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Alternative Medicine and Fibromyalgia, Part 2

Who gets fibromyalgia syndrome? In the United States alone, millions of people suffer from FMS, and spend thousands of dollars on average before receiving an accurate diagnosis. While the definitive causes of fibromyalgia have not been determined, there are some factors that may increase your chances of developing this painful condition. Fibromyalgia may be hereditary; as many as 50 percent of children of FMS sufferers will develop this disease. FMS is more common in women than in men, although it has been theorized that women’s hormone levels make them more sensitive to pain, and thus they may seek medical help for FMS more often than men living with this condition. People that develop FMS are also more likely to have a history of depression, serious illness, traumatic injury or abuse, and exhibit a tendency toward perfectionism. This is certainly not to say fibromyalgia is the result of mental disturbances—the vast majority of FMS patients have no history of mental conditions and are unable to identify a traumatic “trigger event” that led to their developing FMS. However, people with FMS are more likely to have lived in conditions in which they have been exposed to significant physical or emotional stress.

There is presently no cure for FMS, although treatment with prescription medications such as tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and muscle relaxants have been shown to help control pain caused by FMS. Benzodiazepines, medications used to help control epileptic seizures, twitching, and restless leg syndrome, may also help eliminate the abnormal brain waves that cause non-restful sleep associated with FMS. However, many prescription medications come with significant side effects, such as chemical dependency, sexual dysfunction, muscular twitching or spasms, fatigue, nausea, etc., and are expensive. Some fibromyalgia patients find that alternative health therapies, either alone or in combination with mainstream allopathic treatments, greatly improve their condition. With a proper treatment plan, patients with fibromyalgia can help control factors that may aggravate their FMS, and may even effect a complete remission of symptoms with proper treatment.

A healthy diet is important to everyone, but fibromyalgia sufferers in particular must be sure to maintain a healthy, well balanced diet and avoid chemical stimulants. Nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol all stimulate the nervous system, which may activate an FMS flare. In addition, these substances interfere with normal sleep patterns, and may deprive the body the time it needs to repair tissue and restore mental function. FMS patients also need plenty of carbohydrates to increase levels of serotonin, a chemical that helps dull painful sensations and ease mental distress. Essential fatty acids and amino acids are important too, as they help repair the skin and muscle tissue, diminish fatigue, and improve mental awareness. However, FMS patients are by and large functioning individuals, who are under the same time constraints as everyone else—it can be difficult, if not impossible at times to maintain a stress-free lifestyle, not to mention a scrupulously healthy diet, when faced with work, family, and social obligations. Fortunately, there are many dietary supplements available that may help fibromyalgia patients strengthen their immune systems, restore normal sleep patterns, reinvigorate muscle tissue, improve mental function, and ease painful and inflammatory sensations that are common to this condition.

Alternative Medicine and Fibromyalgia, Part 3

Return to Alternative Medicine and Fibromyalgia, Part 1
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