In general, doctors are very confused about fibromyalgia. It is simply managed as a group of symptoms to be numbed and suppressed. Often, you may be given useless or vague advice. “Take this antidepressant and just try and exercise. Maybe just try to take a walk. Swimming is great exercise. The more you stay active, the better.” Does this sound familiar? (Oh, wow. Thanks, doc. What useful information! Next time you have the flu, let’s go walk a mile, shall we?) Be patient with your doctor(s) if you can. Even though this type of advice is annoying, it helps to remember that most doctors mean well. Truly, they do—even though it does not make their advice any more helpful or less insulting at times, unfortunately.
Doctors “treat” fibromyalgia by throwing drugs at it. These drugs (at best) cover up symptoms. In the case of fibromyalgia, it’s usually far from the perfect solution, although it may provide some relief. I have yet to meet any patient who told me that he or she, or someone they knew, was “cured” by any drug. Furthermore, every drug has side effects. That being said, I understand that drugs may feel like your only saving grace right now and that for some of you they are lifesavers. They may make the difference between you getting out of bed in the morning and (kind of) living a halfway normal life, and not.
Often, your family and friends don’t understand. It doesn’t matter how much they love you or how supportive they are. At the end of the day, living with fibromyalgia is like living on an island all alone. No one can climb inside your body and feel the pain you suffer from every day or understand how life-robbing it is.
Most of the medical profession (and therefore the public) believe that it is an incurable condition and a life sentence of pain. Often, when people do get better, against all odds, they may be ostracized by the online fibromyalgia community or local support groups as not having had “real” fibromyalgia in the first place, since recovery is not believed to be possible.
Fibromyalgia patients themselves often do not fully understand all the symptoms that may be associated with their condition. Knee replacements, anyone? Shoulder problems? Can’t stand the noise of a baby crying? Yes. It may all be related.
Of course, once again, the symptoms of fibromyalgia make this condition extremely puzzling and tricky to treat. Let’s look at the reasons that may cause your symptoms to appear mysterious. Has the electricity to your house ever shut off? Did you happen to notice that it affected several appliances? You couldn’t dry your hair with a hairdryer. You couldn’t use the microwave oven. All the lights were off. Did you run around like a mad person, trying to fix each appliance? No! That would be ludicrous and a giant waste of time. Clearly, it was a power problem. You knew that once the power kicked back in, everything would most likely work again.
Think of your nervous system as your electrical system. In your case, it isn’t connecting. This is not merely my opinion but also based on some sound research. One of the lead investigators studying the role of the central nervous system (CNS) in fibromyalgia, Dr. Daniel Clauw, remarked that not only do abnormalities in the brain and central nervous system seem to “spillover” into the body and produce the collection of symptoms we know as fibromyalgia, but there is also evidence that injuries, illnesses, or other major stressors in the body can overwhelm the brain and CNS and cause different symptoms.
This system was designed to help your body fight to stay alive when your survival is being threatened. Think of a caveman in hand-to-paw combat with a saber-toothed tiger. This portion of your nervous system responds very quickly (think zero to ninety in a few seconds) since one usually doesn’t have time to calmly ponder one’s response to a life-threatening situation.
When your life is being threatened and your body gets ready to fight to ensure its survival, every small bit of energy spent is carefully considered. Nothing is wasted. Energy will be rerouted away from systems that do not concern themselves with short-term survival, to where it can be used more readily to fight an immediate threat. For example, blood will flow away from the digestive tract and skin ito be rationed out to the lungs and muscles. It is more important under those circumstances to be able to fight using your muscles and to breathe hard and fast, as your body needs oxygen.
Speaking of oxygen, the bronchioles (small air passages) in the lungs will open up, which allows for more oxygen into the blood. At the same time, the heart will beat faster. Another physiological change in the body is that the pupils will dilate, allowing more light to enter the eyes. The adrenal glands on top of the kidneys will pump adrenalin in case you need extra motivation besides fear to fight. It will also make all the sphincters (think of pressure valves) in the body, like the urinary sphincter, contract and close tight.
There probably isn’t the equivalent of a saber-toothed tiger chasing you every day. However, your brain can not distinguish fear and stress from actual life-threatening situations. Additionally, when we discuss emotional stress, a very old traumatic event can run in a continuous “loop” in the subconscious mind. The brain cannot distinguish between this old memory and present danger. The old memory almost acts like a computer virus, messing with the software in your nervous system. Your brain does not know that it isn’t happening anymore.
When a person suffers a neck injury following, for example, a fall or car accident affecting the brain stem directly or indirectly, the sympathetic nervous system will become overexcited, affecting the whole body. This will cause your sympathetic nervous system, or “fight or flight” response, to be stuck in the “on” position day in and day out—and if your sympathetic nervous system is stuck all the time, your parasympathetic nervous system is turned off. This will lead to the classic symptoms of fibromyalgia and other autonomic dysfunction or WAD (whiplash-associated dysfunctions).
We have found that the most effective approach to treating this condition is to treat the central nervous system itself.
Over the years, we have introduced numerous tools and techniques to perfect our program and help our fibromyalgia patients achieve healing. Our approach is focused on nervous system rehabilitation consisting of vagus nerve stimulation, neuromuscular re-education with patented technology, magnetic resonance technology, viral and bacterial analysis, and treatments, and liver detoxification. These modalities are designed to enhance one another synergistically to restore balance to the central nervous system. When the nervous system is given the tools that it needs to achieve a state of balance once again, signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia tend to resolve. You are not broken beyond repair. Your body is amazing and capable of healing!
Start your patient journey with the Spero Clinic's neurologic rehabilitation program.