Stop Suffering From Fibromyalgia!
The following information on FMS is a selection from...
Fibromyalgia and the
by William B. Salt II, MD and Edwin H. Season, MD
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If you have unexplained body
pain or have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia—or suspect that you might
have fibromyalgia—then this book is for you. Furthermore, many people with
certain types of arthritis, like osteoarthritis, and soft tissue rheumatic
conditions also have fibromyalgia. If you have one or more of these conditions,
then this book can help you too.
of Pain and Symptoms
There is an epidemic of musculoskeletal pain and discomfort in the Western
countries, and the problem is getting worse. This pain involves the limbs
of the body, the back, and the neck. Many patients with widespread body
pain are diagnosed with what is called fibromyalgia. Disability from pain
and fibromyalgia is increasing every year in American industry.
Fibromyalgia is defined as widespread muscular aching, pain, and stiffness
associated with tenderness on palpation (pressing the finger or thumb)
on specified sites called trigger (tender) points located mainly in the
neck, back, and extremities. These trigger or tender points are illustrated
in Figure 1.
Other names for fibromyalgia include fibrositis, fibromyositis, and
generalized myofascial pain. Table 1 shows that the pain of fibromyalgia
TABLE 1 Location of Pain in Fibromyalgia
| Base of Skull
Is Myofascial Pain?
Myofascial pain syndrome is regional or localized fibromyalgia. Instead
of being widespread, the pain and tenderness are found in a localized
area of the body, the most common being the upper back, shoulders, and
lower back. The muscles are very tender to any pressure, and nodules
or lumps can often be felt within these muscles. The range of motion
of nearby joints may also be limited.
People Are Affected
A study published recently in a medical journal indicates that fibromyalgia
affects 2 percent of people in the United States. Fibromyalgia is ten
times more common in women than in men. There is a progressive increase
in the prevalence with age, such that about 7 percent of women 70 years
of age are affected (Arthritis and Rheumatism, 1995).
Most of the millions of Americans who suffer from fibromyalgia are women.
Fibromyalgia is the most common cause of generalized musculoskeletal pain
in women between the ages of 20 and 55. Fibromyalgia is the second most
common diagnosis made by rheumatologists. It is a major women's health
issue and receives considerable media attention in newspapers, magazines,
radio, and television.
Fibromyalgia has been described in most countries of the world. It does
not appear to be related to ethnicity and is not a problem related to
The muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints are not inflamed in fibromyalgia
as they can be in diseases like arthritis or myositis (inflamed muscles),
so it is important to make the distinction with proper diagnosis. However,
many people who do have these arthritic and inflammatory diseases also
have fibromyalgia, so they too can benefit from the treatment advice offered
in this book. Furthermore, it is a mistake to attribute the pain of fibromyalgia
to coexisting arthritis or x-ray findings, and you will learn how this
can interfere with healing.
Here are the consequences for many who suffer with fibromyalgia:
- Reduced sense of health and well-being
- Constant concerns related to the cause of the symptoms
- Sense of loss of control
- Reduced activity and exercise
- Difficulty with the activities of daily living
- Problems with interpersonal relationships with family, friends, and
- Disability with missed workdays
Fibromyalgia causes symptoms and discomfort ranging from mild and inconvenient
to severe, resulting in incapacitation and disability. Current evidence
shows that many patients with fibromyalgia lead restricted lives in multiple
areas, including reduced physical activity, missed social opportunities,
and lack of enjoyment of life. Many do not obtain much relief from current
health care practices and medications.
So Many People
with So Many Symptoms
Most people with fibromyalgia also have other unexplained symptoms, the
most common of which are difficulty sleeping and fatigue. There is a virtual
epidemic of body symptoms that have no apparent cause. In such cases,
all of the tests—including physical examination, blood tests, x-rays,
endoscopic examinations, and biopsy results—are normal. These symptoms
that cause people to consult with doctors and that cannot be explained
by tests are called "functional," "psychosomatic," or "somatization symptoms."
The symptoms listed in Table 2, including those of fibromyalgia, are
the most common symptoms for which people consult with primary care doctors.
Yet, a specific disease accounting for these symptoms can only be found
in 10 percent to 20 percent of patients, or in one to two of every ten
patients who consult with a doctor!
Table 2 Most Common Body Symptoms Are Functional
(Tests Are Normal)
| Fatigue and low energy*
|| Shortness of breath
| Insomnia and difficulty
|| Chest pain
| Gastrointestinal (IBS)
|| Abdominal pain
|| Back pain
| TMJ (pain in the jaw)
|| Pelvic pain
|| Painful menstrual periods
| Feeling faint
|| Decreased sex drive
| Difficulty concentrating
|| Bladder problems
| * The most
common symptoms associated with fibromyalgia
with Symptoms Become Patients with Functional Syndromes
Recognition of these "functional symptoms" leads to diagnosis with what
doctors call "functional syndromes," or collections of symptoms that
cannot be explained by medical science. People with functional symptoms
who go to see a doctor become patients with functional syndromes. The
main symptom and the type of doctor or specialist that a person sees
usually determine the syndrome diagnosis that he or she first receives.
As an example, the rheumatologist diagnoses widespread musculoskeletal
pain as fibromyalgia; the gastroenterologist diagnoses abdominal pain
associated with bowel changes as irritable bowel syndrome; the dentist
diagnoses jaw pain as temporomandibular joint dysfunction; the infectious
disease expert may diagnose chronic fatigue and flu-like symptoms as
chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS); the urologist diagnoses difficulties
with urination as irritable bladder syndrome or interstitial cystitis;
and the gynecologist diagnoses pelvic discomfort and pain as chronic
pelvic pain syndrome.
