First an important announcement
Starting Tuesday December 6, 2011 A Telephone Support group.
The telephone support group will be a safe, warm and supportive environment for people to talk about their issues with Fibro or anything for that matter. You’ll be able to meet people, make new friends and be with non-judgmental people. The tone will be uplifting, affirmative and positive. The idea is to learn, to find some joy and to leave feeling good about yourselves. I (Dr. Martin) will also speak on a topic (can be your suggestions and or my choice) and there will be plenty of time for questions and answers. The nice part is that after the teleconference, an audio copy will be e-mailed to you within 24 hours. The hours will be:
Every Tuesday: 6 PM Pacific
7 PM Mountain
8 PM Central
9 PM Eastern
Send an e-mail to email@example.com and I’ll fill you in on the rest of the details. Remember that with cell phones or Skype, even long distance calls are pennies these days. Take a positive step.
Every day, I find myself being asked the same questions about Fibro, again and again. These questions are asked at my classes I give, at my workshops, on Facebook, during support groups I lead, on my website and from the many phone calls I receive daily. I. therefore decided to use today’s blog to answer some of these questions.
1 Does Fibromyalgia really exist? If you have fibro, you know that at times someone intimated that there was no such thing as fibro or that it was in your head or even more insulting, that you were just lazy. Many times this comes purely from ignorance as the general public and many doctors, for that matter, haven’t a clue as to what fibro is or what the symptoms are. Some even say that Fibromyalgia is just a combination of symptoms, but not a real illness. This is absolutely and positively wrong.
Fibromyalgia is an illness, the same way Diabetes is an;illness, the same way Multiple Sclerosis is an illness etc. The research is very clear on this topic and it is known for a fact that Fibromyalgia and all its symptoms are caused by an over active nervous system meaning that the central nervous system is firing on overdrive all the time. The constant firing of the nervous system causes all the various symptoms that people with Fibromyalgia deal with constantly. Each symptom can be traced to this.
2 Well, What are the symptoms? The answer to this can take pages to go through, but the shortened version is as follows. The six most common symptoms that almost everybody with fibro experiences are: Pain, Fatigue Insomnia, Depression Gastro-Intestinal problems and Insomnia. This is not to say that these are all the symptoms, not by a long shot, just the Big Six, as I call them. I’ve accumulated a list of 60 other symptoms that also affect people with fibro, some , the majority of the patients, some only 80 percent of the patients, some only 50 percent of the patients etc. These symptoms can also come and go at times, or get a little better or much worse. However, the Big Six seem to be constantly present.
3 What Medical test can I do to determine if I have Fibromyalgia? Unfortunately at this time, there is not a test, either blood, urine or an imaging test (X-ray, MRI etc) that can test for fibro. It is very important to remember that just because a test does not exist, in no way means that fibro does not exist. the test has not been found yet.
4 Why do doctor push on tender points in the body as a way of determining Fibromyalgia.? When doctors find these so called tender points, they are really finding pockets of lactic acid (Trigger Points), which are common with fibro. The problem is that these points are also common win the general public, some with muscle illnesses and others who are totally healthy. Recent studies have shown the 12 to 18 point tenderness test as pretty useless as a diagnostic aid. In fact scientists who did the studies, loudly claimed that this tenderness test should be abandoned. I agree with this, again as trigger points are very common and can also be the result of over exercise, falls and traumas and other things. It should not be used as an indicator for fibro and can lead to too many false diagnoses.
5 If I suspect that I have Fibromyalgia, what type of doctor should I see? One of the problems with Fibromyalgia is that there is so much false and misleading information out there, not only among the public but among doctors as well. Since so man doctors understand so little about this illness, it really does make it difficult to find a practitioner who can help you. Normally, you would think that a Rheumatologist would be the right choice, but unfortunately, this is not always the case. Many times a general practitioner or any other type of doc might be much more well versed in the ins and outs of Fibro. It also should be understood that there is no specialty per se in Fibromyalgia, Many docs receive their info from a weekend seminar and probably more commonly from a pharmaceutical representative who comes to the office selling the newest medications, Of course the goal of the salesperson is for the doc to prescribe this or that med. It is estimated that every doctor with a DEA license (to write prescriptions), receives at least two and many times more visits from these reps per week.
6 How should I than find a doctor who can help me? The best answer I can give you is to go by trial and error. If you know someone with fibro who has an excellent doctor, than that’s the way to go. If not you can ask your doctor for referrals, but remember than many times a referral can be a friend of the doc. Yes, it still is in many cases a good ol’ boys network, so be aware of this. If you do go to a doc and are treated rudely or not given the attention you need, leave, and let the doc know the reason. I like the words: “I’m firing you”. Again it is important to let the doc know why you are so unhappy, if not our medical system will never change for the better.
7 What drugs have been developed for Fibromyalgia? Sadly, to date there are no drugs that have been developed for Fibromyalgia. The three most common meds you hear about are Lyrica (really an anti-seizure medication), Cymbalta (an anti-depressive medication) and now Savella (also an anti-depressive medication). these three meds had already existed and were used for other illnesses, thus to date, there have been no new meds for fibro.
More questions and answers next time!
Remember our telephone support group starting in December, for info: e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Gene Martin
Fibromyalgia relief Center of the Bay Area