By Justin Pearce D.C. | Millpond Integrative Health and Wellness Center
Fibromyalgia is one of the most common chronic pain conditions affecting Americans today. The National Fibromyalgia Association estimates that it may affect 10 million people in the U.S., with the vast majority of them being women!
The condition is characterized by widespread muscle pain, tenderness and fatigue. As miserable as that is, those with fibromyalgia may also have trouble sleeping, morning stiffness, painful menstrual periods, tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, chronic headaches, and even problems with thinking and memory. Although the symptoms are very specific (and real) to the person experiencing them, they are rather vague when it comes to medical diagnosis. Many conditions present similarly.
Making diagnosis even more difficult is the tendency of fibromyalgia to occur alongside other conditions such as endometriosis, TMJ and irritable bowel. Further, individuals with certain other conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and spinal arthritis, are more likely to develop fibromyalgia.
At Millpond Integrative Health and Wellness Center, we often see patients who have been visiting doctors for years trying to pinpoint the cause of their pain and suffering without success. They are often miserable, withdrawing from family, friends, work and activities that they love. As a result, many fibromyalgia patients develop depression, anxiety and other emotional issues directly related to their physical pain.
Unfortunately, there is no single lab test that can be performed or scan that can be done to definitively diagnose fibromyalgia. A physician may order laboratory testing or scans to rule out other conditions, but there are no lab values or blood markers that scream “fibromyalgia.” Therefore, fibromyalgia is usually diagnosed if a person has widespread pain for a period of three months or longer and has at least 11 of 18 tender points upon examination.
No one knows for sure what causes fibromyalgia; there may be multiple routes to developing the disorder. Recent research suggests traumatic events – such as being in a car crash – may precipitate the condition. Fibromyalgia has also been linked to overexertion, neck injury, surgery and childbirth. Twenty percent of study participants had suffered an infection such as pneumonia, flu or Epstein-Barr, prior to developing fibromyalgia.
Other factors that may increase your risk of developing fibromyalgia include family history and being overweight.
If no one knows what causes it… can it be treated?
While there is no medical cure for fibromyalgia, it can be treated. One of the keys is looking for the root cause – the trigger that drove the nervous system into overdrive. Once we address the trigger, improvement is possible. As an integrative doctor, I see patients liberated from the pain of fibromyalgia all the time!
At Millpond, we work closely with each patient to listen and understand their symptoms, to test and dig till we get to the root cause. Then we design a
course of action that will result in the best possible results and assist our patients all along the way to recovery.
If you’re out of options when it comes to managing fibromyalgia, consider visiting us at Millpond Integrative and Health Center. We offer a free consultation and will work diligently to find what’s causing your pain and discomfort. We exist to improve your quality of life.
Justin Pearce, D.C., is a chiropractic physician associated with Millpond Integrative Health and Wellness Center, 2650 Boston Road, Suite 188, Lexington, Ky. New patients are welcome. Please call (859) 695-6146 to schedule your appointment.