What is Fibromyalgia?
The “common wisdom” of the medical world so far is to think of Fibromyalgia as a problem with how the brain perceives pain, specifically, that it is too sensitive. Studies that show differences in energy production in the actual muscle tissues have been ignored and other studies that were not done rigorously have been used to support the idea that there is “nothing wrong” with the actual muscles. There is no explanation by the medical establishment as to why there are so many other body systems affected such as sleep, brain and cognition, depression, anxiety, gut and bladder and pelvic problems, although it is acknowledged that these other problems tend to co-exist with a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.
Surely it would make sense to explore a unifying theory that might explain why ALL of these things are interrelated.
The fact is that there are a LOT of symptoms you can get from Fibromyalgia because most of the cells in your body are actually having difficulty making enough energy. No wonder patients feel so tired they could cry! Running on empty is not easy when there just isn’t any gas in the tank. When viewed from this perspective, the multiple symptoms make sense. And the fact that Fibromyalgia patients push through the fatigue and the pain and try to function normally for as long as they do is truly remarkable and they should be respected for their fortitude and resilience! The problem for most of us is that we just never know when to actually complain because we have so long ago forgotten what normal is as we have so gradually become tired and in pain and all the rest. We just accept that life is hard. But life should not be so hard!
Your muscles need energy to contract, but they also need energy to relax again. When energy is hard to come by, parts of muscles remain stuck in contraction, using up energy, working all the time and creating pain and areas of hardness and tenderness in the muscles. This is why Fibromyalgia patients have a lot of pain in arms and legs and neck and back and, well, just about everywhere. It can even hurt just to receive a hug!
Injuries tend not to heal as easily when there is not enough energy available. This is why some people will attribute their shoulder pain or back pain to an injury or an accident and everything seems to go downhill from there but the doctors wonder why they never get better in the expected way. This helps to lead to attitudes of “psychosomatic” problems among healthcare providers because they can’t otherwise make sense of the whole picture.
When your brain doesn’t have enough energy, it just doesn’t work as well. The part of your brain that uses the most energy is the frontal lobes, which help you to focus, remember things, make decisions and control your emotions. No surprise that when this isn’t working up to speed you experience lack of concentration, poorer memory, and symptoms like anxiety and depression.
Your gut can get into trouble without enough energy to work all the cells that have to absorb and digest your food. Recurrent and alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation, gas, bloating, cramping, are common in Fibromyalgia patients, who are often given a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome.
Your uterus is a big muscle. Fibromyalgia patients frequently have sustained contractions and bad cramping with menstruation. Many Fibromyalgia patients also suffer from chronic pelvic pain syndromes.
Your bladder is also a muscle, although not the same kind of muscle as in your arms and legs. Nonetheless, bladder spasms and irritable bladder symptoms are common and many Fibromyalgia patients are given a diagnosis of interstitial cystitis.
What Can Be Done About This Terrible Illness?
Exercise is the only thing that has shown some benefit in managing the symptoms of Fibromyalgia. This works by reminding the energy factories inside your cells, called mitochondria, that they are still needed. By regularly doing some level of gentle exercise we can keep our mitochondrial populations up and be able to maintain the ability to make energy as much as possible. However, once a patient has passed a certain point, it becomes a vicious cycle of being too tired to exercise or just feeling too much worse if you do exercise.
Medications have been approved by the FDA for indications of symptoms of Fibromyalgia, mainly for the pain symptoms. Most of these medications are aimed at reducing your brain’s ability to sense the pain perceptions and some simply help you to sleep more deeply. They often have side effects that can worsen fatigue and morning tiredness and have not been shown in studies to help fatigue or sleep, just somewhat for pain.
a book by Dr. St. Amand and Claudia Marek
This book explains everything, and it will give you the information you need to begin the Guaifenesin Protocol yourself. However, many patients prefer to have the objective body mapping donean expert help them to monitor their progress, and to have help making decisions about how to proceed with the protocol. Repeating the physical exam that maps the muscle swellings and watches them shrink over time also helps you to know that the protocol is working. This is why many patients prefer to see a physician who understands the illness and the protocol. I can help you get started in the most efficient way, avoid blocking the effects of the Guaifenesin, help you find a good source of long-acting Guaifenesin, and monitor your progress over time.
Dr. St. Amand’s website has a lot of information and resources:
Other diseases seem to be more common in patients with Fibromyalgia. One of these is hypermobility, which can also cause joint pains and fatigue. Another doctor turned her skills toward helping others with the same problem.
Mast cell activation disorders also seem to be more common in Fibromyalgia and Hypermobility patients. Hear Dr. Bluestein talk about this here:
Dr. MacDonald can diagnose and treat you for Fibromyalgia. If you're experiencing fatigue, muscle pain, headaches, sleep problems, dysmenorrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and/or brain fog, call her today!