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Living More Comfortably with Fibromyalgia


English: Common signs and symptoms of fibromya...

The incidence of fibromyalgia (FMS) has been steadily rising over the years.  Fibromyalgia symptoms focus on soft tissue restrictions leading to musculoskeletal pain and fatigue.  Eighteen tender point locations around the body have been identified including neck, shoulders, elbows, low back, hips, and knees creating pain, discomfort, and/or loss of range of motion.  A person must have 11 points out of the eighteen affected for three months or more to receive a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

Other symptoms may include sleep disturbances, headache, anxiety, depression, deep aching all over the body, possible digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, and fatigue ranging from mild to severe.  Additionally, chronic pain induces the release of stress chemicals and this in turn can create challenges for the body in its detoxification pathways.  As the body aches increase, one tends to compensate by holding their bodies in positions that bring some relief.  This may lead to postural abnormalities and muscle guarding by nearby structures.  Such adjusted holding patterns become adapted patterns abetting the further release of pain chemistry.  It can become a vicious cycle.

Some recent studies have looked into the connection with thyroid dysfunction as a contributor to fibromyalgia.  If one suffers from FMS, it becomes important to have a thorough check up on thyroid function.  Oftentimes correcting any abnormalities with the thyroid reduces FMS symptoms.

Research suggests the following interventions help to reduce the symptoms and discomforts of fibromyalgia.  Increase your exercise.  While it may be painful at first, begin slowly and increase as range of motion improves and pain reduces.  Exercise increases oxygen in the brain and body and helps support the release of pain reducing chemicals, especially serotonin.  Improve the diet.  Increase more raw fruits and vegetables and lots of dark leafy greens.  Greens provide magnesium necessary for muscle relaxation.  Also increase seeds, nuts, and sprouts.  Avoid food additives such as MSG, aspartame, artificial sweeteners, and food colorants.  It is also best to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.  Eliminate all processed foods that contain so many non-nutritious and oftentimes harmful ingredients.   Increase your intake of good fats, the Omega 3s, especially found in seeds, nuts and their oils, flaxseeds, fish and fish oils.  Increase herbal teas, vegetable juices, mineral broths and green powders.  These help to reduce acids in the body that can induce inflammation and pain.

It is important to address any digestive disorders such as irritable bowel, acid reflux (GERD), or intestinal irregularities like diarrhea or constipation.  Increasing alkaline forming foods will help.  You can find a list of acid/alkaline foods on the internet.

Get plenty of fresh fluids daily and improve sleep patterns.  Invest in a good multi-vitamin/mineral supplement and possibly add extra magnesium and B-complex.  Vitamins C & E along with the B-family help lower pain.  Foods to consider increasing include ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, fennel, rosemary, milk thistle, capsaicin (cayenne) and chili powder.  These are easy to include in meal planning.

Slowly increase all these good healthy foods and activities, and I am sure you will begin to feel better.

Krystle Shapiro, LMT, MSHN owns Touchstone Massage Therapies and Nutrition Plus!  She can be reached at (208) 290-6760.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

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