It is estimated that more than five million people in the U.S. have fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia can cause severe pain, fatigue, brain fog, and cognitive impairment, which can interfere with a person’s ability to carry on normal daily activities. Fibromyalgia is also considered a rheumatic condition – a medical condition that can impair a person’s joints and/or soft tissues, resulting in chronic pain.
Many patients are unaware that they can functionally treat fibromyalgia without going down the conventional medicine path, which only focuses on managing symptoms. By taking a functional medicine approach to fibromyalgia, your doctor will help you identify the root cause that is causing you to experience symptoms associated with fibromyalgia.
I will explain how this process typically works for most patients below. But first, let’s take a reader’s digest approach to understand better how fibromyalgia got its start and the common causes of this chronic disorder.
The word “fibromyalgia” comes from the Greek myos meaning “muscle,” Greek algos meaning “pain,” and New Latin fibro meaning “fibrous tissue.” It wasn’t until 1981 that the first scientific study formally confirmed symptoms of fibromyalgia and tender points in the body. Since this time, researchers have further tested pain reactions in people with fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia often takes time to develop, and there isn’t a specific lab test to diagnose a patient as having the disorder – meaning your doctor can’t look at an x-ray or do a blood test to confirm you have fibromyalgia. Doctors instead rely on good old fashion symptoms you are experiencing and will perform a physical exam to help confirm his or her diagnosis.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia can overlap with symptoms of several other conditions you may be experiencing. These overlapping/co-existing conditions are often referred to as “comorbidities,” and can be any of the following symptoms below:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Temporomandibular disorder (TMD)
- Interstitial cystitis
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Tension and migraine headaches
- Restless leg syndrome
- Sensitivities to multiple chemicals
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
There are several root causes of fibromyalgia. Below are a few of the more common causes I come across:
The gluten epidemic is skyrocketing and is linked to many diseases, including celiac disease – an autoimmune disease that attacks the small intestine. Additionally, many people can experience wheat allergies, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS).
Symptoms of a wheat allergy can range from mild to life-threatening, and to determine if you do have a gluten intolerance, you can ask your doctor to order tests, such as antigliadin antibodies (IgA).
If you are intolerant to gluten, then you will need to shed yourself from gluten entirely. The Celiac Disease Foundation provides an excellent breakdown of all the sources of gluten to eliminate from your diet.
A good documentary to watch is What’s With Wheat, which dives deeper into what gluten is, why there is a gluten epidemic, and where gluten can be found. Currently, you can watch the documentary on Netflix.
Leaky Gut and Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
Much like when dealing with any chronic illness from a functional medicine approach, fibromyalgia in many cases must be addressed by “fixing the gut.”
Leaky gut and SIBO happens when the bacteria in your body becomes out of balance, typically as a result of a heavy sugar diet or the use/overuse of antibiotics. When this happens, our bodies fail to absorb vital nutrients, such as B-12. Gluten can also cause leaky gut and SIBO.
A few of the most common vitamin deficiencies in patients who have fibromyalgia are B-12, magnesium, and vitamin D. The best way to measure your nutritional levels is to have your functional medicine doctor perform tests to help identify what vitamins you may be deficient in. Genetic testing is an example of one test that can be conducted to help understand your metabolism and dietary traits and enhance the nutritional balance of your diet.
Many people do not know they have an underactive thyroid gland. You can have your doctor check several different blood markers to measure the function of your thyroid glands. When your functional doctor helps you to get your thyroid into an optimal range, many times patients can see their depression, fatigue, brain fog, and sleep disturbances dissipate.
Other root causes of fibromyalgia also include: hormonal imbalance; undiagnosed Lyme disease; non-restorative sleep disorder; sleep apnea; and underlying injuries not properly treated.
The Answer to the Million Dollar Question – How Can You Overcome Fibromyalgia Non-Conventionally?
Under the care of a reputable functional medicine doctor, he or she will help you to identify the root cause(s) of your fibromyalgia. Then, he or she will develop a game plan – tailor made specific to you – to help you restore your body back to optimal health, without the use/overuse of OTC medications, which can cause long-term health issues.
By focusing on your digestive system, food sensitives, and performing a liver detox, you can naturally overcome the symptoms and chronic pain you are experiencing as a result of fibromyalgia.
In addition, you will begin to experience many other noticeable differences within your body, such as more energy, and greater clarity and focus, which will help you be more productive in your everyday life. And the best part is that you will know what is causing you to experience your fibromyalgia symptoms, as opposed to managing the disease for the rest of your life!
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, or any other form of chronic illness, then contact us here at Osteopathic Center for Wellness. Each of our patients receives the quality treatment their bodies deserve. And it is our mission to help restore our patients back to optimal health, without the need to be dependent on medications prescribed by conventional doctors, which can take patients down a path of more long-term health issues.
Meet Dr. Neil Spiegel
For over 20 years in osteopathic medicine, Dr. Spiegel has applied traditional and alternative methods to diagnose and treat his patients. He has a special interest in caring for patients with acute and chronic musculoskeletal and neurologic pain syndromes. Dr. Spiegel has received numerous professional and volunteerism honors including Top Doctor Survey Awards and the State of Maryland Volunteer Service Award. He also serves on the Board of Directors of a free clinic serving the uninsured in Montgomery County, Maryland.