Connecting fibromyalgia and clinical depression

The majority of people with fibromyalgia suffer some level of chronic depression. Which came first fibromyalgia or depression isn't always clear. What's important is identifying depression if it does appear and working to control it. Physicians say depression is one of the most treatable emotional problems around. It doesn't get better on its own it requires work. Depression is more likely to occur with your fibromyalgia if you have a close family member with depression or you've been depressed...

Trying One Medication or Therapy and If It Doesnt Work Giving Up

Some people are willing to try one medication or therapy to resolve their fibromyalgia symptoms, but if that one particular drug or treatment doesn't give them any relief, they decide that there's nothing they can do but learn to live with the chronic pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia. Don't make this mistake In the case of drugs, physicians can prescribe many different types of medications, such as painkillers, antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and other medications. There are also many...

Yes Fibromyalgia Is Real

Considering symptoms, causes, and the pain aspect Knowing who gets fibromyalgia Looking at medical problems confused with fibromyalgia Finding a good doctor Exploring over-the-counter and prescribed medications and alternative remedies Considering how fibromyalgia affects work and family Improving sleep, decreasing stress, and dealing with emotional effects ML nowing that fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a real medical problem that needs to be dealt with is an important first step toward...

Avoiding Brain and Energy Drains When Youre Hurting or Tired

This piece of advice may sound like a no-brainer, but I'll say it anyway Don't try to tackle difficult problems when your symptoms are in the red (very high) zone of pain. Many people feel that they must still help their children with complicated science projects, drive five hours to family reunions, or perform other difficult tasks that require more brain power and energy than anyone can reasonably give when in pain. Is it any wonder, in such cases, that you become confused and a little foggy...

Considering Who Gets Fibromyalgia

Just about anyone of any age can develop fibromyalgia, but most research so far indicates that the majority of people with FMS are of the female persuasion, partly because women are more sensitive to pain than men. This is a time where a little equal opportunity of pain would be preferable (if you're a woman). But who gets fibromyalgia isn't about fairness. Although women are the primary sufferers of fibromyalgia, many men have been diagnosed with FMS, too, and some men with fibromyalgia go...

Assigning a tender number to FMS

According to the American College of Rheumatology, a person should have some pain in at least 11 of the 18 tender points to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Some doctors follow this guideline, while others think that if you have nine or ten tender points (or even fewer) but you meet other criteria, you may have fibromyalgia. The presence of many tender points indicates a high probability that fibromyalgia exists if other medical problems have been ruled out and if you also exhibit other symptoms...

Believing a Doctor Who Says Fibromyalgia Is All in Your Head

Although most doctors now realize that fibromyalgia is a legitimate medical problem, some physicians continue to think that your symptoms are all in your head. If you keep complaining, such doctors may eventually send you to the nearest psychiatrist for treatment or may put you on mild antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications. In fact, you could also have depression or an anxiety disorder, and these medications could help you. (Read more about depression and anxiety disorders in Chapter 2.)...

Assessing whether sleep medication is needed

Only your doctor can decide whether a specific sleep remedy should be prescribed. However, here are some indications that a sleep remedy may be necessary Sleeping less than five hours per night Frequently waking up at night (more than two to three times) Severe daytime drowsiness from lack of sleep Impairment from lack of sleep (stumbling about, frequent instances of forgetfulness, inattentiveness), causing problems both at work and at home Gazing at the ups and downs of sleep remedies The most...

Considering Chiropractors

Many people with arthritis or fibromyalgia find small to considerable relief at the hands of a chiropractor, a practitioner who manipulates the bones and muscle tissues in an effort to relieve pain and stiffness. A chiropractor is not a medical doctor instead, a chiropractor is a licensed professional who's received specialized training regarding the bones and nervous system. Chiropractors operate in nearly all states, and many insurance companies provide at least partial medical coverage for...

Buying nonprescription medicines

You can purchase over-the-counter sleep remedies at your pharmacy or even your supermarket. Most of these drugs have the same ingredients as antihistamines (cold and allergy medicines). They may make you a little drowsy, but generally, they have a limited effectiveness at inducing sleep. In most cases, when they do induce sleep, these medications fail to deliver significant restorative sleep to their users. They can cause constipation, dry mouth, and other side effects. They may also cause...

An Electrifying Solution Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a machine-based therapy that's designed to deliver low-level electrical impulses to body areas that are in pain or spasm. The goal is to stimulate the nerve tissue to naturally release pain-fighting body chemicals. This treatment is used to help people with fibromyalgia, arthritis, and other medical conditions. Although few clinical studies have backed up the usefulness of TENS, some people report that they gain relief from this treatment....

Being frequently inattentive

You probably have a hard time paying attention to what's going on around you when you're saddled with the mental malaise characteristic of fibromyalgia. Sure, you'd love to be actively involved, but it's just not possible now. It's not that you don't care about your friends or that you don't love your family members. You do. You just can't help being so inattentive on so many occasions. Normally, you stride along, accomplishing your daily tasks at a regular pace. But when you're hit with fibro...

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is characterized by severe and long-term fatigue and exhaustion. It's also known as chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1 million people in the United States have CFS, although at best, 20 percent are diagnosed. Women have about four times the risk of suffering from CFS as men. I start with CFS because it's probably the condition most frequently confused with...

