D can help lessen the effect of some symptoms, particularly the muscle tension headaches.
Foods such as white fish or milk and eggs include Vitamin D.
Dark green vegetables, leaves, in particular, can help give the excess amount of magnesium necessary to counter the losses during the pains of Fibromyalgia.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Any inflammation caused by the pains may be able to be reduced by the ingestion of Omega-3 fatty acids.
These can be found predominantly in fish and can be a great stress-reducer both mentally and physically in tightened muscles.
They can also serve to protect cells and relieve the body of any unstable molecules.[R]
The same excitotoxins that can be countered by magnesium can also be helped by ensuring that enough antioxidants are placed in your body.
Excitotoxins also create oxidative stress. This means that antioxidants would serve as one of the best ways to prevent the severity of the Fibromyalgia symptoms. [R]
What to Avoid?
Knowing what to avoid is as important (if not more so) than knowing how to treat Fibromyalgia. As they say, “an ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure.” These are some of the key things to avoid:
Glutamate occurs naturally in the body and some foods. It is when it is added to food products as a flavor enhancer that it becomes a problem as monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Reducing your MSG intake may lessen some of the symptoms of Fibromyalgia, with Irritable Bowel Syndrome being the most reduced. [R]
Processed or Cured Meats
Smoked or cured meats, including anything canned, can be particularly harmful to the body with the symptoms that Fibromyalgia produces.
Anything that says “natural flavor added,” as is the case with many cured meats, may contain electrolytes and minerals that symptoms such as headaches or nausea could react poorly to.
Gelatin has the capacity to activate a glutamate receptor in the body. As previously mentioned, glutamate can worsen indigestion.
The amino acid found in gelatin, aspartate, could also have an effect on the nerve cells included in Fibromyalgia.
The aspartate amino acid found in gelatin would thus serve to make symptoms, and potentially the entire disorder, worse.
The effect of sugar on the body during Fibromyalgia has already been mentioned, but take note that artificial sweeteners are just as bad.
Not only will artificial sweeteners create a sugar addiction that will transcend into the rest of your diet.
While suffering the symptoms of Fibromyalgia, it can be easy to let yourself come apart and succumb to the pain.
The major thing to remember is to drink enough water. It has no negative qualities, and so avoiding dehydration is essential.
Dehydration can lead to even more headaches, difficulties sleeping, and even more problems with symptoms. In turn, that will only make suffering worse so getting enough water is a necessity. [R]
In a nutshell, though it is important to consult a doctor, each of the symptoms of Fibromyalgia can be treated by using natural means, each of which targets specific areas of the body. There is hope.