FIBROMYALGIA or ADRENAL FATIGUE?

It was a little over a decade ago and very few people had ever heard of Fibromyalgia. Nowadays it is very common but what is it really? Is it a specific disease entity or is it simply a “bucket diagnosis ,” made up disease to which doctors attribute many origins and contributors ranging from factors in our environment to autoimmune problems. Unfortunately, for "Fibromyalgia" sufferers the term is presently being used as "Arthritis" was used in the '60s and 70's. A term used as an umbrella diagnosis for a disease entity that is not understood.

Fibromyalgia is as real as the weight you gained during the holiday season. Fibromyalgia is not a term that people use to get on disability or a new found term to be thrown around at a cocktail party. But Fibromyalgia is probably not what you think it is or what you have been told it is. My goal is to not only show you what Fibromyalgia really is, but educate you about what it takes to manage this problem effectively.

In order for you to treat Fibromyalgia effectively it is important for you to step outside of the bad habits, fast foot and allopathic medical box that perhaps you have been living. So the first change to make is to recognize that a change in lifestyle is needed so you can manage and defeat this problem that has consumed you life, every waking moment of it. It is going to require commitment and some real effort on your part if you want to have any hope of success. If you are not willing to at least contemplate life outside "The Box," read no further. But, if you are interested in finding out what Fibromyalgia really is, as well as creating a plan to defeat it please read on.

WHAT IS FIBROMYALGIA?

Fibromyalgia:

Fibro - Fibrous or Knotted

My or Myo - Muscles or Fascia

Algia - PAIN

So is Fibromyalgia truly just painful knotted muscles or something much deeper?

Ask any doctor about Fibromyalgia, and you're sure to get a plethora of answers and each one different from the last. However, a quick review of the Medical Literature tells us that the symptoms of Fibromyalgia have been around for a very long time. In fact, there are those who believe that the Biblical "Job" was afflicted with Fibromyalgia."I, too, have been assigned months of futility, long and weary nights of misery. When I go to bed, I think, 'When will it be morning?' But the night drags on, and I toss till dawn… And now my heart is broken. Depression haunts my days. My weary nights are filled with pain as though something were relentlessly gnawing at my bones." - Job 7:3 & 4; 30:16 & 17


DIAGNOSING FIBROMYALGIA

As you may have figured out from the aforementioned,

Fibromyalgia is currently named according to its symptoms instead

of according to its cause.

Because standard medical testing (Imaging, Blood Work, etc) does not provide a ready diagnosis, the following are the only diagnostic criteria that are considered when doctors determine whether or not a person has Fibromyalgia. I have simplified some of the verbiage:

History of widespread pain that has been present for at least three months. Note that pain is considered “widespread” when all of the following are present:

  • Pain on both sides of the body - right and left.

  • Pain must be both above and below the waist.

  • Axial skeletal pain Head, chest, spine and sacrum.


Official Definition of Fibromyalgia: Pain on palpation with the fingers, must be present in at least 11 of the following 18 tender point sites: Note that the points listed are shown above.

  • Suboccipital: The muscle directly below that base of the skull. This area often causes pain to travel up the back of the head and even into the forehead region.

  • Low cervical: The lower part of the neck.

  • Supraspinatus: At or slightly above the upper part of between the shoulder blades.

  • Lateral epicondyle: Located in the outer portion of the elbow and sometimes on the inside of the elbow.

  • Gluteal or Buttocks: Located in upper outer more pronounced part of the buttocks.

  • Greater trochanter: Located above the thigh and lateral to the pelvis which is the part that gives the hips their shape.

  • Knee: The inner portion of the knee.

Relative finger tip palpatory pressure that is applied should be performed with an approximate force of 10 pounds. We have pressure devices to accurately demonstrate a force of 10 pounds of pressure to the area in question. To be diagnostic for fibromyalgia, points must be painful at palpation, not just "tender".


IS FIBROMYALGIA A REAL DISEASE?

Sometime ago when I learned about the diagnostic manner and approach that doctors were diagnosing Fibromyalgia, I wondered where did this seemingly simplistic and rather vague set of diagnostic criteria come from?

