Fibromyalgia Symptoms 101 Part 3

In the previous posts, I covered the 6 symptoms that almost everybody with Fibromyalgia has. However, there are probably another 50 or 60 symptoms that range from very very common to not so common. I’d like to start speaking about some of the more common Fibro symptoms and work my way to the lesser symptoms.

7 Skin Sensitivity: This is the feeling that any pressure on the skin can make you jump with pain. It can be something as subtle as your husband touching you lovingly or you accidentally banging your arm against a table. Many people will also notice that they can’t wear tight clothes as just the pressure of the clothes on the skin is enough to start the pain. The pressure can even be as light as having long hair resting on your shoulders. In fact, many people with Fibro will cut their hair short to avoid this. Many will wear loose fitting clothes, sandals, even pajama like clothes to minimize the pressure on the skin.

Why the sensitivity? This relates back to the nervous system firing on overdrive, the cranial and spinal nerves which control  movement also skin sensation, pain, pressure, hot/cold feelings, itchiness etc. The sensory part of the nerve is constantly being affect and therefore you experience that sensitivity to the touch.

8 Sensitivity to the Sun. Ever go out on a sunny  day and the sun is just about blinding to you, it literally causes you pain in the head and you begin to feel sick. In fact, going outside with sunglasses is just not possible.

Why the sensitivity to the Sun?. Simply, your adrenal glands are weak, another sign of Fibromyalgia. The adrenal glands are two little triangular glands that sit right atop the kidneys. Generally, with fibro,  your adrenal glands are on overdrive and they produce as much adrenal as possible, than they must regenerate the adrenalin leading to weak glands. A sign of weak adrenals is hypersensitivity to bright light. If you check your pupils, which should open with less light and close with more light (like a cat), you’ll find them to be very sluggish, another sign of weak adrenals. Lastly there is a test called Ragland’s Test. This is where you take your blood pressure sitting down, than immediately take it standing up. The blood pressure should rise by 5 to 10 points because adrenalin should be produced making the heart beat faster to get blood to the muscles so you can stand up. When the heart beats faster, the Blood Pressure should rise. With weak adrenals and Fibro, there generally is not a change in the blood pressure, another sign. Sometimes the pressure will even drop 5 to 10 points.

9 Sensitivity to Sound, Taste and Smell. The sound of loud music, especially lower notes like a booming base drum can rattle your body and teeth. The sound can actually cause pain. In the past you might have loved garlic, the taste or the smell, but now it makes you nauseous. Same with other foods that are not as strong. It can work the other way also where certain foods just seem to have no taste and very possibly no smell.

Why the sensitivity to Sound, Taste and Smell? There are two reasons for this. One is that due to lack of sleep (you are sleep deprived), your senses will heighten. Secondly, again, the nervous system is on overdrive, which means that the cranial nerves which control smell, sound and taste are working much more intensively than they normally would, and you therefore experience these senses in a heightened degree. As all nerves work biochemically, when the nerves fatigue, you might experience a lessened sense also.

Next: Fibromyalgia Symptoms 101  Part 4

Fibromyalgia Symptoms 101 Part 2

Today, I would like to speak abut the the second set of 3 symptoms which are part of the big 6. In other words, these 6 are symptoms which almost everybody with Fibromyalgia complains of.

4 Gastro-Intestinal Problems. This usually manifests as Gastric Reflux syndrome, Irritable Bowell Symptom, generalized bloating, generalized gas or any type of pain in the stomach, colon or intestine. The pain can be present all the time or after eating. It may occur at night,. during the day and might come and go or be constant. One might also experience chronic constipation or chronic diarrhea, or these two might alternate. It will appear that there is no rhyme or reason. There might be a dull nagging pain in the gut or a constant sharp pain that can be quite debilitating.

