Fibromyalgia is one of the most misunderstood, misdiagnosed and mistreated conditions known to man, right up there with migraine. Luckily, as long as we don’t fall into the commonly held medical view of fibromyalgia we can actually begin to address it through what has been clinically found to work incredibly well. Throughout this article I will explain why fibromyalgia is so poorly dealt with and what we can action-ably do about it through 3 profound discoveries.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia diagnosis is one of the trickier diagnoses because there are no tests or scans that can be done for it. It is based on the patients experiences of pain and symptoms but sometimes a physical exam checking tender pain points will be done.

It is known that patients with fibromyalgia have a total of 18 points all over their body that are tender when pressed, and this is one of the diagnostic criteria as well.

See the picture below for the 18 pain points(9 pairs) that are commonly associated with fibromyalgia.

 

Significantly more patients with chronic migraine headaches were diagnosed with fibromyalgia when compared with those with chronic tension-type headaches (66.9% versus 25.7%, P < .001). 

 

The criteria needed for a diagnosis of fibromyalgia according to the American College of Rheumatology are:

 

1. Pain and symptoms over the past week in the required areas plus severity of these symptoms:

 

– Fatigue

 

– Waking Unrefreshed

 

– Cognitive (memory or thought) problems

 

– Some other general physical symptoms

 

2. Symptoms lasting at least three months at a similar level

 

3. No other health problem that would explain the pain and other symptoms(This is where we run into issues)

 

 

 

There are many issues that come with these criteria the most important of which is that they are so broad and general that a massive number of people can be lumped into this category and started on medication without looking at any other causes which bring me to the next point.

 

In number 3 we are becoming dependant on a doctors ability to assess and diagnose every system in our body and any dysfunction in it with what is regularly just a 7 minute visit.

 

This is nowhere near enough to assess one of the most stressful and connecting factors in fibro as well as migraines which is gut dysfunction and specifically gut infection, intestinal permeability(leaky gut) and dysbiosis(imbalanced gut bacteria) which can present with little to no digestive issues.

 

Common Connections Between Migraines and Fibromyalgia

 

Migraines and fibromyalgia often come together and as much as 100% of fibromyalgia patients will experience a migraine and 50% will have them regularly.

 

In 100 fibromyalgia patients screened, chronic headache was endorsed by 76% of treatment-seeking fibromyalgia patients, with 84% reporting substantial or severe impact from their headaches.

 

But not only are the head pains and general fibro symptoms connected.

 

There is also:

 

– Generalized pain around the body, in joints, muscles and digestion

 

– Fatigue and low energy levels with an inability to maintain quality of life

 

– Sensitivity to all manner of stimuli from simple touch and pain all the way to Environmental Intolerance(EI) and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity(MCS)

 

– Depression and anxiety which often come with reduced confidence and self esteem

 

– Sleep Disorders specifically with a disruption in ability to enter deep sleep states

 

– Cognitive issues like brain fog(fibro-fog), loss of memory for names, numbers and activities

 

See the infographic below comparing Fibromyalgia patients that have migraines and that do not have migraines and how often other health conditions came with them.

 

Fibromyalgia and Migraine Headaches

 

3 Profound Discoveries Connecting Fibromyalgia and Migraine Headaches

 

 

1. Central Sensitization

 

When our body is continually having to go through pain pathways it becomes sensitized to them and “travels” them much more easily.

 

As an analogy the more often a route is taken in a forest the more likely that the route will become a path as it will be easier to travel than routes not taken.

 

Practically this can turn stimuli that are not painful into feeling as if they are. Something like a breeze may be perceived as shocking pain.

 

The easiest way to understand how sensitization occurs is through the threshold theory which applies to both migraines and fibromyalgia, can be seen in the video here.