Chitting Out with Relaxation Therapy

Relaxation therapy is a strategy that uses steps to achieve an overall calming of both the body and the mind. In general, the person consciously concentrates on relaxing one part of the body, or one set of muscles, at a time until the entire body is in a state of relaxation. The great thing about relaxation therapy is that you can practice it on your own at home as often as you want. Here's how it works Close the blinds or pull down the shades (if darkness helps you relax, as it does for many...

Considering what hypnosis is and isnt

Hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness. It isn't a state of sleep, but it isn't exactly a state of being awake, either. Contrary to any myths that you may have heard about hypnosis, it's not some magic trick that's performed on you to make you do stupid things (like barking like a dog) that you aren't aware of. In addition, a hypnotist can't compel you to do anything that you'd consider objectionable or dangerous. A hypnotist may, however, be able to help you marshal your inner resources...

Considering whether you have chronic fatigue syndrome

Some people who haven't been diagnosed with FMS yet are so extremely tired that they wonder if they really may have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), a medical problem characterized by extreme exhaustion. (Read Chapter 6 for more information on CFS.) In general, if pain is the prevailing symptom and other symptoms of fibromyalgia are also present, it's likely to be fibromyalgia rather than chronic fatigue syndrome. But, of course, a physician must make this determination. Don't try to diagnose...

Experiencing Related Medical Problems

Many people with fibromyalgia also suffer from a variety of other pain-based medical problems that affect the digestive system, the joints, the nerves, and the mind, such as i Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) i Interstitial cystitis (IC) i Osteoarthritis i Rheumatoid arthritis i Lupus i Benign joint hypermobility syndrome (BJHS) i Chronic headaches i Heartburn Experts don't know why these types of painful problems seem to go together, but they have plenty of theories to explain it. One theory is...

Considering your options

Skin ointments are available in any pharmacy and most supermarkets, and there are too many brands to list here. Most are creams, but there are a few spray-on remedies. Most contain minor anesthetics such as the following ingredients 1 Capsaicin (derived from chili peppers) When it works, capsaicin can anesthetize parts of your body where you've rubbed it on your skin by reducing your level of Substance P (the pain neurochemical) and also by dulling the pain receptors at the level of your skin's...

Defining anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders come in many forms. In the following sections, I outline the most common, their symptoms, and how they are treated. Many people (about 6.8 million adults in the United States, according to the NIMH) suffer powerlessness, compounded with foreboding caused by generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). They suffer from relentless worry and fear and may have nausea, muscle aches, fatigue, and irritability. GAD differs from depression, a feeling of emotional flatness and hopelessness....

Im not depressed Why do I need an antidepressant

Some patients with fibromyalgia may have a problem with depression. But, often, people with fibromyalgia are taking antidepressants not for depression but rather for their fibromyalgia. Research has demonstrated that low doses of some antidepressants, taken on a daily basis (or, rather, nightly because most doctors recommend the drugs be taken in the evening), can help block the pain of fibromyalgia or other chronic pain. Sometimes, doctors prescribe two antidepressants at the same time for...

Exercising to Relieve Fibromyalgia Pain

Most people associate painkilling with a variety of over-the-counter or prescribed medications. But drugs aren't the only means to improving your fibromyalgia symptoms. Getting physical by starting a plan of exercising can work well, too, although exercising may seem like a sort of strange way to gain pain relief. Gentle, low-stress, paced exercising can make you feel better, loosening muscles and greasing your stiff joints and possibly acting as a preventive measure to ease your pain down the...

Chronically feeling your pain

Another key aspect of fibromyalgia is that the pain is chronic, which means it's sticking around. Sometimes, it's better sometimes, it's worse. But it's almost always there in the background, seemingly waiting to ambush you. Time for the big annual dinner at work All of a sudden, your pain escalates to excruciatingly high levels. As with many chronic illnesses, stress often aggravates fibromyalgia. As a result, pain can flare up at the worst times. Are you suffering from oligoanalgesia This...

Heating Up the Problem Heat Therapy

Heat therapy is, hands-down, the most preferred local therapy for body aches by most FMS patients, and it may work effectively for you when you're in a lot of pain and need some relief right now. Heat helps by getting your blood flowing to the painful area and by speeding up the healing process. Heat relaxes stiff muscles and improves circulation, thus easing your pain. As a result, heat that's applied to the painful area may be effective in decreasing (although probably not entirely...

Down But Not Out Physical Trauma

A physical trauma may be severe enough for some people to ultimately develop FMS. In addition to an accidental injury, some researchers have argued that the onset of fibromyalgia can be attributed to physical or sexual abuse that occurred in childhood or in adulthood. Unfortunately, some people are abused both in childhood and in adulthood, increasing their risk for a variety of health problems. In these cases of fibromyalgia, the afflicted people were basically healthy before the traumatic...

Considering Alternative Remedies and Treatments

Knowing whether an alternative therapy can really help you Using herbs and supplements Pinning your hopes on acupuncture Hoping for relief with homeopathy Getting Botox injections Trying tai chi illions of people rely on alternative remedies and treatments to help them with their chronic ailments, and patients with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) are even more frequent users of alternative therapies. A study of 13,792 patients with fibromyalgia (reported in a 2007 issue of Arthritis &...

Locating your tender points

The tender points that doctors use to help them diagnose fibromyalgia (as developed by the American College of Rheumatology) are primarily located on the upper torso, although a few can be found on other parts of the body, such as in the knees. Check out Figure 8-1 for a drawing of the locations of these tender points. All these tender points add up to a grand total of 18. In general, most doctors diagnose patients with a process that is called a differential diagnosis, which means that they...