In 1976, a group of Rheumatologists (arthritis specialists) had a meeting in Tampa, Florida to discuss the rising epidemic of patients that had both chronic pain and chronic fatigue. Not too much came of the meeting other than naming this set of symptoms, Fibromyalgia. This was the beginning of Pandora's Box and thus presented its own unique problem and in 1990, The American College of Rheumatology stepped in and saved the day with the diagnostic criteria listed previously. This allowed for more tax dollars to be spent doing Fibromyalgia research, more people to be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, and best of all for the HMO's, and PPO's that employ almost 100% of today's medical community the chance to make way more dollars treating Fibromyalgia. This brought hundreds of millions of dollars in research grants, doctoral dissertations and drug research not to mention hundreds of millions of dollars in profits to Big Pharma namely the makers of Lyrica (Pregablin) and Neurontin (Gabapentin).


DIAGNOSTIC CHALLENGES

For many people Fibromyalgia is all so very real and it is a complete and total living, breathing, nightmare.

Fibromyalgia is considered a controversial diagnosis for good reason. Most of this has to do with of the lack of scientific consensus concerning its cause. There is actually a tremendous debate over using its current diagnostic criteria and even over whether objective diagnosis is possible at all. Why is this? Why doesn't the doctor just take an x-ray or order a blood test? With the severity of symptoms that most people suffer with, it seems like it should be so simple.

With Fibromyalgia, standard medical laboratory testing and diagnostic imaging all appear normal. Other than the tender points listed above, there is usually complete absence of any sort of objective diagnostic findings (fatigue is considered a subjective finding). This is why many members of the medical community question whether Fibromyalgia is a disease at all. On top of this, many of the symptoms of Fibromyalgia mimic those of other conditions such as arthritis, depression, joint pain, muscle pain, impaired memory, chronic fatigue, endocrine problems, etc.

Please note that I am not for one moment insinuating that Fibromyalgia is not real. For many people Fibromyalgia is all so very real and it is a complete and total living and breathing nightmare.

HowevAmerica's rapidly expanding disability seeking crowd. Unfortunately, for those really suffering from Fibromyalgia the validity of their claim is often questioned, understandably so, or scoffed at. The American Medical Association (AMA) first recognized the symptoms of Fibromyalgia as a disability-causing illness in 1987 and many people have figured this out. Gaming the system has become an easy thing for those who understand the diagnostic criteria, which can be found all over the internet. Once again I have seen many people desiring treatment and cure for this terrible grouping of maladies and every single person that came through my doors were sincere in wanting resolution for their pains and problems. So let me reassure you that Fibromyalgia is real. It's just that it is not what you think it is, or what your doctor has told you it is. Speaking of doctors, let's take a look at the opposite ends of the spectrum as far as what the medical profession saying about Fibromyalgia.

"So let me reassure you that Fibromyalgia is real. It's just that it is not what you think it is, or what your doctor has told you it is. "

Dr. Conklin Fibromyalgia & Neuropathy Lecture

WHAT DO THE MEDICAL EXPERTS SAY ABOUT FIBROMYALGIA?

There's an extremely wide range of opinions of physicians, ranging from it doesn't exist at all to it's a true illness. At a guess I'd say it's probably no better than fifty-fifty. In fact I was at a dinner with two other nerve-and-muscle neurologists and one was a believer and the other was what you could call an 'eye roller.John Kincaid, Neurology Professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine, and a former board member of the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine. Taken from Why Fibromyalgia has a Credibility Problem.

"The diagnosis of fibromyalgia itself worsens the condition by encouraging people to think of themselves as sick and catalog their pain. These people live under a cloud, and the more they seem to be around the medical establishment, the sicker they get."Dr. Nortin Hadler, a Rheumatologist and professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina Taken from a 2008 article in the New York Times called, Drug Approved. Is Disease Real ? Dr. Hadler is right on the money with his second sentence. Shortly, I will show you how popular medical treatment actually makes fibromyalgia worse.

"Some of us in those days thought that we had actually identified a disease, which this clearly is not. To make people ill, to give them an illness, was the wrong thing. Dr. Frederick Wolfe, the director of the National Databank for Rheumatic Diseases and the lead author of the 1990 paper that first defined the diagnostic guidelines for Fibromyalgia. He says he has become cynical and discouraged about the diagnosis, and now considers the condition a physical response to stress, depression, and economic and social anxiety. Taken from a 2008 article in the New York Times called, Drug Approved. Is Disease Real?

