Fibromyalgia is a very common problem presenting itself as pain and tenderness in the muscles, ligaments and connective tissue. Patients experience muscular pain that is similar to what results from injury or muscle overuse. You can feel like you’ve been beaten up or lifted heavyweights, when you’ve done no such thing.
Tenderness in the muscles and tendons, which are painful to touch are known as ‘trigger points’.
Pain may be chronic or intermittent and to qualify for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia it must have been present for at least three months.
Fibromyalgia affects women much more commonly than men. Often the pain begins during the peri-menopausal years. Fibromyalgia is often associated with chronic fatigue, headaches and disturbed sleep. It shares many features with autoimmune disease, and some researchers are starting to label it as autoimmune.
What causes fibromyalgia?
Causes of fibromyalgia are many and may include:
- Immune dysfunction with increased inflammation in the connective tissues and bones
- Digestive dysfunction. See below for more information.
- Hormonal imbalances. Eg; decreasing production of the steroid hormones from the ovaries, and possibly the adrenal glands.
- Deficiencies of minerals will increase fibromyalgia and is very common in perimenopausal women
- Hidden infections in the body
- Build-up of toxins and acidic waste products in the connective tissues and muscles.
The gut is often the source of the problem
Conventional medical treatment doesn’t have a lot to offer; pain relievers, antidepressants and drugs used for epilepsy (e.g. Lyrica) are most commonly prescribed; all with a range of undesirable side effects. For many years I’ve seen that a lot of my fibromyalgia patients experience gut symptoms such as irritable bowel syndrome, reflux or abdominal bloating. Even if they don’t have those symptoms, when sent off for tests, they are often found to have an imbalance between good and bad bowel bacteria.
Recently, a study conducted at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles found that one hundred percent of the fibromyalgia patients studied were found to have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). This is a huge deal because so much can be done to restore the balance of gut bacteria and relieve the fibromyalgia. SIBO simply means there is too much bacteria present in the wrong location. We all have approximately one and a half kilograms of bacteria in our intestines; most of it is supposed to be in the large intestine. If too much bacteria travels up into the small intestine it creates a problem because the bacteria inflames the gut wall and creates leaky gut. This causes the absorption of bowel toxins into systemic circulation. Fibromyalgia is a common consequence.