Finding a Good Specialist or a New Primary Care Doctor

If you decide that you want to consult with a specialist, where do you start in your search for a smart and knowledgeable doctor who can help you alleviate at least some of the pain and strain of fibromyalgia Here are some basic suggestions, which should help you find a new specialist. If you need to change your primary-care doctor, these guidelines may assist you, too. Looking at doctors within your insurance network Although it's not popular to say anything good about health-insurance...

Diving into Your Medical History What the Doctor Should Ask

Most doctors agree that an integral part of an examination for any new patient is the careful taking of a medical history. Medical histories usually involve your past and current medical problems as well as any surgeries that you may have had and medications that you currently take. If you're a new patient, you'll nearly always be given a form to fill out regarding this information, or the doctor or a nurse will ask you the questions directly. In fact, even if you've seen the doctor before,...

Helping Loved Ones Deal with Your Fibromyalgia

Knowing how your fibromyalgia can affect your friends and family Making things easier for other people Discussing fibromyalgia with your children and partner Getting ready for negative reactions Evaluating possible help from support groups iza says that her fibromyalgia is pretty hard on her family, in large part MB because they just never know what to expect from her on any given day. Will she have enough energy and a low enough pain level to go to the movies or on a picnic with them today Or...

Interviewing Your Physician Candidate Whats Up

Imagining yourself interviewing a doctor to see whether she is right for you can be a pretty scary and daunting thought. Who are you, after all, to be interviewing a smart medical doctor I'll tell you who you are a person who needs help and who should find the best doctor you can. Keep in mind that the United States has thousands of doctors with many different types of medical interests and levels of expertise. What you need is a good match between you and your problems and the doctor who will...

Dumping Your Doubts about Whether FMS Is Real

Many people spend months or years questioning their fibromyalgia symptoms, sometimes wondering if they're imagining how bad the symptoms are. After all, if you feel terrible one day and then significantly better or almost normal the next day, you may start to think that maybe you were exaggerating the pain and fatigue of the previous day. The thing is, most people can't remember pain well. They can remember that they had pain, but they can't remember what it actually felt like. (This is...

Dealing with Common Sleep Disorders

Difficulty with sleeping is extremely common for people with fibromyalgia. In fact, if you don't have this problem and you've been diagnosed with FMS, you're unusual and you may not have fibromyalgia at all. (On the other hand, maybe whatever you're doing to combat your sleep disorder is working, and that's good.) Fibromyalgia pain often causes insomnia and other sleep disorders. In a vicious cycle, the lack of sleep usually makes you feel worse, which in turn, makes it even harder for you to...

Fighting Fibromyalgia Naturally with Herbs and Supplements

Can taking herbs or supplements make you feel better When it comes to fibromyalgia, most clinical studies don't show significant effects. Keep in mind, however, that all herbs and supplements can have adverse effects on your health by interacting with other medications you take or by worsening medical problems that you already have, so always consult with your doctor first before taking any herb or supplement. Don't forget that you can also combat FMS in more conventional ways. Be sure to read...

Identifying the Tender Points of Fibromyalgia

Another very important part of the diagnosis of fibromyalgia, after ruling out other medical problems that you may have had, is for physicians to consider whether or not you have tender points. In fact, the existence of tender points is one of the hallmark features that help doctors to diagnose fibromyalgia. Tender points, a key diagnostic feature of fibromyalgia, are specific areas of the body that are very painful when gently probed. (Tender points aren't the same as trigger points, also...

Getting Physical Your Initial Exam and Diagnosis

Understanding what goes into a medical history Volunteering information when your doctor doesn't ask for it Identifying the tender points of fibromyalgia Understanding the necessity of touch in a diagnosis Testing as part of the diagnostic process any people with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) report that they've seen numerous doctors, and obtaining a diagnosis of their illness has taken a year or more. Knowledge is power, and some self-education on the basics of the diagnostic process can help...

Exploring Other Theories

Other theories also try to explain why fibromyalgia strikes some people and not others. For example, maybe it's in the genes, and you inherit this propensity from your parents. Or FMS may result from too much or too little exercising. Fibromyalgia may also be caused by a structural defect at the cellular level. I explore all these possibilities in the following sections. Can something in your genes cause fibromyalgia Can you really inherit the risk for developing fibromyalgia if other people in...

Looking at the Numbers Who Has Fibromyalgia

About 6 million people in the United States and millions more worldwide have fibromyalgia, and most studies indicate that the overwhelming majority of people who are diagnosed with FMS (80 percent to 90 percent) are adult women roughly of childbearing age (about 20 to 45 years old), although some men and some children and adolescents also suffer from and are diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Many women diagnosed with fibromyalgia are white women, although women of any race may develop fibromyalgia....

Finding a Doctor Whos a True Believer in Fibromyalgia

Although I believe that most well-educated physicians are at least aware of the existence of fibromyalgia and its basic symptoms, and also know that it's a valid problem that needs to be treated, I also know that a few doctors out there still haven't gotten the word yet. If your doctor isn't helping you with your FMS symptoms, you need to help him understand it. Taking this book to your appointment and showing him what you're reading is a good start. A good doctor will consider your symptoms as...

