Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease affecting the central nervous system. It causes widespread pain and tenderness in the soft tissues and muscles, as well as fatigue, and tenderness among other symptoms. Individuals affected by this disease are more sensitive to pain. Fibromyalgia is known as an “invisible illness” since you feel terrible but can appear fine. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates that 4 million US adults, about 2% of the adult population, are affected by it.
Who is commonly affected by it?
The condition commonly affects middle-aged individuals and people with systemic lupus, ankylosing spondylitis, viral infection, and rheumatoid arthritis. It affects women twice as much and can run in families. Fibromyalgia has also been linked to individuals who have gone through traumatic or stressful events or those who are suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose because there are no specific test exists to diagnose it yet. It usually takes numerous visits to various health care providers since its symptoms are also typical in a variety of different illnesses.
What doctors are only able to do is rule out other possible explanations of the symptoms – a method called differential diagnosis. Doctors look into the patient’s medical history and conduct physical examinations, X-rays, and bloodwork.
As mentioned Fibromyalgia symptoms have to do with pain and it can range from mild, requiring no medical treatment, to severe, causing crippling widespread pain and fatigue. The pain can be felt all over the body, along with stiffness, numbness, or tingling in the hands and feet. Pain can also be felt in the jaw or the face and can be accompanied by temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ).
With this discomfort also comes sleep problems, specifically non-restorative sleep. According to certain polysomnographic data, patients with the syndrome are awake during the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) stages of the sleep cycle, and as a result, get less slow-wave sleep.
Sleep and fibromyalgia are interrelated. Sleep deprivation can increase the broad feelings of pain and sensitivity brought on by fibromyalgia, just as painful symptoms can prevent patients from getting adequate rest. A person’s pain tolerance can also be lowered by lack of sleep. As a result, fibromyalgia symptoms can develop in otherwise healthy persons due to a lack of sleep or poor sleep quality. Headaches including migraines are also common, not to mention irritable bowel syndrome.
It is understandable how individuals suffering from this chronic condition are subject to depression and anxiety. Adults with fibromyalgia are three times as likely than those without the condition to have severe depression. It is critical to screen for depression and treat it.
Although the overall mortality rate among adults with fibromyalgia is similar to the general population – death rates from suicide and injuries are higher for those who suffer from the condition.
Fibromyalgia can greatly affect the quality of life in women. The condition can impair every aspect of your life, even the most basic everyday routines. You might be astonished at how difficult seemingly routine tasks have become for you.
Fibromyalgia treatment can be difficult, but it usually involves a personalized multidisciplinary strategy aimed at minimizing severe symptoms. Initial treatment should include patient education, treating comorbidities, and instituting exercise regimens.
Fibromyalgia treatments include both medication and self-care strategies to minimize the symptoms and improve the patient’s general health. Unfortunately, not a single treatment can work for all symptoms, but a variety of treatment strategies can be tried and have a cumulative effect.
While western medication is the most mainstream type of treatment for fibromyalgia, however as a holistic healing professional, I can’t ignore the negative impact of long-term use of Western medicine on our bodies either. I’ll be including alternative treatments below for those who want to take a more natural, or integrative approach to manage their condition.
Pain relievers or OTC pain relievers (like ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen sodium) may be prescribed by doctors to reduce inflammation and reduce muscle pain to also help patients relax and sleep better.
Antidepressants on the other hand not only reduce pain but also help with fatigue. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also approved the first anticonvulsants or anti-seizure medication pregabalin (Lyrica), to treat the diseases. It can be effective in dealing with nerve pain.
Antidepressants and anticonvulsants however have some possible unfavorable side effects such as weight gain and nausea. Seizure medications may also cause swelling and dry mouth.
Physical therapy may be used to aid with pain issues. It may also aid in the reduction of stiffness and weariness. Physical therapists use a variety of tools in addition to exercises, such as deep tissue massage and ice and heat packs for hydrotherapy. Physical therapists can utilize these techniques to assist fibromyalgia patients in using their muscles, stretching for flexibility, and moving their joints through range-of-motion exercises
Yoga is one of the most preferred types of exercise for fibromyalgia sufferers (FMS). People with FM who participated in yoga courses had a better mood and reduced pain and exhaustion. Research studies have shown that yoga is a gentle way to stretch muscles and loosen up joints, it also improves balance and strength through time. It’s also a good exercise for the heart and mind. My functional medicine practitioner calls it an exercise for the endocrine system, which complements nicely with Reiki treatments.
Yoga classes teach different relaxation techniques and integrate meditation. Just make sure to inform the instructor about your condition so that the poses can be adjusted as needed.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture
In TCM, fibromyalgia is caused due to disharmony in the liver and spleen. Despite the absence of clinical evidence supporting its usefulness in treating illnesses such as fibromyalgia, acupuncture therapy could still be recommended as a viable choice for chronic pain treatment. Acupuncture is generally thought to be risk-free. However there may be some minor pain involved for those who are extra sensitive as acupuncture needles which are thin, sterile, and single-use needles need to be applied and pierced into your body to promote the energy flow. These needles are placed throughout different areas of your body and stay in for roughly 20-30 minutes depending on your practitioner’s discretion. Sometimes an infra-red heat lamp is placed on top of specific areas where the needles are placed to accelerate the process. Generally, acupuncture is quite painless if you work with a skilled acupuncturist.
Energy Healing such as Reiki and Intuitive Healing for Fibromyalgia
Reiki and Intuitive Energy Healing focus on supporting and healing your endocrine system, which includes the liver and spleen. Reiki is supportive by gently releasing general energy blocks that may be contributing to the condition. Reiki is a popular form of safe, energy healing that works effectively on its own while also being a complementary and holistic healing energy treatment that works alongside Western medical care. So you do not have to miss out on the benefits the latter option can also give.
Intuitive Healing, which is a specific practice of emotional energy release, and is an advanced form of Reiki focuses on releasing emotions that may be stuck in certain parts of our body, causing fibromyalgia. Through Intuitive Healing sessions, we will identify where that stress and trauma came from so you can be extra aware and mindfully be able to heal that part of you. For example, deep layers of anger in the liver over time create inflammation and slowly spread around the body, which may be a big factor in contributing to or leading to fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a very difficult condition to have and unfortunately can also be a difficult condition to treat.
The anxiety the patients could feel when nothing seems to be helping, despite being told to take medications, exercise more, eat healthily, and possibly seek counseling or CBT can be very overwhelming. As a result, many people seek different, more holistic treatments. Reiki and Intuitive Healing both support the stress and emotions from having and living with fibromyalgia, calming the body internally to not let additional negative emotions add to the existing issue. Reiki is great for managing the condition, whereas Intuitive Healing aims to address and heal the condition itself. Both Reiki and Intuitive Healing sessions are services we offer remotely so anyone with this condition can access them from anywhere in the world, and of course, in-person sessions are also available for those suffering from fibromyalgia and living in Hong Kong.
Since fibromyalgia is also linked to stress and traumatic events the benefits of energy healing against fibromyalgia can be powerful. The negative emotions from the stress and traumatic events that are stuck in the body can be isolated and pointed out before finally released from the body so they will no longer hold control of your well-being.
Release and let go of the negative emotions affecting your emotional body and your physical body. These natural treatments harmonize both the physical and emotional aspects of yourself and accelerate the body’s natural healing process.