Pertaining the validity of Fibromyalgia, if I took the time to perform a literature search, I could most likely come up with hundreds of valid arguments for opposing viewpoints. Although the vast majority of the health care community have not realized it yet, understanding Fibromyaliga is simple. Fixing it...is an all together different story. And you cannot even begin to grasp what it really is or how to effectively manage it without first understanding Adrenal Fatigue.


"... by accident or design the pharmaceutical community created a paradigm shift in the collective minds of the medical community" and "...found it more lucrative to manage the disease with medications.

ADRENAL FATIGUE: CONTRIBUTING FACTORS

WARNING: Adrenal Fatigue is NOT Addison's disease; a condition where the Adrenal Glands completely shut down Cortisol Production. Despite sub-clinical hypo-adrenia with its various stages being recognized as a distinct clinical syndrome since the turn of the 20th century, most doctors are unfamiliar with this condition for the simple reason that it is almost impossible to diagnose via traditional blood tests or diagnostic imaging. Normal blood tests are designed to detect pathological processes --- i.e. a severe and absolute deficiency of adrenal hormone. Addison's Disease afflicts only 1 in 25,000 people. Although adrenal hormones are low in the case of Adrenal Fatigue, they are still within the “normal” range and not low enough to warrant the diagnosis of any specifically named disease.

For the better part of forty years, the medical community has been playing a game with those who truly suffer from Fibromyalgia. How so? Any time a disease is named according to its symptoms as opposed to being named according to its cause, you automatically create tremendous confusion. Again, how so? You see, Fibromyalgia has been around as a medical diagnosis for decades. However, the problem was named according to cause, and not the symptoms such as: Adrenal Fatigue, Adrenal Stress, Adrenal Insufficiency, Adrenal Exhaustion, Sub-clinical Hypoadrenia, etc.

About four decades ago, the medical community started noticing an exponential increase in patients with the symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue. They had a big meeting. They changed the name of this group of symptoms from Adrenal Fatigue to Fibromyalgia. This in itself begs the question of why. Why would the medical and pharmaceutical communities feel that it was absolutely imperative to change the name of this health problem from Adrenal Fatigue to Fibromyalgia? Part of the problem had to do with what we talked about above; the fact that there were and still are no standard medical tests that can definitively diagnose Fibromyalgia.



But let's think about this situation a different way. If your doctor said to you, "Mrs. Smith, you have Adrenal Fatigue," what are the first two questions you would ask? Think for a moment ---- we would all ask the same two questions.

  • What does that mean?

  • How did my adrenal glands get fatigued?

  • How can we "unfatigue " my adrenal glands?

Plainly stated, if your doctor cannot provide objective tests to accurately measure adrenal function, or if your doctor has no real idea how your adrenal glands became fatigued in the first place how would he or she know how to 'unfatigue' the adrenal glands? Can they help you? Of course not! So what has happened? Somehow, by accident or design the pharmaceutical community created a paradigm shift in the collective minds of the medical community to think differently about the disease. Rather than do what is necessary to effectively treat Fibromyalgia they found it more lucrative to manage the disease with medications. I know that it sounds conspiratorial but please continue to read on.

The Pharmaceutical community realized that if they could simply change the name of the disease from something describing underlying cause, and shift it to something that instead described the symptoms (painful and knotted muscles), they could convince millions of patients that no one really understands this mysterious illness that is sweeping America in epidemic fashion and because there are no objective findings, the only hope as far as treatment is concerned is to address the symptoms with a list of medications for the rest of your life. And don't even bother looking for a cure, because there is none. Thus the birth of Fibromyalgia .

What was the payoff?

Far fewer people ultimately ask their doctors those pesky questions that cannot be answered in a 3 or 4 word sound bite and thus the pen comes out and the prescription is written for muscle relaxers, pain killers, NSAIDS, anti-depressants, nerve pills and corticosteroids and who knows what the latest Fibromyalgia drug du jour is or what it will be in the future. To truly grasp the intensity that Big Pharma is trying to separate you from your hard earned dollars, and the fact that they will go to any length to do so, read the story of Pfizer's nearly 3 Billion dollar fine, yes I said BILLION, for fraudulently touting two of their drugs; Neurontin and Lyrica for, among other things, Fibromyalgia. When I first heard of this, I figured that a fine of this magnitude would bankrupt the company. That is, until I found out that Pfizer brought in over 70 billion dollars that one year alone. Three billion dollars was just the price of doing business and money well spent, in their eyes.