Looking at some background info

Guaifenesin as a solution to fibromyalgia was the brainchild of Dr. Paul St. Armand, an endocrinologist from California. Dr. St. Armand believes that people with fibromyalgia build up caches of chemicals (phosphates) in their bodies, and these deposits cause pain and other symptoms characteristic of fibromyalgia. Dr. St. Armand also believes, based on personal and anecdotal observations of his patients, that the regular taking of guaifenesin can slowly rid the body of these chemical deposits...

Prescribing Health with Medications

Musing about muscle relaxants Overcoming pain with painkilling medications Knocking out stiffness and pain with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs Using antidepressant drugs against fibromyalgia Waking up to what sleep remedies can do Considering other prescribed medicines Anticipating future medications atalie has had fibromyalgia for about ten years, and says that she absolutely could not get through a single day without her pain medication. Natalie honestly believes that she'd be...

Lessening Pain with Lidoderm

A relatively new entry in the pharmaceutical arsenal against pain, Lidoderm (generic name lidocaine, 5 percent) is a transdermal skin patch that the patient applies directly to the painful area after removing the protective backing from the patch. Without its backing, the patch is very sticky and adheres to the skin. The drug soothes muscles and can provide major pain relief to many patients with fibromyalgia the drug's effects last for about 12 hours. Up to three patches can be used on the...

Knowing exactly what goes on during hypnotherapy

Hypnosis creates a passive, relaxed state. During that state, the person being hypnotized is receptive to suggestions that can benefit her needs or goals. During a hypnotherapy session, the hypnotist has the patient sit back or lie down. Often, the individual closes her eyes. The hypnotist uses some relaxation-therapy techniques, such as telling the person that her feet are very tired, then her knees, and so on. The hypnotist may tell the person that on the count of ten, she will be extremely...

Looking at Related Medical Problems

Sometimes, people strongly suspect (or are sure) that they have fibromyalgia. Instead, however, they may have arthritis, Lyme disease, lupus, thyroid dysfunction, Raynaud's phenomenon, or a variety of other common and not-so-common medical problems. And sometimes people have both fibromyalgia and other serious medical problems. Having fibromyalgia doesn't exempt you from getting sick with other illnesses (even though it seems like it would be only fair that it should). With the existing array...

Looking Elsewhere for a Doctor How to Know if Its Time

If you've tried to work with your doctor and you feel like you're just not getting anywhere, and if your pain, fatigue, and other symptoms continue to be moderate to severe or maybe they're getting worse, you may want to consider working with another physician. It may be the only way for you to get the help that you need. You have to make your own individual decision about when to seek another medical opinion. But here are some basic points for you to keep in mind before you decide to switch...

Parenting a Child or Adolescent with Fibromyalgia

Comparing children's fibromyalgia symptoms to those of adults Finding a good doctor Regarding treatments that work Coping with the emotions of your other children Handling fibromyalgia and school Dealing with other children 7ommy is a 13-year-old boy who's been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. He says that he's had aches and pains ever since he can remember, and his doctor had always told his concerned parents that Tommy was having growing pains. Tommy first found out that he might have...

Sizing up the symptoms

Many people with fibromyalgia report that the following statements are true about their fibromyalgia symptoms. In fact, most people with fibromyalgia say that they have at least several, if not all, of these symptoms (which I cover in much more detail in Chapter 2) Flu-like pain that can be severe A constant feeling of extreme fatigue Several tender body areas that hurt Overall body aches Depression and or anger Feeling very anxious Muscle stiffness and pain Chronic back pain i Worsening of...

Mastering selfhypnosis

Maybe you'd prefer to take charge and figure out how to perform hypnosis on yourself. But how on earth can you first put yourself under, and then, at the same time, give yourself hypnotic suggestions It may sound impossible, but experts say that self-hypnosis is doable. One possibility is to use a tape recording of your voice with the suggestions that you want to reinforce in your mind. Another possibility is to sort of preprogram your mind with the ideas and concepts that you want to...

The What When and Why of Fibromyalgia

In the first four chapters, I cover the realities of fibromyalgia. I offer a self-test, in case you need help in determining whether you may have FMS. The various symptoms of fibromyalgia are important to understand, and I cover them in detail in Chapter 2. I also talk about possible causes of fibromyalgia in Chapter 3. Nobody knows exactly what causes FMS, but there are some intriguing theories about the perpetrators of this medical problem (such as, it may be in your genes). Chapter 4 covers...

Medicating the Problem Overthe Counter Drugs May Help

Regarding guaifenesin A cough medicine used by some for fibromyalgia symptoms Optimizing over-the-counter painkillers Considering antihistamines or cold remedies that may help Talking about topical remedies m guaifenesin (pronounced gway-fehn-ih-sin) is a cough medicine promoted by some patients and doctors as a treatment for fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). Tina says that she feels so much better since she's started taking guaifenesin to treat her fibromyalgia. According to Tina, she still has...

Pondering Future Remedies

Because so many people suffer from the symptoms of fibromyalgia, pharmaceutical companies are working very hard to develop medications that are specifically effective for people with fibromyalgia. As a result, new and better treatments should be available within the next few years or even sooner. So hang on, if you're dissatisfied with the medications that are available now. Help is on its way. As of this writing, research appears to be surging ahead in such areas as growth hormones or dopamine...