Why the GI Pain? As I had mentioned in the previous post, the Autonomic (automatic) Nervous system is not functioning well. This is made up of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. When the sympathetic nervous system is constantly working, the parasympathetic nervous system is off, when the parasympathetic is working the sympathetic is off. With Fibromyalgia, the sympathetic system is almost constantly on meaning the parasympathetic system is working very sluggishly at best. The parasympathetic controls digestion in the body. Thus when you eat, not all the food is being digested. The bacteria in the gut than digests the remainder of the food and the end product of bacterial metabolism is methane gas, thus you might experience much gas. Similarly, gastric juices not used are left in the stomach and reflux into the esophagus. Furthermore, food that stays in the gut accumulates, goes into the colon leading to irritation in the colon (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

5 Depression: It is natural to be depressed when you are dealing with a chronic illness. Emotionally, this can be quite devastating. On the other hand, there is another type of depression which is chemical or physiological in nature that is quite common with people suffering from Fibromyalgia. This is that feeling of utter uselessness, the feeling of not wanting to leave your bed, the frustration of not being about to find a solution to the illness. You have days where you feel like giving up, than you have better days. Chances are that you have been prescribed an anti-depressive medication at some time or other.

Why the Depression? As I had mentioned, your body is producing a huge amount of adrenalin (remember that this is what makes sleep so difficult). The excess adrenalin also passes through the blood brain barrier and attaches itself to serotonin, norepenephrin and dopamine receptors in the brain leading to a physiological depression. Remember that meds such as Prozac work with serotonin receptors while Wellbutrin work with norepinephrine receptors. This process is called Adrenal Syndrome.

6 Fibro Fog: This is that feeling when concentration becomes difficult to impossible. It also shows up as being very forgetful. Just balancing a checkbook becomes a chore. Sometimes you will panic and believe that you are developing dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, but this is not the case, it is just the Fibro Fog.

So why the Fog: This goes back to the over amount of adrenaline that you are producing. as the body can’t rid itself, some goes to the brain where it attaches to specific brain receptors, leading to a decrease in your ability to think clearly. Please understand that this is not a permanent state, and as Fibro can come and go, so does the Fibro Fog.

Next: Fibromyalgia Symptoms 101 Part 3

More Fibromyalgia symptoms

Fibromyalgia and Exercise

First, it is important to know a little bit about the physiology of the body. When a muscle contracts, the end product of muscle metabolism is lactic acid,  which normally gets flushed out of the body. With Fibromyalgia, there is so much muscle contraction occurring continuously, that the lactic acid is not able to be flushed out of the body and therefore starts to accumulate in the muscle belly. As lactic acid is very irritating to the muscle, the body than produces fibrous tissue to cover the lactic acid so there is no damage done to the muscle.

Now that the basic physiology is finished, here is why you flare if you do too much to fast.

When you do too much exercise too fast, you are breaking down the fibrous tissue which than frees the lactic acid causing that deep burning pain. Therefore, before starting any type of exercise, it is important to very very slowly stretch the muscles. You must start very slow and add 15 seconds or more a day. If you feel a flare, than you are doing too much and you must back down to a lesser amount of stretching.

It’s also a very good idea to drink lots of water after exercising as this helps to flush the lactic acid out of the body. No exercise drinks, just water!

Remember, go very slow and gage for yourself, if you start flaring, you’re doing too much to soon.

Dr. Gene Martin

Fibromyalgia Symptoms 101

I wanted to spend this week speaking about the many symptoms of Fibromyalgia. I have a list of 63 symptoms but today I thought that we would start with the 6 basic symptoms that almost everybody seems to complain about”. Today will discuss the first 3.

1 Pain: This can be anywhere from mild to severe and can affect any part of the body or even the entire body. some have complained pain in just the top half, where others complained of pain in the bottom half. I’ve also seen patients who have pain on only the right side or the left side of the body. The pain can move around and can affect everything from the top of the head to the bottom of the feet and everything in between.

The pain has been described as everything from deep and burning to more superficial sharp and stabbing and every combination of these. One thing is for sure, the pain can be so severe as to leave you bed ridden or milder where you can manage your day to day activities, though it is a struggle.

