Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Syndrome

Fibromyalgia is a seriously debilitating disease that produces widespread pain, disturbed sleep, and overall exhaustion. People with fibromyalgia experience overall body pain, particularly in their muscles, ligaments and tendons. Patients also typically live with a general feeling of exhaustion.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
  • Widespread pain. Pain related to fibromyalgia usually has been present for at least three months and is constant. The pain associated with fibromyalgia is described as a constant dull ache.
  • Why?
    • Many times what we have found is that over-firing of specific areas of the brain (usually mesencepahlon) cause hormone cascades that release catecholamines and norepinephrine, which stimulate type C nociceptive pain fibers. With these turned on it takes little input to cause the pain cascade in the body.
  • Fatigue. People with fibromyalgia wake up tired, even after a full night of sleep. They may also have their sleep disturbed by pain and have other sleep related disorders like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome.
  • Why?
    • Again what happens with this brain over-firing (mesencepahlon) it activates the mescencephalic reticular activating system. This systems highest firing rate is a 3 a.m. and the lowest firing rate is at 3 p.m. This causes insomnia at night because you cannot sleep (turn off your brain) and fatigue during the day because the brain is decreasing it’s firing.
  • Cognitive difficulties. Also known as “fibro fog” because the sufferer has a decreased ability to concentrate, focus, and pay attention.
  • Why?
    • Many fibromyalgia patients can pin point some kind of a stress (emotional or physical) that proceeded their symptoms. The hormonal cascade that gave rise to their current state is also the reason why they are still suffering. When the body has a heavy stress load it activates the adrenal medulla to release cortisol. If you have systemically high cortisol because your body is constantly stressed (fibromyalgia) it is bad for your body because cortisol is toxic to the brain and affects both memory and focus.
  • Other problems. Many people who have fibromyalgia also may experience headaches and depression.
  • Why?
    • The obvious reason for depression is that fibromyalgia changes brain chemistry and firing patterns in the brain itself. While migraines are related to the over-firing mesencepahlon causing dilation of blood vessels in the brain irritating the nerve mesh around them causing the headaches.
The way a person is diagnosed with fibromyalgia has changed. The method used in the past was a check that evaluated 18 different points on the body and whether they were painful with heavy pressure. Now a diagnosis can be made if a person reports widespread pain (To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist) for more than three months— with no underlying medical condition that could cause the pain.
The Problem
Unfortunately, the medical model to treat fibromyalgia is with heavy medications that have serious side-effects a make you feel uncomfortable instead of looking for the underlying cause of the disease.
The Answer
This is why we use functional medicine and functional neurology protocols at our office. With functional medicine we do extensive testing to find out WHY you feel the way you do and what is needed to support the body back to health. Also, as you can see with fibromyalgia a lot of it has to do with brain functionality, which is why we specifically use functional neurology protocols to change the brain’s firing. All chronic diseases are both Metabolic and Neurologic in orientation and have to be addressed as so in order for full healing to be achieved.