Looking At All Your Treatment Options

Here's where I talk about what to do about your fibromyalgia. In Chapter 9, I cover over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin, guaifenesin, and dex-tromethorphan, as well as different categories of medications, such as antihis-tamines and topical remedies applied to the skin. And I describe the full gamut of prescribed remedies for FMS in Chapter 10, including some new medications that you need to know about. I then talk about some hands-on therapy that can help you, such as icing or...

Modifying Your Lifestyle Small Changes Big Results

You can make some nonmedical lifestyle changes to ease your pain. In Chapters 13 and 14, I tell you how you can control stress using relaxation therapy, hypnotherapy, meditation, and yoga, and provide details on how to get a good night's sleep. In Chapter 15, I include important information on exercising, losing weight, and making key dietary changes that may help considerably. In Chapter 16, I cover dealing with the emotional fallout of FMS, and, if you need a therapist, I offer advice on...

Pinning Down a Solution Acupuncture

Some people with fibromyalgia announce feeling considerable relief after undergoing acupuncture, the careful insertion of special pins at specific points of the body by a trained practitioner. Others, however, have said that acupuncture had no effect on them, and some have reported that the experience made them feel worse. Several key clinical studies on acupuncture have shown that acupuncture is effective against the pain of fibromyalgia. For example, in a study on fibromyalgia patients...

Recognizing Key Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Regarding the pain and stiffness Analyzing the fatigue Sorting out fibro fog Coping with your body's reaction to weather changes Suffering from sleep problems Identifying related medical problems that you may have for Sandy, the horrible pain is what bothers her most about her fibromyalgia. Sure, she has some other symptoms that bother her as well, such as fatigue and chronic muscle stiffness, especially in the morning. But only the severe pain counts, in her mind. For Lisa, the pain is also...

Rubbing Out the Problem Massage Therapy

Except when you're in excruciating pain, massage therapy is a treat A mild massaging of your aching muscles and other tender areas of your body can be helpful, whether the massage is performed by a professional massage therapist or by your loving partner or a friend. (A professional is preferable, if you can afford it or, even better, if your health insurance covers it.) If no one's available to provide you with a massage, you may choose to use a mechanical massager. Be sure to set such devices...

Suffering from muscle stiffness especially in the morning

Many people with fibromyalgia say that the severe muscle stiffness and achi-ness is the worst in the morning. You may wake up and feel as though you've already participated in a major marathon or maybe as though gremlins beat you all night long. The stiffness may diminish as you move about, but usually it doesn't go away completely. People with arthritis also often experience muscle stiffness, so maybe in the past, doctors told you that your problem was arthritis. You may have both arthritis...

Using ultrasound for diagnosis

An ultrasound is a special device that uses sound waves to create outlines of an organ. Along with other tests, it can be helpful with diagnosis. A pregnant woman typically has at least one or two ultrasounds of her baby during the course of her pregnancy, so that the obstetrician can make sure that the fetus is developing normally. An ultrasound isn't invasive and is usually not painful, unless the ultrasound wand is pressed against an area of the body that's hurting. The ultrasound technician...

Mesmerizing the Pain Hypnotherapy

Look deeply into my eyes You're getting sleepy, very sleepy. Most people think of hypnotherapy in terms of a rather scary-looking person who somehow makes them fall into his power and then induces them to lose weight or rid themselves of other bad habits. Or they may perceive hypnosis as something fake and useless a carnival trick and nothing more. Although, sadly, plenty of charlatans are out there in the business, claiming to offer hypnosis services but selling only lies, many other people in...

Ten Mistakes to Avoid When You Have Fibromyalgia

Failing to get a diagnosis as you try to ignore your symptoms Believing a doctor who says your symptoms are all in your head Trying one medicine or therapy, and if it doesn't work, giving up altogether on treatment Obsessing about fibromyalgia as the cause of all your problems Assuming that somehow you (or others) caused your symptoms ebbie, age 40, said that when her fibromyalgia symptoms first started about three years ago, she ignored them. They got much worse as time passed, but she...

Touching is part of the process

Doctors need to touch their patients in most physical examinations, if only to check their basic reflexes. But touching the patient is even more important if a person may have fibromyalgia because physical pain is a key problem faced by most people with FMS. The doctor needs to see if it hurts when you're touched, as well as where it hurts, and how much it hurts. If you try to be really brave and avoid wincing or reacting at all when the doctor presses a tender point, or any other part of your...

Realizing that its not a cure but it can be helpful

A gentle to medium massage treatment can't cure you of your fibromyalgia, but it may ease your pain for a few hours or even a day or so. When it works, massage can stimulate the production of endorphins, natural pain chemicals that travel to the hurting parts of your body and provide relief somewhat like soldiers in the cavalry, rushing in to help the besieged troops at the fort. But these endorphins only stay in the bloodstream for so long. Massage therapy clearly can be very useful for some...

Relaxing Your Fibromyalgia Muscle Relaxants

Many people with fibromyalgia complain of muscle aches and pains, so many physicians prescribe muscle relaxants. These drugs do more than just what they sound like They soothe your overtensed muscles and reduce your pain but they often do more than that, such as improve sleep and decrease depression. fftNG Be sure to avoid alcohol when you're taking muscle relaxants. One muscle relaxant, Soma (generic name carisoprodol), can cause an opium-like high in some people when it's combined with...

Ten Myths about Fibromyalgia

Mastering the myths and realities of fibromyalgia Helping others understand what's real and not real Maintaining your perspective talk about some fibromyalgia myths in other chapters throughout this book. Some of these myths are that fibromyalgia is imaginary, and that people who think they've got it are either lazy or crazy. Another myth is that people who say that they have fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) are attention seekers or that they're seeking narcotics to get high. Of course, you've...