THE BODY'S RESPONSE TO STRESS

When a person is stressed, the body reacts by mounting a response through the stimulation of the SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM. As we have discussed already, this is also called the neurological sympathetic “fight or flight” response as the body arms itself to face what it perceives as danger. When this happens, epinephrine (adrenaline) is produced and secreted by the adrenal medulla, and the hypothalamus-pituitary axis is stimulated to release ACTH, which in turn causes the adrenal cortex to increase production of the anti-stress hormone cortisol. In small amounts, Cortisol is a wonderful chemical for survival, however when you get overstressed over a long course of time, emotional stress, mental stress, physical stress, dietary stress, work stress, digestive stress, etc., your cortisol production tremendously increases.

When a person experiences chronic stress, the cortisol level may rise to such a high level that its production diminishes as the Adrenal Glands fatigue, and eventually the Adrenal Glands become exhausted. With chronic stress, there is a decrease in DHEA production levels with a rise in cortisol. As a result, the ratio of cortisol to DHEA increases. As with most hormonal systems, there is a negative feedback loop that limit the production of each hormone once it hits its target level. The same occurs in the case of cortisol, with one exception:

During protracted times of stress when the body perceives that its survival is at stake, the excessive cortisol output actually diminishes the feedback response. In other words, instead of the feedback loop dampening or shutting down cortisol production when the levels get high, the body actually reacts in a 180 degrees opposite manner. Because cortisol is the body's primary anti-stress hormone, the brain and other monitoring mechanisms will interpret a very high cortisol level as impending and life-threatening danger. When this happens, there is actually a blunting effect on the feedback loop allowing it to spin increasingly out of control. More cortisol will therefore be produced even though your body becomes increasingly resistant to it.


THE RESULT



  • Diminished Immune System Function

  • Frequent Infections/Colds/Illness/Ulcers

  • Hypothyroidism/ Low Energy Levels

  • High Blood Pressure

  • High Blood Sugar & the subsequent Reactive Hypoglycemia

  • Obesity: Particularly belly fat

  • High LDL Cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol)

  • Increase Incidence of Cardiovascular Disease (heart attacks, strokes, etc)

  • Female Hormonal Issues including Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome - PCOS

  • Depression / Anxiety

  • Muscle Weakness

  • Osteoporosis

  • Increased Pain Sensitivity

  • Acne


"...Cortisol is a wonderful chemical for survival, however when you get overstressed over a long course of time, emotional stress, mental stress, physical stress, dietary stress, work stress, digestive stress, etc..."


WHY DO I HAVE FIBROMYALGIA?

Why do I have Fibromyalgia? It's a great question. I would suggest that you first ask your doctor and see what kind of response you get. More than likely there will be some stuttering and stammering, and then some explanations about how no one really knows what Fibromyalgia really is, what causes it, or how to cure it. In fact, most doctors tell their patients that there is no hope of actually finding an answer for their Fibromyalgia. The only hope is possibly getting some symptomatic relief via Pharmaceuticals.

In a word, the reason that you have Fibromyalgia is "stress". I realize that this sounds like a huge cop out. It's not. Although mental or emotional stress can certainly be a large part of the picture, this "stress" can come in many other forms as well. What about the physical stress caused by burning the candle at both ends? What about dietary stress...or digestive stress? It is all but impossible to find a person who suffers with Fibromyalgia who is not seriously and pathologically addicted to sugar, soft drinks "sodas" , junk food, fast food, refined / processed carbs, etc. But that's not all!



