Fibromyalgia Syndrome, or FMS, is a common and chronic disorder characterized by widespread muscle pain, fatigue, and multiple tender points. The word fibromyalgia comes from the Latin term for fibrous tissue (fibro) and the Greek ones for muscle (myo) and pain (algia). Tender points are specific places on the body—on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, and upper and lower extremities—where people with fibromyalgia feel pain in response to slight pressure. Although fibromyalgia is often considered an arthritis-related condition, it is not truly a form of arthritis (a disease of the joints) because it does not cause inflammation or damage to the joints, muscles, or other tissues. Like arthritis, however, fibromyalgia can cause significant pain and fatigue, and it can interfere with a person's ability to carry on daily activities. Also like arthritis, fibromyalgia is considered a rheumatic condition.
You may wonder what exactly rheumatic means. Even physicians do not always agree on whether a disease is considered rheumatic. If you look up the word in the dictionary, you'll find it comes from the Greek word rheum, which means flux—not an explanation that gives you a better understanding. In medicine, however, the term rheumatic means a medical condition that impairs the joints and/or soft tissues and causes chronic pain. In addition to pain and fatigue, people who have fibromyalgia may experience sleep disturbances, morning stiffness, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, painful menstrual periods, numbness or tingling of the extremities, restless legs syndrome, temperature sensitivity, cognitive and memory problems (sometimes referred to as "fibro fog"), or a variety of other symptoms.
Fibromyalgia is a syndrome rather than a disease. Unlike a disease, which is a medical condition with a specific cause or causes and recognizable signs and symptoms, a syndrome is a collection of signs, symptoms, and medical problems that tend to occur together but are not related to a specific, identifiable cause. The causes of fibromyalgia are unknown, but there are probably a number of factors involved. Many people associate the development of fibromyalgia with a physically or emotionally stressful or traumatic event, such as an automobile accident. Some connect it to repetitive injuries. Others link it to an illness. People with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, are particularly likely to develop fibromyalgia. For others, fibromyalgia seems to occur spontaneously. Many researchers are examining other causes, including problems with how the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) processes pain. Some scientists speculate that a person's genes may regulate the way his or her body processes painful stimuli. According to this theory, people with fibromyalgia may have a gene or genes that cause them to react strongly to stimuli that most people would not perceive as painful. However, those genes—if they, in fact, exist—have not been identified.
A diagnosis is based on two criteria established by the ACR: a history of widespread pain lasting more than 3 months and the presence of tender points. Pain is considered to be widespread when it affects all four quadrants of the body; that is, you must have pain in both your right and left sides as well as above and below the waist to bediagnosed with fibromyalgia. The ACR also has designated 18 sites on the body as possible tender points. For a fibromyalgia diagnosis, a person must have 11 or more tender points. (1)
- Current treatments include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
- Complementary medicine
From a homotoxicological perspective fibromyalgia would fall under conditions of the locomotor system (chronic rheumatoid arthritis), a condition of matrix toxicity and would be classified under the impregnation phase. Conditions under the impregnation phase can be specifically defined as:
“Diseases in this phase are characterized by the presence of toxins which become a part of the connective tissue and the matrix, along with changes in the structural components as well as their functions. The typically increasingly severe symptoms and signs of this phase demonstrate damage to the cell organs.” (2)
Please see the homeopathic medicine webpage on this website for the six phase chart.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or CFS, is a debilitating and complex disorder characterized by profound fatigue that is not improved by bed rest and that may be worsened by physical or mental activity. Persons with CFS most often function at a substantially lower level of activity than they were capable of before the onset of illness. In addition to these key defining characteristics, patients report various nonspecific symptoms, including weakness, muscle pain, impaired memory and/or mental concentration, insomnia, and post-exert ional fatigue lasting more than 24 hours. In some cases, CFS can persist for years.
The cause or causes of CFS have not been identified and no specific diagnostic tests are available. Moreover, since many illnesses have incapacitating fatigue as a symptom, care must be taken to exclude other known and often treatable conditions before a diagnosis of CFS is made. A great deal of debate has surrounded the issue of how best to define CFS. In an effort to resolve these issues, an international panel of CFS research experts convened in 1994 to draft a definition of CFS that would be useful both to researchers studying the illness and to clinicians diagnosing it. In essence, in order to receive a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome, a patient must satisfy two criteria: Have severe chronic fatigue of six months or longer duration with other known medical conditions excluded by clinical diagnosis; and concurrently have four or more of the following symptoms: substantial impairment in short-term memory or concentration; sore throat; tender lymph nodes; muscle pain; multi-joint pain without swelling or redness; headaches of a new type, pattern or severity; unrefreshing sleep; and post-exertional malaise lasting more than 24 hours. The symptoms must have persisted or recurred during six or more consecutive months of illness and must not have predated the fatigue.