Warming Up to Cold Remedies for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is very different from the common cold, unless you want to factor in the generalized aches and pains of a severe flu into your cold equation. (Many people say that fibromyalgia feels like a semipermanent case of the flu to them, with periodic breaks of feeling a little better.) Despite this difference, some remedies that are given to people with colds, bronchitis, and related ailments may be helpful to people who have fibromyal-gia. I cover guaifenesin (a remedy that's effective in...

The Other Suspects

In addition to the diseases and medical conditions that I discuss earlier in this chapter, the specific medical problem that causes pain, fatigue, and other symptoms characteristic of fibromyalgia may be caused by another underlying disease or condition. There are too many possibilities to name them all here, but several are worth discussing, including Lyme disease, Raynaud's phenomenon, various medical conditions that cause back pain, and infectious mononucleosis. Lyme disease is an infection...

Where to Go from Here

After you've read this book and started using my suggestions to begin your journey to less pain and better health, I hope that you'll experience the considerable improvement that many others have felt. In particular, I hope you maintain your personal commitment to managing your own health. I also hope that you'll be well armored against attacks from people out there who somehow still (and wrongly ) think that fibromyalgia is fake. Fibromyalgia is a real medical problem it's not something that's...

Understanding How Fibromyalgia Can Affect Your Relationships

Most people can grasp the basic symptoms of fibromyalgia, and they can also understand how fibromyalgia affects you, individually, in your daily life. Of course, people aren't solely rational beings they have emotions, too. As a result, even if and when they fully grasp your problem logically, they may still have an emotional element to their thoughts about FMS that includes feelings of anger, resentment, sadness, confusion, and so on. These emotions are normal in everyday interactions with...

Volunteering Info if the Doc Doesnt Ask You about It

In most cases, the doctor will ask you questions that elicit the information that's needed to give you good treatment. Once in a while, however, some facts or complaints may not come out in the course of your encounter with your doctor. Be sure to volunteer any information that you think may be important to your diagnosis. Whatever happens, make sure that you accomplish the principal mission of your office visit Communicate your chief medical complaints to your doctor. You may find that, for...

Weighing the risks and benefits of muscle relaxants

The primary benefits of muscle relaxants are that they may provide temporary pain relief. In addition, the sedating action of most muscle relaxants can help FMS patients with trouble sleeping to avoid yet another sleepless night. On the negative side, the chief side effect of many muscle relaxants is gastrointestinal distress, such as stomach pain and diarrhea. This gastrointestinal problem may range from mild to severe, depending on the particular drug and the particular patient. At the...

Treating a Child with Fibromyalgia

Children with fibromyalgia are treated much the same way as adults, although, of course, any medication dosages must be adjusted for the child's weight, and the doctor should also take into account any other drugs the child is taking. When thinking about what medications to prescribe or what over-the-counter drugs to recommend to parents, doctors should always consider potential problems that may occur with a person who's still growing and maturing. If the doctor doesn't mention it, ask her...

Wetting Down Your Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Water can often improve your symptoms from fibromyalgia. Hydrotherapy, or using water exercises in a pool as a form of therapy, is an effective means to relieve fibromyalgia pain. It also often helps considerably in improving your other symptoms such as a lack of sleep. A study of 50 FMS patients reported in Sleep Medicine in 2006 placed patients in two groups, one receiving hydrotherapy and the other receiving conventional physical therapy. The hydrotherapy subjects did warm-ups, stretching,...

Sweet Dreams Combating Sleep Disorders

Understanding sleep and its importance for people with fibromyalgia Knowing about sleep stages and their relevance to fibromyalgia syndrome Discovering common sleep disorders for those with fibromyalgia Considering lifestyle changes that enhance sleep Treating sleep disorders with medications and alternative remedies m uanita's fibromyalgia pain occurs every day, and it's very severe so bad that she can't work most days and is considering filing for disability benefits. Bob's pain is...

Understanding what happens

Different biofeedback practitioners use different methods, but in general, the patient sits in a chair and is connected to a series of monitors. One monitor takes the skin temperature of the hand or arm. Another monitor, often placed on a finger, takes the pulse. Other monitors may also be used to take various body measurements, such as your blood pressure. The individual views a representation (often a line graph) of temperature or pulse on a monitor, and is told to relax. As the person...

Understanding Fibromyalgia Pain

Recognizing that pain has both bad and good (really ) roles in life Seeing how fibromyalgia pain is different from non-fibromyalgia pain Understanding that not all pain can be eliminated nor should it be Discovering what pain management is and how it can help Keeping a pain symptom diary M ain is bad. But pain is also good. And yes, these seemingly contradictory * statements are both true. I know that the idea of pain as a useful thing is very hard to wrap your mind around when you're...

Who Gets Picked to Have Fibromyalgia

Understanding why women are most afflicted Analyzing the impact of age and other factors Considering fibromyalgia in men JtyM aybe you're a woman who has fibromyalgia. In addition to you, your sister has it, your daughter has it, and you think that your mother probably has it as well, although she hasn't been diagnosed yet. All the key women in your family seem to have fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). Not only that, but your brother who served in the Gulf Wars or in Afghanistan is also...

