Practical advice for fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a condition of widespread body pain (present in all four body quaudrants) in association with at least 11 out of 17 specific tender points (5 lbs. of pressure to the area causes significant pain), for which there is no other identifiable diagnosis.
It is a rather common condition, although some doctors still don’t believe it’s a real condition. It can be difficult to manage so here are some practical tips to help those who suffer:
1. Get good sleep. The average sleep requirement for most people is 7-9 hours. Many Americans don’t get that much. But sleep is very important. It’s when your body rebuilds itself.
One prominent doctor recently told a large audience that her favorite prescription is sleep. Patients who report poor sleep have a significant increase in risk for multisystem disease. In one reported study, medical students (a favorite group of people as study subjects) were deprived of sleep even more than normal, and sure enough, after a relatively short period of time, they began to develop the symptoms of fibromyalgia. But rather than relying on drugs to help you sleep, try improved sleep hygiene (involves many different factors), then melatonin, then herbal formulas such as ones that contain valerian, chamomile, passion flower, and other calming herbals. If none of that works, you can try drugs like doxylamine or diphenhydramine or cyclobenzaprine. You can also try taking 5-HTP 100-300mg which has been proven to help with insomnia and is not a drug, but an amino acid precursor to serotonin. It’s best, if possible, to avoid regular use of prescription sleeping pills as these can affect your brain in a negative way in the long term and can be addictive as well.
2. Aerobic exercise is NOT recommended. Instead, weight lifting, stretching, yoga (especially hot or Bikram yoga), and warm water Aquasizing are helpful.
3. Eat a low allergy diet. That means cutting out gluten, dairy, soy, corn, egg, sugar, chocolate, yeasts, citrus, and tomato, along with all chemicals, dyes, and additives. Basically, adopt the philosophy that, “If God didn’t make it, don’t eat it.”
4. Take a good (usually a bit expensive) probiotic to support gut health. And not all good probiotics have to be kept refrigerated. For example, OrthoBiotic from OrthoMolecular Products is very good and needs no refrigeration.
5. Do a metabolic detox such as Metagenics 10-day Clear Change program or OrthoMolecular Core Restore, a few times a year.
6. See a cognitive behavioral therapist. If your insurance will cover it, or if you have the money, consider seeing a cognitive behavioral therapist as this is a proven form of psychotherapy to help fibro sufferers deal with their illness. And don’t take that suggestion to mean that I am saying “fibro is all in your head”. It is a real condition of heightened pain sensitivity of unknown cause.
Dr. William Epperly, Fellow American Academy of Family Practice
Fellow American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy
Member of Christian Medical and Dental Society.