Fibromyalgia: Frequently Asked Questions

It can be frustrating to have persistent neck, shoulder, or lower back pain and wonder if it will ever disappear. If the underlying cause is fibromyalgia, you may see a doctor who says that fibromyalgia does not exist, or they simply hand them a pamphlet about fibromyalgia while recommending exercise or prescribing antidepressant medication.

Fibromyalgia is very real, and you deserve treatment for your symptoms. There is an alternative, comprehensive approach to treating this disorder that includes pain relief, education, bodywork, and lifestyle changes. Here are the most common questions our patients ask about fibromyalgia:


Medical providers have recognized and diagnosed fibromyalgia for over 200 years. It was first called muscular rheumatism, and then experts adopted the term fibrositis. Today, fibromyalgia is the diagnosis we apply to people with chronic pain and symptoms of dysfunction related to several organ systems, most likely with no problems severe enough to be diagnosed by medical testing.

By definition, fibromyalgia is not a disease. It does not come from specific bacteria or a single causative agent, so it can be hard to diagnose or treat. Nevertheless, people with fibromyalgia can experience very real symptoms, such as

  • Bizarre pain
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Depression
  • Chronic headaches
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Impaired memory
  • Morning stiffness
  • Irritable bladder
  • Sleep disorders
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction

Symptoms can worsen with changes in stress, physical activity, or the weather.

In 1990, the American College of Rheumatology defined criteria for identifying and diagnosing fibromyalgia. People with this condition tend to have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Three-month history of widespread pain
    • Pain on both sides of the body
    • Pain above and below the waist
    • Pain along the spine or chest
    • Pain with pressure applied to at least 11 of 18 specifically defined tender points

Even with these established criteria, not all doctors agree on what fibromyalgia is or how to treat it. Many physicians think that fibromyalgia is a primary disease of muscle tissue. However, recent theories suggest that the nervous and immune systems are involved. There is also evidence that heredity can be to blame. Nevertheless, there are specialists in Cincinnati who treat this kind of pain and confirm that what their patients are going through is real.


The human body is a high-performance, biochemical Ferrari. Like an elite sports car, your body is designed to run on racing oil fuel. Unfortunately, many people try to run their bodies on sub-par or harmful fuels that ultimately load our systems down with toxins.

These practices wear out the body’s ability to protect itself from illness or injury. All it takes is for a person to incur just one more “hit” that it cannot recover from, such as a physical injury, viral infection, or psychosocial trauma. Instead of healing and bouncing back, the body decompensates, and the person develops symptoms in several parts of the body. When these symptoms become severe enough, we call it fibromyalgia.


To understand what causes fibromyalgia symptoms, it is important to discuss myofascial pain. Fascia is the tissue throughout the body that connects your bones, muscles, joints, and organs. Fascia helps hold you together on the inside, supports your organs and keeps them in place.

Myofascia refers to the integration of muscle cells and the fascia that holds them together to make the cells become a muscle.

Myofascial pain comes from knots and kinks in the myofascial that are derived from injury and cause pain and dysfunction. These myofascial trigger points in muscle tissue feel like nodules or knots of tightness. When you suffer an injury, trigger points form as a response and generate pain patterns that can feel like aching, numbness, tingling, and cramping in muscles or nearby joints. The trigger points also restrict motion, cause weakness, and tighten soft tissues.

Repetitive strain and motion cause trigger points to form in overused muscles. Trigger points also have the following effects:

  • Pain associated with tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow in the forearm
  • Wrist pain and tenderness
  • Bursitis and inflammation in hip joints from pain in the buttocks muscles


As a local doctor who has seen many cases of myofascial pain, I have diagnosed and treated many men, women, and children with fibromyalgia. They all likely have myofascial pain with many trigger points located in diverse muscle groups. All these trigger points can generate pain at the same time.