Regarding the Different Kind of Pain Thats Fibromyalgia

Based on my research and the research of others, I can tell you that the pain that comes with fibromyalgia has three primary aspects. Very basically, people with fibromyalgia feel pain 1 Faster than others do FMS sufferers have a lowered pain threshold, meaning that, for example, if someone stuck a pin in you and another one in Susan (who doesn't have fibromyalgia), you'd probably yell before she would. (Read Chapter 3 for possible causes of this heightened pain.) 1 Worse than others do When...

Weathering Your Reactions to Weather

Many people with fibromyalgia feel that they're very weather-sensitive. When a cold or warm front is coming on, before they hear it on the radio or see a TV report about the impending storm, they feel pain intensifying in their bodies. Major temperature changes may also cause flare-ups of fibromyalgia symptoms. Cold and wet weather seems to bother weather-sensitive fibromyalgia sufferers the most. Some people study the phenomenon of weather changes and their impact It's called biometeorology,...

Prescribing painkillers The dilemma

For some people with fibromyalgia, their pain is constant and severe, and it can only be made bearable by taking painkilling medications. Some people with fibromyalgia say that their doctors are reluctant about prescribing any painkilling medications, telling them to take regular Tylenol or ibuprofen if they have pain. Others say that as long as the drug isn't on the scheduled-drug list, their doctor will give it to them. Judy says that she could probably score cocaine easier than she could...

Understanding the Importance of Sleep Stages

People need to experience enough sleep, in terms of the number of hours that they sleep (usually seven to eight hours per night), and they also need to experience all the different stages of sleep, ranging from light sleep to deep sleep. Some researchers believe that people with fibromyalgia don't spend enough time in the very deep sleep levels. A lack of quality deep sleep may inhibit an adequate production of important protective hormones that are normally made while we sleep, such as growth...

Watching out for dangerous remedies

Some natural remedies can be extremely dangerous, particularly some drugs that purport to help you lose weight but that are primarily comprised of highly stimulating drugs (such as ephedra, also known as ma huang). The effects of such drugs are similar to the action of an excessive level of the hormone adrenaline. These drugs may act like a nonprescription amphetamine drug, speeding up your metabolism to dangerous or even fatal levels. In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the...

Wondering Why Women Suffer More than Men from Fibromyalgia

Research has shown that women are significantly more sensitive to painful stimuli than most men are, and this pain sensitivity is particularly true with regard to the soft tissues and muscles that are examined by physicians. (Soft tissue and muscle pain can stem from damage or defects to the musculoskele-tal system, such as strains, tears, or fractures. Rarely, it comes from infections or organic defects or damage, such as heart attack or stroke.) Studies have also revealed that women are often...

Working with a Good Fibromyalgia Doc You Need a True Believer

Talking fibromyalgia with your primary-care doctor Analyzing specialists who treat fibromyalgia Finding a good specialist or a new primary-care doctor inda saw an internist, a family practitioner, and two rheumatologists before she was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Sam says that he saw five different doctors. He's forgotten what all their specialties were, but it wasn't until he saw a pain-management expert that he was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Amy was lucky compared to most...

Working with Your Primary Care Doctor

In many cases, your regular physician can readily diagnose and treat your fibromyalgia, and you won't need to see any other doctors to receive specialty knowledge or instructions. Over the last several years, most physicians have begun to realize and accept that FMS is a valid diagnosis (although some skeptical doctors and also some total nonbelievers are still out there). Sometimes, however, your primary-care doctor may need to look up a few things about fibromyalgia, and he may also want to...

Dealing with irritable bowel syndrome

Having the pain, achiness, and mental confusion that can accompany fibromyalgia is bad enough. But many people with FMS also suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a colonic condition that, very simply put, causes the person to feel bloated and alternate between having constipation and diarrhea. (Another name for IBS is spastic colon.) Many people with IBS either can't go at all or are constantly running for the bathroom. Some people with IBS have only chronic constipation or only chronic...

Including Your Children Who Dont Have Fibromyalgia

When your child has a chronic medical problem, and it's one that your other children don't have, you may feel like you're balancing on a tightrope sometimes. You don't want to pay so much attention to the sick child that the healthy children think that they should act sick to be heard and seen. But at the same time, you can't ignore FMS, just as you can't ignore other chronic medical problems your child may have, such as diabetes, asthma, and so on. Try to make sure that every child gets...

Dealing with depression

If you have fibromyalgia, you're at increased risk for depression. Depression is a chronic and severely low mood state, in which a person feels chronically sad and has feelings of poor self-worth, appetite and sleep disturbances, and a loss of enjoyment in activities that used to be pleasurable. At worst, the depressed person considers or acts on suicidal thoughts. At best, the person feels sad and distressed. Thankfully, depression is highly treatable. Many primary-care physicians recognize...

Finding Help for Your Child with FMS

Suppose that you're convinced that your child has fibromyalgia. What's the first step When deciding where to get help for your child or teen, start with his pediatrician, even though some pediatricians are wary of diagnosing fibromyalgia in children. If you find that your child's pediatrician is completely unsympathetic and unwilling to seek out the cause of your child's symptoms, you may want to look for another pediatrician. My guidelines for finding a new doctor, in Chapter 7, can be adapted...

