Fibromyalgia is a complicated condition. It is characterized by widespread pain in the soft tissues of the body, especially in the muscles, tendons and ligaments. Other common symptoms are fatigue, stiffness, digestive trouble, irritability, insomnia and mild to moderate depression. Anyone who suffers from this condition knows the frustration associated with trying to find the means to deal with all of these symptoms. Many doctors still are unsure how to effectively bring relief to fibromyalgia sufferers. In fact, some health care professionals still doubt the existence of fibromyalgia. Ask any one of the estimated six million fibromyalgia sufferers if the condition is real and they will say YES! A recent study cited in December of 2006 in the Current Pain and Headache Reports stated that the condition is real and is characterized by altered pain processing in the central nervous system.
The reason this is good news is that it now gives us an understanding of how we can help bring relief to people who suffer with this condition. The chemicals that interact with the central nervous system are called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are the messengers from your brain to your body that influence energy levels, pain perception, healthy sleep, healthy mood and emotion. They are also very important for your adrenal glands, which are your stress handling glands. People with fibromyalgia often have an imbalance of many of the neurotransmitters and the adrenal hormones.
Substance P is a neurotransmitter that causes us to feel pain. Fibromyalgia sufferers tend to have more of this chemical or more receptor sites for it. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps modulate sleep, mood and appetite. This is often low in people with fibromyalgia. Epinephrine, Nor-epinephrine and DHEA are all stress handling chemicals that tend to be low in patients with fibromyalgia. The symptoms of these chemicals being low can include things like fatigue, lack of focus, lowered metabolism, digestive issues and lack of motivation as well as low mood. GABA is a neurotransmitter that is often imbalanced and is very important for sleep and feeling calm and relaxed. This is just a brief overview of a few of the neurotransmitters and hormones that may be out of balance in fibromyalgia patients.
It is now possible to test for both neurotransmitter levels as well as adrenal hormone levels utilizing urinalysis and saliva testing. Bringing these chemicals back into balance can be achieved through non drug solutions using specific amino acid support as well as nutritional support of the adrenal glands. This protocol generally needs to be in place for 12 to 16 weeks. Many people feel significant and lasting relief in as little as one to two weeks. Though adrenal fatigue and fibromyalgia are not the same thing, they are almost always related. Treating adrenal fatigue and neurotransmitter imbalance often can significantly diminish symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Dr. Karla Parkhurst DC, ABAAHP
Lakeshore Wellness Center