Imagine that these trigger points represent musicians in a large orchestra. When they begin playing, the brain is listening to and being bombarded by all these musical sounds—or pain patterns—at the same time . . . all the time. The level of pain depends on how loudly this metaphorical orchestra plays. The location of the worst pain is akin to which musician stands up to play a solo.

The nature and level of fibromyalgia pain largely depend on what a person has done in the last three days, what the weather will do tomorrow, and what they may have eaten in the past 1-4 weeks.


I often hear fibromyalgia sufferers say, “I gave up my life for this disease; I’m not giving up my food!” This attitude is unfortunate and often misguided. So many times, food contributes to the proliferation of disease, and it can also promote healing. In many people, nutrition is essential for the healing process to be possible.

Nutrition plays a vital role in treating fibromyalgia. What we get out of our bodies is directly related to the quality of what we put into them. For example, “whole foods” such as whole-grain bread and brown rice are better for us than processed foods like white flour and white rice. Refined sugar is perhaps the worst of the processed foods for us to eat. Many people feel better if they do not eat wheat at all.

Active allergic states can also cause the pain to increase in some people with fibromyalgia. Therefore, treating for allergic conditions can be helpful.

Some dietary supplements can help to reduce fatigue, another common fibromyalgia symptom. Vitamin C, magnesium, B-12, folic acid, co-enzyme Q, and a good multivitamin can be beneficial. Less conservative treatment centering on chronic yeast (candida) has also been helpful in many patients.


There are many treatments and therapies that can help adults and children with fibromyalgia. Pain can be treated with bodywork that includes

  • Acupuncture
  • AquaMed hydrotherapy
  • Chiropractic
  • Hands-on myofascial release
  • Stretching
  • Myofascial trigger point injections
  • Prolotherapy and neural therapy injections

Patients with fibromyalgia who experience pain, stress, anxiety, and low mental functioning can get relief through thought field therapy, biofeedback, and EEG biofeedback. Other important modalities include

  • Aromatherapy
  • Environmental detoxification
  • Feldenkrais
  • Healing touch
  • Lymphatic drainage
  • Massage therapy
  • Photon therapy
  • Reflexology

Nutrition is also essential for reducing pain, relieving fatigue, and improving total body wellness. Nutritional supplementation and various therapies can significantly treat pain and boost the body’s defenses.

Despite being very important, nutritional changes can be difficult for many people. That is why we provide one-on-one sessions under Dr. Blatman’s direction to help our patients through dietary transitions. In addition, we also offer food sensitivity testing to address bowel problems, headaches, pain, fatigue, and mental cloudiness.

Another consideration is stress management. The central nervous system often responds to stress by creating more muscle pain. Since we do not live in a stress-free environment, we can use techniques that change how we react to stressful stimuli.

For most people, sleep deprivation causes fatigue and diffuse pain patterns. A good night’s sleep is also essential in healing but can be elusive for many people with fibromyalgia. Some prescription drugs help bring on sleep, but they can be addictive. We offer non-addictive medications and herbal therapies to help restore standard sleep patterns, offering a beneficial effect on pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia.

Aerobic exercise and general muscular conditioning are very important parts of fibromyalgia treatment. Patients need to learn how to use their bodies in fun ways, like walking or cycling, without paying for it later with days of pain. The key is to start slowly and build up your activity over time.


Yes, there is hope! We at Blatman Health and Wellness Center take fibromyalgia seriously and will only give up once there is a successful treatment for your condition.

Research is helping doctors understand more about the body mechanisms involved in fibromyalgia symptoms. New medications and therapies are being developed, and they continue to improve the quality of life for the many people who suffer from this condition.

Individualized holistic treatment is effective for most fibromyalgia sufferers. Myofascial medicine can treat an estimated 70% of the pain. In addition to therapy, we offer our patients education and guidance for continued healing.


You are not alone. About 4 million people in the U.S. have fibromyalgia. There is likely a support group near where you live.

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