 

Threshold Effect – Our body adds up the stresses that are put on it. As these stressors or triggers get added up we get closer to our threshold. Our threshold is the point at which our body cannot maintain a normal state and can no longer compensate for the stresses/triggers. When our levels of these stresses cross the threshold we are highly susceptible to triggering migraine or fibro pain and we become centrally sensitized. This means that our central nervous system becomes sensitive to all other stimuli and so then any stress or stimulus that gets added on after our threshold becomes exponentially more sensitive/painful/damaging.

 

Originally central sensitization was thought to be only related to the sensing of pain but has now been found to relate to all senses.

 

Some examples of stressors that can contribute to central sensitization are:

 

  • Over training or over sedentary

  • Lack of support network

  • exposure to toxins

  • Somatization of emotion

  • Low quality nutrition

  • Genetic predispositions

  • Immune sensitization(Infections, toxins, chemicals, prescription drugs etc.)

  • Poor ergonomics

  • Pro-inflammatory diet

  • Etcetera

 

As an example we can think of our fibro and migraines as a river. When this river begins overflowing with symptoms and pain we might think we need to damn it up to stop the symptoms and pain…

 

But to effectively take the load off of the fibro/migraine river we need to damn the tributaries which all converge and turn into the river.

 

We need to dam the stressors that are contributing to the sensitization as opposed to the symptoms coming from becoming sensitized as much as we can.

 

The standard held belief is that central sensitization can occur as a primary issue and seemingly “out of nowhere” and all the blame gets put on the body and genetics. This is simply not true as per the above stressors many of which have been found to be the linchpins in this process.

 

2. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth and Intestinal Permeability “Leaky Gut”

 

The next most important factor in Fibromyalgia is making sure we understand that there is a massive connection between it and gut issues.

 

The simplest way of understanding it is that when our gut is infected, leaking or overrun we can have a massive amount of toxins from these coming into our body. Wherever they land or end up in the body will end up shooting up signals that there are foreign particles there. This can cause the immune system to activate in those areas and the nervous system to create inflammatory messengers leading to pain signals.

 

This adds to our already centrally sensitized nervous systems or pushes us over the edge/threshold and leads to trigger.

 

Not only this, but if our nervous system is creating inflammation signals so that these particles get dealt with and issues gets resolved, if the particles keep coming and the issue doesn’t get resolved, the inflammatory signals can actually further create sensitization in our nervous system…

 

On top of all of that, if our nervous system around the body is secreting inflammatory messaging molecules these can get passed the Blood Brain Barrier(BBB) and activate the immune system in the brain which will further increase pain sensation and sensitization.

 

30-70% of Fibromyalgia patients are found to have concurrent IBS

 

In this study they found that

 

“Results show that eradication of bacterial overgrowth results in a clinically significant alleviation of Fibromyalgia symptoms.”

 

It is incredibly important we go to knowledgeable practitioners in the realm of gut health, dysbiosis, SIBO and parasites to address these issues by:

 

  • Testing

  • Clearing out the gut

  • Healing the intestinal lining

  • Restoring bacterial balance

 

One of the best products on the market, provided youve been tested and guided is Freedom Cleanse Restore.

 

3. HPTTEAG Axis

 

Originally this was called the HPA axis for Hypothalamic, Pituitary, Adrenal axis.

 

But as medicine and science advances and we finally have the research that backs the clinical experience we have found that the entire glandular system is dependent on all of its parts.

 

HPTTEAG stands for the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Thyroid-Thymus-Enteric-Adrenal-Gonadal axis.

 

These are some of the highly important glands that function within the body to maintain homeostasis and balance.

 

When something like our circadian rhythms are thrown off it changes the functioning of the hypothalamic pituitary glands which then trickles down to all of the other glands in this axis.

 

The same goes with if we overstimulate our adrenal glands with stress, stimulants and sugars then the compensation patterns will trickle all the way up and down affecting the other glands and their hormone production.

 

Glands are the master regulators of the body and they control the show so to speak.

