A Path to Recovery for Fibromyalgia Sufferers
Oct 05, 2012 11:00AM
● By Dr. Ray Benedetto
Scientists estimate that fibromyalgia (FM) affects an estimated 5 million Americans 18 or older, and 75 to 90 percent of those are women. Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Many people who have fibromyalgia also have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression. For those with severe symptoms, FM can be extremely debilitating and interfere with basic daily activities. However, when properly diagnosed and treated properly, FM can resolve or at least be controlled.
Fibromyalgia is often diagnosed only after all other conditions have been eliminated by using various testing approaches, such as blood tests, x-rays and/or CT or MRI scans.
Recent literature suggests fibromyalgia is a disorder of central pain processing, or a specific situation where the pain threshold in the brain is reached sooner than what is normal. Genetic and environmental factors also contribute to the origin and progression of the condition. Environmental factors are most often the trigger for fibromyalgia symptoms when a genetic predisposition is present. Some of these include physical or emotional trauma, chronic infections, thyroid disorders, blood sugar problems and digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Psychological stress and hormonal alterations can also play a role.
What are the treatment options for FM? Typically, if one goes to a medical doctor, he or she can expect various forms of drug therapy, but these have not proven to be terribly effective and side effects and dependency can sometimes be an issue.
When the medications don’t work, other options are available. Since the root cause of FM has neurological and metabolic components, patients can be treated both neurologically and metabolically. Once a thorough functional neurological evaluation is completed to determine what might be causing muscular problems or leading to the patients’ pain processing difficulties, the patient is prescribed a specific plan of neurological or brain rehab to strengthen the weak areas of the brain. Treatments are different for every patient and are based on an individuals specific presentation and exam findings.
Patients are tested metabolically to find which, if any, environmental factors may be contributing to their fibromyalgia, including food sensitivities, adrenal gland problems, gastrointestinal disorders, blood sugar abnormalities and chronic infections. These tests are specialized and not run by most doctors, which is why fibromyalgia sufferers can go years before proper diagnosis. Once an accurate assessment is made as to what is causing the problem, it can be addressed and managed with specific nutritional and lifestyle changes—without drugs.
Dr. Ray Benedetto is the owner of Bethlehem Fibromyalgia Relief, which offers brain-based metabolic treatment for fibromyalgia. For more information, or to schedule a consultation, call 610-974-9911 or visit BethlehemFirbroRelief.com.