- Physical therapy
- Lifestyle changes
- Pharmacolgic therapy
- Nutritional support
- Complementary medicine
According to the Centers for Disease Control there is no known cure. (3)
Chronic fatigue syndrome from a homotoxicological perspective would fall under conditions of the locomotor system and lymph system, which would be conditions of matrix toxicity and would be classified under the impregnation phase. From my experience there are several important steps that are necessary in treating these conditions which have overlapping characteristics. They are complex syndromes which require a step-wise, comprehensive approach. The simple application of pharmacologic agents is seldom enough, and in certain cases produces other unwanted symptoms.
The MultiCare Approach:
We have developed a comprehensive personalized approach to these syndromes which addresses not only the symptoms, but long term management, and oftentimes the resolution of the syndromes.
1. Patient Stabilization with the use of techniques that are effective in treating many facets of these symptoms. However, stabilization is actually the beginning step in the process of “peeling away” at the condition. These would include:
- Manual therapies
- Physical therapy modalities
- Acupuncture treatment (click here for the Mayo Clinic study)
- Initiate anti-homotoxic treatment
Patients will frequently be using medications such as sleeping pills, anti-depressants and/or pain medications concurrently. Our approach parallels the use of the patients allopathic medications; however, we encourage patients to speak with their medical physician about reducing the use of suppressive medications as improvement is noted.
2. Prescribing appropriate anti-homotoxic medicine(s), and physiologic regulating medicines to reduce matrix toxicity, promote regressive vicariation and maximize cellular respiration. In actuality this step began with patient stabilization since the administration of anti-homotoxic medications will not only address the symptoms of the patient, but also starts the detoxification process. This involves oral medications, topical products, and the application of biopuncture techniques. Biopuncture involves superficially injecting the medicines into the upper level of the skin. From a meridian energetic perspective FMS/CFS is as if the meridian system of the body has “short circuited.” The goals of biopuncture (and acupuncture) treatment is to address energetic “disorganization,” and restore the free flow of Qi. I’m excited about all of these techniques since they are effective in both the treatment of symptoms, and the long term management of these syndromes. Additionally, we are also focusing on ridding the body of long standing toxicity which impacts all systems of the body.
3. Live blood cell analysis & nutritional therapy for immune system support. The bowels support our immune system, and there is strong clinical evidence that the presence of Leaky Gut Syndrome can produce the symptomatic profile of FMS/CFS patients. Experts state that 70-80% of our immune system is in our gut. Oftentimes on live blood cell analysis we find evidence of poor nutritional status, the presence of fungi, yeasts and other microorganisms floating around in the blood sample. Once these are identified a nutritional program is put in place to cleanse the system and promote proper nutrition, hence maximizing the patients’ immunity. Follow-up screenings are performed to reveal the results of nutritional management.
4. Physiologic testing and treatment of co-morbidities such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, etc. FirstLine Therapy has many health benefits. It is important to realize that all of these treatments are used in varying combinations. It is important to take an orderly approach to the application of these tools. We will start with certain treatments and add others as the treatment process moves forward. The goal is the elimination of symptoms by promoting health, and not merely the suppression of symptoms. Once these goals are achieved we turn our attention toward the last part of our protocol, health maintenance. Please see our Firstline Therapy webpage for more information.
6. Health maintenance involves varying combinations of therapies with a focus on immune system support, and an ongoing approach to avoid "retoxification." This is a challenging aspect of care since we live in a world full of environmental toxins and stressors: the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, our hectic lives, not enough rest or exercise, etc. We are fortunate in that we have very safe natural medicines and supportive nutritional products to help maintain the treatment success. In addition, physical modalities are ideal to minimize musculoskeletal complaints.
For more information on the management of Fibromyalgia Syndrome and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome please contact our office for a consultation.
1. Excerpts from The National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, “Fibromyalgia” webpage: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Fibromyalgia/fibromyalgia_ff.asp
2. Reckeweg MD, Hans. Ordinatio Antihomotoxica et Materia Medica. Baden Baden Germany: Biologische Heilmittel Heel GmbH, 5th Revised English Edition, 2000
3. Excerpts from The Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” webpage: http://www.cdc.gov/cfs/cfsbasicfacts.htm