Fibromyalgia and the need for a multifaceted approach for a successful treatment
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a condition characterised by generalised pain, tenderness and diffuse aching in muscles and connective tissue. It is typically found in middle aged women but not exclusively.It is now recognised as a common rheumatic complaint occurring in up to 20 per cent of musculoskeletal patients, and is often associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. However, Fibromyalgia is just a symptom – which just means pain in muscles.
There are several approaches to the treatment of fibromyalgia, but overall successful results have been very poor. This may well be due to a poor understanding of the origin of the condition and attempting to find a single approach to its treatment.
What causes Fibromyalgia?
Post Viral Fatigue
Fibromyalgia is often associated with chronic fatigue syndrome and there is a field of thought that considers the underlying causes to be similar. As all cells require energy to work, a breakdown in the mechanism of producing this energy could be at least one of the explanations for chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. There are two processes which produce cellular energy, Oxidative phosphory-lactation, and the process of Glycosis being inefficient.
Mineral and Vitamin deficiency
Red cell magnesium deficiency would seem to be a common finding in fibromyalgia. Clinically it has been found that one of the most efficient means of correcting this imbalance is with magnesium malate (see Malic Acid). Vitamin B12 and Folic acid are frequently found to be low or deficient, as is vitamin D.
Malic Acid is found in our diets and is synthesized in our body through the citric acid cycle. This process is important in the production of muscle energy during aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Because of its relationship to energy depletion during exercise, Malic Acid supplementation, especially delivered as a magnesium malate, may be a very important aspect in the treatment of fibromyalgia.
The symptoms of an underactive thyroid can have a very similar pattern to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia all three being commonly found in females in the age brackets of 20 to 50 years. One condition can mask the presence of the others and therefore be the reason for the misdiagnosis. Several studies have found Fibromyalgia patients to also have raised thyroid antibodies, being indicators of autoimmune disease.
A disturbance of the hypothalamic-Pituitary-adrenal axis (the brain hormonal control mechanism) has been associated with Fibromyalgia, where the Adrenal gland function becomes imbalanced with low cortisol levels and low endorphin (the body's natural pain killer). Decreased night time levels of the hormones Prolactin and Growth hormone have also been found in women with fibromyalgia.
Three studies have suggested that fibromyalgia patients have lower levels of melatonin during dark hours. They also suggested that this may contribute to sleep disturbance experienced by fibromyalgia patients. Studies also found that improvement in melatonin levels and sleep quality coincided with less tenderness and pain in the fibromyalgia patients.
Food allergy and intolerances are commonly found in the fibromyalgia patient and are at the very least aggravating factors due to the inflammatory process that occurs as a result of an immune response to "foods" perceived as "foreign" to the body entering the blood stream. There is considerable evidence in the scientific literature that implicates commonly consumed foods with inflammation.
Fibromyalgia patients tend to have abnormally high levels of yeast and fungal metabolites in their urine. One of the most prevalent of these yeast and fungal metabolites is called Tartaric Acid. This compound was found to be elevated up to 50 times greater than normal in fibromyalgia patients. Tartaric acid is considered a muscle toxin.