CHRONIC FATIGUE

Detailed interviews of 40 Fibromyalgia patients from three countries (United States, Germany and France) showed that with Fibromyalgia, fatigue is the second most severe symptom after pain. The interviews were conducted with non-leading queries, such as "Tell me about your experience of having fibromyalgia?" The average duration of Fibromyalgia symptoms for the 40 participants was 6.6 years, the average age was 49 years and 70 percent of those affected were female. When asked about their experiences with Fibromyalgia, these were their reported symptoms:

  • pain (78%)

  • fatigue not relieved by sleep (43%)

  • sleeping difficulties (18%)

  • mobility problems (10%)

The participants then described their fatigue as follows:

  • Overwhelming feeling of tiredness (43%)

  • Fatigue not relieved by resting or sleeping (38%)

  • Fatigue that is not proportional to the amount of effort exerted (63%)

  • Feelings of weakness or heaviness (28%)

  • Difficult to get motivated or get moving (83%)

  • Difficulty doing the things they want or enjoy doing (60%)

  • Having to do things more slowly (38%)

  • Difficulty to concentrate, think, or remember things (Fibro-Fog) (68%)

TAKE THE TEST

Do you tire more easily?

Do you feel fatigued rather than energetic?

Are people annoying you by telling you "you don't look so good lately"?

Are you working harder & harder but accomplishing less?

Are you increasingly cynical and disenchanted?

Do you often experience unexplained sadness?

Are you forgetting appointments, deadlines or personal possessions more frequently?

Have you become more irritable?

Are you more short-tempered?

Are you more disappointed with people around you?

Are you seeing family members and close friends less frequently?

Are you too busy to do even routine things like make phone calls or read reports or send cards to friends?

Are you experiencing increased physical complaints (aches, pains, headaches, lingering colds)?

Do you feel disoriented when the activity of the day comes to a halt?

Is joy elusive?

Are you unable to laugh at a joke about yourself?

Does sex seem like more trouble than it's worth?

Do you have very little to say to people?


Fibromyalgia is associated with additional symptoms which seem distinct themselves but are actually included in "Fibromyalgia Syndrome ". Other than muscle pain and fatigue, fibromyalgia patients also may struggle with:

  • Headaches/Migraines

  • Irritable Bladder Syndrome

  • Leaky Gut Syndrome

  • Memory Problems known as Fibro Fog

  • Brain Dysfunctions

  • TMJ

  • Diffuse Pelvic Pain/Interstitial Cystitis

  • Noise Sensitivity / Light Sensitivity / Temperature Sensitivity

  • Restless Leg Syndrome / Neuropathy

  • Depression / Anxiety / Addictions (particularly sugar, junk food, bleached processed flour

  • Other Endocrine Problems such as blood sugar regulation issues, Estrogen Dominance, Adrenal Insufficiency, poor thyroid function

  • A Predisposition to Autoimmunity (Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, Eczema / Psoriasis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, etc.


CRITICAL FACT ABOUT AUTOIMMUNITY:

THE DISEASES LISTED HERE ARE TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN. IN OTHER WORDS, THEY ARE SIMPLY DIFFERENT MANIFESTATIONS OF THE SAME UNDERLYING HEALTH PROBLEM WHICH IS 'AUTOIMMUNITY'. IF YOU FAIL TO UNDERSTAND THE SERIOUSNESS OF AUTOIMMUNITY, AND DO NOT REALIZE THAT AUTOIMMUNITY IS NOT A PROBLEM WITH THE ORGAN/GLAND/TISSUE BEING ATTACKED THEN YOU WILL NOT UNDERSTAND HOW TO GET YOUR HEALTH PROBLEMS UNDER CONTROL! IT WILL TAKE SOME TIME AND MUCH EFFORT ON YOUR PART. GIVE US A CALL AND MAKE AN APPOINTMENT. WE TYPICALLY FAX OR EMAIL A 6-7 PAGE QUESTIONAIRE AND REQUEST THAT YOU BRING IN A RECORD OF PRIOR TREATMENT AND MEDICATIONS, ANY PREVIOUS MEDICAL AND DIAGNOSTIC RECORDS, INCLUDING DIAGNOSES THAT YOU MAY HAVE BEEN LABELED WITH, ALSO INCLUDE ANY AND ALL BLOOD WORK. I WISH YOU WELL AND I ENCOURAGE TO MUSTER UP THE COURAGE TO TACKLE THIS CONDITION HEAD ON AND REDISCOVER THE LIFE YOU ONCE HAD OR ALWAYS WANTED. WE CARE ABOUT OUR PATIENTS AND THAT INCLUDES YOU BECAUSE PEOPLE GENERALLY DON'T CARE ABOUT HOW MUCH YOU KNOW UNTIL THEY KNOW HOW MUCH YOU CARE.

Give us a call.