Are These Symptoms
and Syndromes "All in the Head"?
Unfortunately, terms like "functional," "psychosomatic," and "somatization"
are often interpreted to suggest that the symptoms are "all in the head,"
phoney, or imagined. The truth is that the symptoms are very real. In
fact, virtually everyone experiences one or more functional symptoms (or
syndromes if diagnosed by a doctor) from time to time. However, some people
have symptoms that are frequent, constant, and severe, which causes them
to consult with doctors. The suffering is enormous; it is personal, social,
What is going on here? What is the common denominator? The answer is
that the problem is not "all in the head" but is related to the connection
between the brain (mind) and body.
You will learn that mind and body are one. It no longer makes sense to
classify problems as either stress/emotional related (mind) or physical
(body). Furthermore, you will discover why it is essential that the mind-body
connection include spirit; scientific evidence continues to confirm the
mysterious power of spirit and how affirming beliefs—particularly belief
in a higher power—can contribute significantly to health.
You will study the neurochemical basis of the mind-body-spirit connection.
You will learn that there are three systems of communication.
We will propose a new language in this book for people with functional
symptoms, patients with functional syndromes, and the doctors who diagnose
them. The four new terms that we will introduce are the following:
You will appreciate that MindBodySpirit Healing is based upon the recognition
and acceptance of the connection between mind, body, and spirit, the distinction
between treatment and healing, the innate healing potential of the body,
and the power of the partnership between the patient and doctor/health professional
in restoring health.
- MindBodySpirit Connection
- MindBodySpirit Symptoms
- MindBodySpirit Syndromes
- MindBodySpirit Healing
You will understand fibromyalgia as a MindBodySpirit Syndrome, which
is a collection of MindBodySpirit Symptoms. You will better appreciate
the "cause" of fibromyalgia by understanding the biopsychosocialspiritual
model, the MindBodySpirit Connection, and systems thinking.
Why a Book about
There have been new developments in the diagnosis and treatment of fibromyalgia
and other soft tissue rheumatic disorders. Furthermore, everyone (people
with symptoms, patients with syndromes, and doctors who diagnose them)
can become more aware of a person's ability to heal from MindBodySpirit
Symptoms and MindBodySpirit Syndromes by understanding the MindBodySpirit
Connection and leading a healthy lifestyle.
The impact of "managed care" means that your doctor will have less time
to spend with you. In fact, most doctor visits are now limited to 12 minutes
or less! This does not leave much time for diagnosis, education, and treatment.
It may also be difficult and expensive for you to see a specialist because
the managed care system expects that your primary care physician should
be able to handle most problems.
The model of interaction between patient and physician is changing. YOU
are given more responsibility in the management of your own care. You
will need and must have accurate and reliable information in order to
fulfill this personal responsibility and opportunity.
The Power of
You gain the upper hand by understanding the MindBodySpirit Connection
and by an appreciation of the impact of perceived stress, emotional distress,
thought, and memory on the conscious and unconscious mind, body, and spirit.
Just knowing the "cause" of fibromyalgia is beneficial. Focusing on the
power of your mind rather than on the pain and diagnosis of your body
can bring lifelong relief.
With this book, you can explore your diagnostic and treatment options
in the privacy of your home and on your own time. Then, armed with information
and knowledge about your problem, you will be better able to partner with
your doctor in order to heal.
You Can Heal!
Your mind, body, and spirit are connected and inseparable. You will learn
that you are stronger than you ever thought and that you have more control
over your body than you realized. The goal of this book is to show you
that the illness of fibromyalgia is a MindBodySpirit Syndrome and to provide
the tools for you to access the miraculous ability of your body to heal
through the MindBodySpirit Connection. Furthermore, your problem can be
the stimulus for a life change that will bring you better health and wellness
than you have had before.
Learn to Be
You can learn to be healthy. Accurate information leads to healing and
is often much more important than medication. Achieving health and wellness
is an active, rather than passive, process. The focused information on
fibromyalgia in this book is integrated with holistic MindBodySpirit Connection
concepts and the latest information on living a healthy lifestyle.
It may take you up to twelve weeks to read this book and walk through
the seven steps listed in Table 3. Change is never easy, but then neither
is it easy to live with fibromyalgia. Behavioral psychologists have studied
people who have succeeded in changing their lives. Research shows that
it takes about 12 weeks to make the commitment, begin to change behavior,
and to establish an enduring life change.
Table 3: 7 Steps for Living a Healthy Life with Fibromyalgia
| Step 1: Connecting Mind,
Body, and Spirit
| Step 2: Learning about
Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain
| Step 3: Healing with Diagnosis
| Step 4: Making "The Connection"
| Step 5: Emphasizing Self-Care
| Step 6: Managing Your Fibromyalgia
| Step 7: Taking Action If
Not only can you heal from fibromyalgia, but also you can be healthier
than you have ever been. Turn the negative of your illness into the
positive of health and wellness. You can "use" fibromyalgia to change
your life and health. Focus on the power of your mind rather than on
the pain of your body. Use the diagnosis of fibromyalgia to realize
your ability to heal through the MindBodySpirit Connection and become
healthier than ever before. Welcome to wellness!
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