What is Fibromyalgia?
The diagnosis of fibromyalgia has been a controversial topic for many years. It is not a new concept, and in the early 1900’s it was referred to as muscular rheumatism and other names. In the later 1900’s doctors agreed to the diagnosis on the basis of multiple characteristic symptoms and documented tenderness with pushing on a specific number and location of “tender points.”
More recently the presence of tender points has become less significant in the process of diagnosing fibromyalgia. In the middle of these controversies, there is a practical way to understand what changes occur in the body to create the symptoms/syndrome we call fibromyalgia.
If you go to the doctor with a heart problem, there is a good chance that you will be referred to a cardiologist. If the cardiologist can find a problem big enough and bad enough, you will be given a diagnosis and a medication for treatment. If the problem is not that bad, you might be advised that you have mitral valve prolapse.
If you go to the doctor with intestinal issues, there is a good chance you will be referred to a gastroenterologist. If this specialist can find a problem big enough and bad enough, you will be give a diagnosis and a medication for treatment. If the problem is not that bad, you might be advised that you have irritable bowel syndrome.
What if your problems include more than your heart and gut—in that your hormones aren’t right, thyroid is low, sleep is poor, you fatigue easily, suffer constipation, and you suffer wide spread pain through many areas of your body?
This is a constellation of symptoms that represents fibromyalgia—or fibromyalgia syndrome. There are multiple symptoms that involve multiple body systems—none bad enough for each symptom to get its own doctor, specialist, and medication, but each bad enough to be causing significant symptoms.
In this sense, fibromyalgia is not a disease; it is a condition of being—a description of a person who has multiple organ dysfunctions, and symptoms across many of these body systems.
Well, looking at the process in this fashion, what causes fibromyalgia?
This is also easy to understand. The human body is a high performance, biochemical Ferrari. The car is designed to run on Ferrari racing oil and 100 octane fuel. If we try to run the engine on old oil and bargain gasoline, the odds are that the car will not go around the track with the big boys. Well, the human body has some similar issues. It also runs on quality oil and high octane food.
When we try to run our bodies on the oil of deep fried food, and the octane of sugar and white flour, we deteriorate and age more quickly, fatigue more quickly, and wear out our core energy reserves. As this process occurs in the body and our reserve lessens, we become more fragile…..and then we take one more hit. At this point in time it does not matter whether the “hit” is a viral infection, social/psychological trauma (dog dies, house burns down, mate files for divorce), motor vehicle accident, or even a lifting injury. After the “hit,” all body systems start to decompensate. When there is enough decompensation that we experience enough symptoms across different body systems, we have a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia therefore does not “cause” anything. Instead, what is problematic in your body is just a part of the degeneration and aging that defines the constellation of fibromyalgia symptoms in your particular body.
Fibromyalgia is not a disease….it is a condition of being. The dysfunctions and symptoms are what make it fibromyalgia. You don’t get “fibromyalgia of the shoulder,” or “fibromyalgia of the lower back.” Fibromyalgia does not cause your neck to tighten or your eyes to blur or vision to distort. Fibromyalgia is the name we give to this entire complex of symptoms, and this complex is different for everyone. It is just the name—a name that describes a person with these problems that result from the body decompensating because of its environment.
Understanding fibromyalgia in this way gives us a protocol to treat fibromyalgia that works so well that most people can improve by 70%.