Discovering Dietary Effects Good Foods Bad Foods

You probably can't alleviate your fibromyalgia entirely by watching what you eat. However, studies have indicated that you may be able to reduce your pain level and even improve your quantity and quality of sleep by plotting a course toward certain foods and away from others. People with FMS are different from each other, and no large-scale studies have found that some foods are good and others should be banned for people with fibromyalgia, but patterns are emerging. For example, some...

If your child is physically attacked

Sometimes, other children or adolescents can become physically abusive, and taunting may escalate to pushing and even punching. If this type of violence happens to your child, it's illegal. Report it to the school authorities if it happens at school, and if the abuse is beyond a few minor pushes, report it to the local police as well. Remind yourself that a bullying child who can be stopped and rehabilitated now is less likely to grow up to become an adult who assaults others. But above all,...

Improving your diet and exercising to shed pounds

Weight-loss medications exist for people who can't get the pounds off, no matter what they do (see the following section). But before you resort to prescribed medications and their side effects, work on exercising and changing your diet. I know, I know, it sounds boring and it's harder than popping a pill. But for most people, it's the best way. Exercise is good, but pace yourself. Because fibromyalgia is a condition with frequent ups and downs, you may make the mistake of demanding too much of...

Ordering up a round of lab tests

Part of your physical examination may include laboratory tests, such as blood tests and urinalysis. It's normal for the doctor to want such tests to be done, so don't be alarmed if your doctor orders them. The pain of fibromyalgia may appear to the doctor to be the beginnings of rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, both very serious and deteriorating arthritic conditions. Another possibility is multiple sclerosis, also a serious disease. In addition, the doctor will often want to verify that you...

Considering How Fibromyalgia Relates to Womens Ages

FMS is most commonly diagnosed in women who are between the ages of 20 and 45. In this section, I give you more information on how age and FMS correlate in women of different ages, from young adulthood and middle age to women in their 50s and older. Young and middle-aged women and menstruation Young and middle-aged women may both suffer from fibromyalgia. Young women may find that they're experiencing the onset of their fibromyalgia symptoms, or they may have had FMS for years. (I'm defining...

Feeling That Youre a Defective Person Because of Your Fibromyalgia

Some people with fibromyalgia are ashamed and embarrassed by their disorder. They may not think that they're bad people who somehow deserve the disorder (as discussed earlier in this chapter), but they still feel that they aren't as effective as the other people they know at work or in their families. The reality is that most people, at some time in their lives, have a serious and chronic medical problem. It may be arthritis, it may be diabetes, it may be chronic headaches, or it may be...

Being Terribly Fatigued

Darla says that sometimes she orders her feet to move, but they just don't go, which is especially true when she gets up in the morning. This extreme fatigue is common among people with fibromyalgia. Yet, despite such profound fatigue, few patients with FMS get a satisfactory night's sleep. Although the pain is still the worst part for most people with fibromyalgia, the bone-numbing exhaustion is also terribly distressing for many people, who say that this kind of fatigue goes far beyond simple...

Opening Your Eyes to Sleep Remedies

If dark circles under your eyes and severe tiredness due to lack of sleep accompany your other symptoms of fibromyalgia, you're definitely not alone. Most people with fibromyalgia have severe sleep problems. If you're deprived of the restorative qualities of a good night's sleep and the opportunity for your body to rest and recuperate from the day's ordeals, this lack of sleep can greatly worsen your symptoms of pain, muscle stiffness, and fatigue. You can choose from many ways to cope with...

Looking at Fibromyalgia Symptoms in Children and Teens

If you think that your child or adolescent may have fibromyalgia, what sort of symptoms should you be watching out for, and how is juvenile FMS different from, or the same as, adult fibromyalgia In many cases, fibromyalgia in children is pretty much the same as FMS in adults. But as in Tommy's case, many pediatricians may dismiss muscle aches and pains and tiredness, perceiving them as normal unspecific pains, or they may ignore other common fibromyalgia symptoms, such as trouble getting to...

Anticipate questions

It's understandable and normal if your children have many questions about your fibromyalgia. When you open the topic to questions, you may be surprised at the floodgate that's released. Sometimes, questions will come right away. Other questions may come tomorrow or a week from now. Your children may ask how long you're going to have this condition (you don't know) and when you're going to get better (you're working on it, but again, you don't know the answer to this question, as much as you'd...

Examining Environmental Causes

Maybe some people's bodies react to an allergy quite extremely by exhibiting fibromyalgia symptoms, or maybe some people consume a substance and react negatively to it, causing the FMS symptoms to occur. Doctors don't know for sure, so the studies continue. Another theory about FMS is that it may result from the body's allergic reaction to something else in the environment, whether it's chemicals, smoke, or other irritants. This may be why antihistamines can make some people with fibromyalgia...

Arthritis

Some people with fibromyalgia may be told that they have arthritis and the doctor may be right, because arthritis is commonly associated with FMS. Very generally, arthritis is a disease of the joints and the surrounding tissues. Arthritis has many different forms, but two primary types are the arthritis leaders osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Physicians may sometimes assume that patients have one of these forms of arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis (because it's so common), when...

Finding Out Whether You Have Fibromyalgia

To know whether you may have FMS, it helps to consider patterns found among people already diagnosed. You can still have FMS even if you don't fit neatly into one or more of these categories, but it's less likely. I cover this information in Chapter 5. Then, moving to Chapter 6, I describe medical problems often confused with fibromyalgia, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, myofascial pain syndrome, arthritis, lupus, Raynaud's phenomenon, and thyroid disease. Some people have more than one of...