 

As more and more of our glands have to compensate for stresses that are going on chronically we experience a mixing of signals from them.

 

This leads to massive confusion in the body and BIG danger signs.

 

The body doesn’t know how to differentiate types of danger and instead adds them up.

 

This leads to overcompensation by our fight, fright, flee mode known as the sympathetic nervous system and undercompensation by our rest, digest and repair nervous system known as our parasympathetic nervous system.

 

Our ability to rest, digest and repair breaks down and we are stuck in fear, burnout and overwhelm.

 

We have to switch this cycle back over and take the burdens off our HPTTEAG axis by:

 

 

But along with these 3 profound discoveries and the amazing wealth of information and actionable items in those links there are also some simple and clinically study tools we can consider with our healthcare providers.

 

What else can we do?

 

You always first and foremost want to make sure your foundations are taken care of and underlying causes are dealt with FIRST.

 

Otherwise you are at risk of only palliating and even though you may feel better your body will still be compromised for years until another system breaks.

 

5 HTP

 

5 hydroxytryptophan(HTP) is a precursor to the neurotransmitter and hormone serotonin.

 

In one study they found that,

 

Our results suggest that a decreased brain serotonin level, as possibly reflected by a decreased transport ratio of plasma tryptophan, may play a pathophysiologic role in fibromyalgia.”

 

And another study found that

 

All the clinical parameters studied were significantly improved by treatment with 5-HTP and only mild and transient side-effects were reported.”

 

See graph from the study below:

 

Fibromyalgia 5 HTP Migraines Study

 

In this study they used 100mg of 5 HTP 3 times daily or placebo. It’s important to talk with your doctor before taking this supplement as you can have reactions with some medications and in some people.

 

Magnesium

 

Magnesium is one of our all stars in the chronic disease world and especially with fibromyalgia because it is so incredibly deficient in the industrialized world.

 

We used to be able to get enough magnesium from our diets but with overfarming of soil there is less magnesium in the plants. That combined with the increase in chronic lifestyle stress and gut dysfunction has set us up for massive magnesium loss.

 

One of the keys to retaining magnesium in the body is maintaining urinary alkalosis which is basically alkaline pee. We can do this by making sure we eat plenty of fruits and vegetables high in potassium and drinking half our body weight (lbs) in ounces of water daily.

 

One study found that,

 

The serum and erythrocyte magnesium levels were significantly lower in patients with fibromyalgia than in the controls…. The number of tender points, tender point index, FIQ and Beck depression scores decreased significantly with the magnesium citrate treatment.”

 

And that

 

Low magnesium levels in the erythrocyte might be an etiologic factor on fibromyalgia symptoms.”

 

Not only that but magnesium is amazing for helping to manage the stresses that affect our HPTTEAG axis and it is a key mineral in making sure our bowels work properly.

 

As you’ll notice if you take too much magnesium it will give you diarrhea but making sure you take enough magnesium keeps the bowels moving, prevents constipation and keeps the stool hydrated as long as water intake is sufficient.

 

The type and amount of magnesium is dependant on the person and so I would recommend you read our article on magnesium glycinate for menstrual and vestibular migraines here.

You have to see our video on 4 massive triggers of fibromyalgia migraines and headaches here:

 

By combining an incredibly knowledgeable holistic health practitioner along with preventing central sensitization, dealing with any SIBO and supporting your HPTTEAG axis you will be empowering your body to actually heal instead of be stuck without the resources to do so.

 

For more information on supporting your health with migraines many of which applies to fibromyalgia see our article on 7 great tips for complex and complicated migraines.

 

Do you experience migraines with your fibro? Do they flare at the same time? Let me know.

Mark Canadic

Mark Canadic

Holistic Health Practitioner

Mark Canadic is a writer, speaker, holistic health practitioner and migraine community leader. Read Mark’s inspiring comeback story, “My Burnout and Brain Fires that Lead me to the Root.” Feel free to send Mark a message here.

 

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