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Our topic this month focuses on Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS). Several of the Sandpoint Wellness Council members treat clients complaining of this condition who have been searching for years for ways to alleviate the very painful and confusing symptoms FMS presents. Oftentimes, patients receive feedback from health care providers that what they are experiencing is “all in their heads” or that they are “hypochondriacs” due to no findings of specific clues leading to their discomfort, or they have experienced a series of diagnoses and treatments that have not proven beneficial for them over time.

Fibromyalgia Syndrome presents as chronic, muscular and joint pain that causes widespread body achiness with tenderness at various points on the body. This achiness tends to move around and therefore becomes hard to pinpoint sometimes reflecting a burning sensation and/or a tingling sensation. They may also complain of loss of sleep, low energy, stiffness following rest times, or a lack of feeling rested after a night’s sleep. It is often greatly debilitating. Mostly FMS causes a general all over body ache and constant pain and discomfort—a condition that affects one’s overall well being and ability to function fully.

In researching my resources (listed below) FMS symptoms often overlap other disorders such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Hypothyroidism (low thyroid function), Sleep Disorder, and/or TMJ dysfunction (if pain first shows up in the jaw area). This is why FMS is so hard to pin down for the medical community.

The most important therapeutic direction focuses on the management of FMS and on learning all one can about what is being experienced—paying attention to body signals, timing, and when it is weak or strong.

Joseph Pizzorno, Ph.D and Michael Murray in their Textbook of Natural Medicine, pages 1672-3, discuss the findings of several research hypotheses, one centered on low serotonin levels on sleep deprived individuals that can lead to a heightened sense of pain. The research findings did not really pan out for them on this point as serotonin is a vasoconstrictor and would therefore restrict blood flow. They found a more important approach focused on hypothyroidism, whereby there exists a “particular cellular resistance to thyroid hormone or other metabolism-impeding factors.” These factors are such things as poor diet, “nutritional deficiencies, low physical fitness, and metabolism-impeding drugs.” The authors go on to report that “cellular resistance to thyroid hormone is the underlying mechanism of two main features of FMS: chronic widespread pain and abnormal tenderness.” This condition, inadequate thyroid hormone regulation (ITHR) causes impairment to two mechanisms in the body. In the first mechanism ITHR tends to increase the release of Substance P which affects the body by increasing the sensations of pain. Thyroid treatment oftentimes proves effective in lowering Substance P and therefore reduces pain in FMS patients. The second mechanism is the reduction of the synthesis and secretion of norepinephrine (NE). “Adequate NE is essential to normal function” of neurotransmission from the central nervous system mechanisms and is dependent also on the secretion of serotonin, which in turn stimulates the release of opiates, which in turn has the effect of lowering pain sensations.

This chemistry can be oh so confusing to us, but even such brief information, I believe, enables those suffering from Fibromyalgia Syndrome to begin to ask pertinent questions of their care providers. Seeking appropriate tests and gathering scientific data from many sources will help in finding better pathways toward management and overall comfort.


Pizzorno, Joseph and Michael Murray. Textbook of Natural Medicine. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, St. Louis. 2006.

Members of the Sandpoint Wellness Council offer several methods from their experiences that often prove effective in supporting their FMS clients and initiating more comfort.

Krystle Shapiro, BA, LMT, CDT, Reiki, Touchstone Massage Therapies, 208/290-6760

For many people who live with chronic pain, the idea of being touched may not be welcomed. During times of lower pain and discomfort, seeking massage therapy may be just what is needed. FMS sufferers have many irritating chemicals running through their bodies and may be hypersensitive. Massage therapy, however, provides many benefits: it is effective in reducing pain, anxiety, depression, and improves sleep patterns. Massage has a gentle detoxification effect to help rid the body of some of those unwanted or overproduced chemicals. Human touch provides a warm as well as a nurturing sensation that stimulates all of our good brain chemistry, which in turn supports all our bodily systems. With detoxification, such as with Manual Lymph Drainage Massage, the body benefits from ridding itself of accumulated wastes, and then it has clearer pathways for good nutritional ingredients to reach the cells. As the article above references, a good nutritious diet, regular exercise, restful sleep, and appropriate medications lead to reduced symptoms and painful experiences of FMS.

Penny Waters, Herbology and Reflexology, Relaxation Destination, 208/597-4343

Handling Fibromyalgia With the Touch of Reflexology and Herbs

Whether it was your nervous system, an overloaded immune system, a virus, a hormonal and/or emotional breakdown, or too much prolonged stress, your body has changed and you may have fibromyalgia.

Reflexology will stimulate the internal organs and glands, nervous system, muscular system and immune system when pressure is applied to the reflexes in the feet. This promotes a healing response in the body reducing tension, congestion, inflammation, and easing the symptoms of fibromyalgia- aches and pains, constipation or diarrhea, mucus conditions, and fatigue. It is extremely relaxing to the nervous system and clients usually report sleeping more deeply for several nights after one reflexology session.