Why do you have this pain? The nervous system consists of 12 left cranial nerves, 12 right cranial nerves, 31 left spinal nerves and 31 right spinal nerves. Remember that the nerves and nervous system control everything in the body from muscles to joints to organs,,,,everything.As the nervous system is on hyper-drive, these nerves are consistently firing. The part of the nerves that carry pain signals are constant being stimulated and thus you have pain anywhere and everywhere in the body.

2 Insomnia: People with Fibromyalgia have great difficulty sleeping. It might take 2 or 3 hours before they fall asleep, they might twist and turn, get out of bed, get back into bed and perhaps they finally do fall asleep. The problem is that they wake up in an hour or two and cannot get back to sleep. The sleep they do manage tends to be very superficial and they rarely achieve that deep phase of R.E.M. (Rapid Eye Movement), which is so important for our health. they thus wake up more tired than when they first fell asleep.

Why is sleep so difficult? Another part of the nervous system is the Autonomic Nervous system that controls all the automatic functions in the body, the things you don’t willfully control. (Digestion, Fear, Respiration etc.) This is than divided into the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic systems. The Sympathetic system is designed to protect you from danger. It secretes Adrenalin to give you that extra energy to remove yourself from harms way.

Because the nervous system is on over-drive, the Sympathetic system is constant producing Adrenalin, much more than the body needs. Due to this over supply of adrenalin, a person with Fibromyalgia finds it almost impossible to sleep.

3 Chronic Fatigue: This is the feeling of being tired all the time. The irony being that you can’t sleep (see symptom 2).
The three most common phrases I hear is that:

I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck!

I feel like I have the Flu!

I feel like I’ve been beat up!

Even the most mundane chores become an effort, you feel like you’re dragging yourself through life and the fatigue does not stop.

Why do you have Fatigue? Simply because you are sleep deprived. When you can’t sleep or don’t get the proper sleep, you are going to feel this tremendous fatigue. Some of the other things related to fatigue and sleep deprivation are hypersensitivity to sounds, smells and taste.

Next Fibromyalgia Symptoms 101 Part 2: The 3 other most common symptoms.

Why I am a Fibro Advocate!

I’ve been asked on numerous occasions why I’m such an advocate for Fibro sufferers.

I’ve been practicing for almost 27 years and during that time, I’ve heard and seen horror story after horror story about Fibromyalgia. Yes, Fibromyalgia has been around for a long time, though it was given different names, the most common being Fibrocitis. The names might have changed over the years, but the symptoms have remained the same. The toll this illness has taken on people, their families, their loved ones and everybody in their circle has been enormous. The amount of money spent on pain meds, sleep meds, doctors visits etc etc is in the billions, yet people with Fibromyalgia are still stick

Medicine has yet to come up with effective therapy’s and all the drugs marketed for Fibro sufferers are really drugs that had been developed to treat other illnesses. The most common that you hear about all the time is Lyrica, which is really an anti-seizure medication. Cymbalta is an anti-depressive medication in the same universe as Prozac and Wellbutrin.

I’ve seen so much suffering that I finally decided that something has to be done and this is why I’ve become an advocate. I believe that the public has to be educated and aware as to what Fibromyalgia really is. Ask the average person and they haven’t a clue, or perhaps they’ll think that it’s that illness that causes pain. This is not good enough and just touches the surface.

I, therefore, spent much of my free time, speaking at seminars to the public about Fibromyalgia. I explain what is happening in the body, go over the many symptoms (probably 60 or more), give the public an idea of what research is really being done (too little) and lastly how Fibromyalgia has become a multi-billion dollar industry. (You just need to watch the television for 1/2 hour and chances are you’ll see an ad (many times more) for a Fibro medication.)

The sad part is that though some of these meds might be of some limited help, there is no med available that can stop this illness. Most are suffering, many horribly!

People and patients need to be educated, they can then start shouting louder at our law makers and start making noise. The louder we yell, the more we will be listened to and the more money will go into finding a solution for Fibro.

Next week: Fibro Symptoms 101