Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a rheumatic disorder characterised by chronic, achy muscle with no apparent physical cause. It most commonly affects the lower back, neck, shoulders, back of the head, upper chest and thighs, although any body area may be involved. We may describe the pain as burning, throbbing, shooting or stabbing and is often more significant in the morning than at other times.
Chronic headaches, strange sensations in the skin, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, and temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ) may also accompany FMS. FMS sufferers’ other symptoms include premenstrual tension, irritable bladder, skin sensitivities, dry eyes and mouth, a need for frequent changes in eyeglass prescription, dizziness, and impaired coordination. Activities such as lifting and climbing stairs are often challenging and painful.
Besides, depression often accompanies this disorder. Moreover, stress may trigger problems similar to those associated with cardiovascular disease and adrenal gland disorders. Because the immune system is typically suffering from this disorder, opportunistic viral and bacterial infections are common.
FMS’s most distinctive feature, one that differentiates it from similar conditions, is the existence of certain tender spots – eighteen specific spots where the muscles are abnormally sore to the touch. These points tend to cluster around the neck, shoulders, chest, knees, elbows region, and hips and include the following:
That is to say, there are over five million people known to be suffering from FMS in the United States. However, the number of cases is probably much higher as medics often misdiagnose this condition. FMS manifests itself similarly to chronic fatigue syndrome, chemical sensitivities, and rheumatoid arthritis. As a result, it usually takes a long time to make a proper diagnosis.
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Most FMS people also have sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, bruxism (grinding teeth), sleep myoclonus (a sudden rapid contraction of muscle, or a group of muscles, during sleep or as one is falling asleep). Surprisingly, people with FMS often suffer from chronic fatigue ranging from mild to disabling. Other disorders common to sufferers of FMS include:
FMS is much more common in females than males and often begins in young adulthood. In most cases, symptoms come on gradually and slowly increase in intensity. Besides, many factors can trigger (or make worse) them. Those, in turn, include overexertion, stress, lack of exercise, anxiety, depression, lack of sleep, grief, trauma, extremes of temperature and humidity, and infectious illness.
In most cases, symptoms are severe enough to interfere with regular daily activities. Moreover, the condition disables a significant number of people with fibromyalgia syndrome. Some cases clear up on their own. Others become chronic. Some go through cycles of flare-ups alternating with periods of apparent remission. In other words, we don’t know the cause or causes of FMS. Furthermore, there are no tests that can diagnose it with complete certainty.
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Some evidence points to a problem with the immune system; specific immunological abnormalities are common among FMS people. Other possible causes include infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (glandular fever), Candida albicans, chronic mercury poisoning from amalgam fillings, anaemia, and parasites. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) also count. Some experts believe that FMS may be related to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which causes similar symptoms, except that muscle pain predominates over FMS fatigue. In contrast, with CFS, fatigue predominates over pain. It has happened that even medical professionals misdiagnosed FMS as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis. Because malabsorption problems are common in people with FMS, higher than regular doses of all supplemental nutrients are needed.
Eat a well-balanced diet of 50% raw foods and fresh ‘live-juices. The diet should consist mainly of vegetables, fruits, whole grains (primarily millet and brown rice), raw nuts and seeds, soy products, skinless turkey or chicken, and oily fish. Besides, these quality foods supply nutrients that renew energy and build immunity.
Include pomegranates and pomegranate juice in your diet. However, some commercial makes have high sugar! To clarify, they have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Moreover, eat four or five small meals daily to keep a steady supply of protein and carbohydrates available for proper muscle function. If the body does not have enough fuel for energy, it will rob the essential nutrients from muscles, causing muscle wasting and pain.
Also, drink plenty of liquids to help flush out toxins. The best choices are bottled or filtered water as well as herbal teas. Besides, fresh vegetable juices supply the necessary vitamins and minerals.
Furthermore, limit consumption of green peppers, aubergines, tomatoes and white potatoes (sweet potatoes are acceptable). These foods contain “solanine”, which interferes with the muscles’ enzymes and may cause pain and discomfort.
Do not eat red meat, dairy products, or other foods high in saturated fats. Saturated fats raise cholesterol levels, interfere with circulation, promote inflammation, and increase pain. Also, avoid fried foods, processed foods, shellfish, dairy foods, and white flour products such as bread and pasta.
Do not consume any caffeine, alcohol, or sugar. Eating sugar, in any form, promotes fatigue, increases pain, and disturbs sleep. If these substances have been a regular part of the diet, symptoms may worsen for a short period due to the “withdrawal” effect.
Maintain a programme of moderate exercise. A daily walk followed by some gentle stretching is pleasant. Start slowly and be careful not to overdo it, as this can aggravate symptoms. Remember that daily exercise is needed, not a strenuous workout two or three times a week. Once regular exercise becomes habitual, the symptoms are likely to improve; moderate exercise and stretching help keep muscles flexible and prevent joints from stiffening up.
Be sure to give the body sufficient rest. Set aside at least eight hours for sleep each night.
Take a hot shower or bath on rising to stimulate circulation and relieve morning stiffness, or alternate between hot water and cold water. Recent studies have shown cold showers to be beneficial for relieving fibromyalgia pain. For instance, warm baths help relax the muscles.
Consider trying massage therapy, which can help to relax muscles and reduce joint stiffness.