Herbs are enormously supportive for providing relief. A formula will include herbs to strengthen the nervous system. Herbs which reduce inflammation and cleanse the toxic elements in the blood and liver will be included to reduce sore muscles and aches in the body. In particular herbs for the colon and lungs will be considered.

There’s no doubt that other lifestyle changes need to be made. Healthy, alkaline, nutritious food must replace empty fast foods; rest and time out from stress must be sought. Change can be difficult, so I make it as easy as possible. I provide a ‘super foods’ list and have a cookbook to make this easy. I also advocate the use of music, aroma, visualization, and uplifting reading for ways to balance our entire body, mind and spirit, and I provide ideas for these too. You don’t have time? Your body will make you sick enough until you have no choice!

If we listen to our bodies, they tell us what we need to do to get well. Yes, they are telling us to change our jobs, change our careers, or ask for counseling to deal with emotional situations. The journey to wellness is a journey of self-help, self-discovery, and self-actualization. It can be the most rewarding journey you will ever take.

Owen Marcus, MA, CAR, Rolfing, 208/265-8440

Fibromyalgia and Rolfing – releasing stress heals fibromyalgia

Do you have on going, non-specific pain? Is this pain worse when you are tired or stressed? If you answered yes, you may be suffering from fibromyalgia. I wrote a post on fibromyalgia for my blog explaining fibromyalgia and its relationship to stress. This post is the most read post on that blog. When you put stress and fibromyalgia in Google, this post comes up as the fourth search result. Fibromyalgia is a hot topic.

For years, I have told my clients that as a culture we live on the fibromyalgia continuum. Virtually everyone is at least developing some of the symptoms. The subclinical symptoms may only show up sporadically when we have pushed ourselves for several days.

Chronic sufferers of fibromyalgia just didn’t suddenly catch the illness. Fibromyalgia comes from our bodies being progressively run down. Years of stress, working hard, and not getting enough rest and good nutrition are some ways the body can manifest the exhaustion which develop into fibromyalgia.

Exhausted and hyper

What is interesting from a clinical prospective is all the diagnosed fibromyalgia sufferers I have seen in my practice are wired and exhausted. Most often, their soft tissue is lacking life or as an oriental medical doc would say, low chi. Their deeper soft tissue is tense and fibrous. Many of these clients are committed to getting well and have seen many other good practitioners without getting well. These docs and healthcare providers along with the clients can’t understand why they are still sick.

Much like with depression and chronic fatigue that are closely related to fibromyalgia, fibromyalgia clients need to release the deep chronic tension to get well. That deeper layer of soft tissue needs to come back to life. It is as if that layer is blocking the chi and blood circulation from reaching vital organs and the more superficial levels.

The power of Rolfing

Over the 30 years I have treated people, I have received many referrals from others who normally get great results, but were not getting them for these clients. We all learned that without these deep layers releasing it is as if the other work such as homeopathy and clinical nutrition can’t get into the tissue. Once the stress, exhaustion and tension releases, all the therapies that once were not working start to work better than the norm. These clients often prove to be some of the most successful cases for other practitioners. Rolfing can free the body to allow other therapies to support deep healing and rejuvenation.

Fibromyalgia is not a disease

I find fibromyalgia with the correct therapies combination “curable.” As I mentioned in the post on Stressed, the medical profession fails to recognize fibromyalgia as a real problem because they believe they have a drug for it. As you read up on this drug, you read that the drug company is not promising a cure, just a mitigation of symptoms.

Fibromyalgia is a condition that developed because the body became run down – not because of an illness that was contracted from being exposed to a pathogen. To get well you don’t treat the problem, you treat the cause. Once the cause shifts, the problem disappears. Rolfing releases the tension and teaches the body not to recreate it.

From my experience, if a person truly wants to get well from fibromyalgia and is willing to step outside the presently considered treatment box – they will get well. The road back to wellness will take a while. It will require commitment and a willingness to feel and express old emotions. There will be times when the person will feel worse – more exhausted and more depressed and possibly experience more short term pain. By hanging in there – you will get well.

Ilani Kopiecki, CMT, IET, CranioSacral and Integrated Massage,


Approaching Fibromyalgia with CranioSacral Therapy

With the heat and inflammation of fibromyalgia, tissues can be chronically tight and painful. CranioSacral Therapy can help fibromyalgia by gently and effectively releasing tight, sore muscles and joints so that oxygen can enter those areas and enhance healing. CranioSacral Therapy also addresses areas of the body that have been holding due to chronic pain, such as the neck, lower back and spine. When those areas are relaxed and aligned the whole body can be more flexible and able to move through the day.

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