Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fribromyalgia Syndrome (FMS)

Wendy Huang, MD

About 2 % of US adult population suffer from this debilitating condition. When I started my holistic practice, I noted this used to be the condition I had problem treating until I found the hormone link between Fibromyalgia and Chronic fatigue Syndrome.

Fibromyalgia and Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) share many common features like fatigue, sleep problem, mood disorder, but fibromyalgia has the distinct feature of chronic pain. The pain usually is bilateral, chronic (at least 3 months without other known causes), involving both generalized areas and tender points (at least 11 of the 18 points). The pain is so intense,when tender points were touched, that deep massage becomes a torture for these patients.

Fibromyalgia and Chronic fatigue syndrome also share the most important pathology which is adrenal dysfunction. Adrenal glands secrete Cortisol which helps body handle stress including inflammation. Cortisol levels are supposed to go up with both condition, but they usually decrease after a long time and some people call it adrenal fatigue (please also read the previous newsletter on this topic).

People suffering from any chronic pain often deplete their adrenal gland , and this is a must addressed issue as well as their mental condition like anxiety and depression. Their brain was conditioned to feel the pain all the time, and it takes a lot of effort to change that pathway.

Once I address the adrenal condition, I have much more success treating this difficult ailment. The rehab of adrenal gland usually takes herbal, relaxation skill, mindset changes,nutritional optimization, etc. And most importantly, patients got to be able to have a good night sleep (whatever it takes, we have to make sure of this), and need to stop anxiety and depression from draining their adrenal glands. Acupuncture is very effective to achieve those two goals and also to deactivate the tender points.

Exercise other than gentle walking may be too much for those patients. Many also suffered from low sodium due to low Aldosterone (another adrenal hormone). Drinking warm water with some sea salt first thing in the morning and throughout the day as needed would make them feel better. Patients also need a large amount of vitamin B complex to carry them through the day.

Other hormonal imbalance (thyroid is a common one) and underline chronic infection like E-B virus (Infectious mononucleosis) would also need to be taken care of to get patients completely better. Treating pain symptom of FMS without removing the underline cause will not heal the condition. It is still a long quest to overcome FMS, but we have seen more and more success with these integrated approach.

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