Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue, what are they?
There is a great deal of controversy among many specialists in regards to these disorders. Are they two separate disorders or different presentations of the same disorder? To complicate matters it is said that 70% of those with fibromyalgia fit the criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome and 70% of those with chronic fatigue syndrome fit the criteria for fibromyalgia.
There is no definitive test that conclusively diagnose the disorders. There is no special lab test, x-ray, CT scan, MRI scan or brain scan that will show any evidence of these disorders.
How is it diagnosed?
Diagnosis is based on certain criteria of complaints and findings being met. It is often a diagnosis of exclusion, which means diagnosis is made once every other possible condition or disease is ruled out.
Is it real?
There are differing opinions about this question. Is it real or is it in your mind? Because of the lack of empirical evidence, there are many health professionals who still believe that there is no such thing as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Some believe that they are mental disorders and that is all in your head. Those of you who have one or both of these disorders have probably met with a health professional like this. They rarely admit their disbelief but you can always tell by their demeanor towards you.
What do I think about these disorders?
I have been treating fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome patients for the last 12 years. I can tell you that these syndromes are real and are progressively debilitating. I have found this to be a disorder of both mind and body.
I’ve come to realize that most people with these disorders have similar personality traits. These (you) are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. These are some of the most driven, productive and task oriented people. Furthermore, these are some of the kindest and most selfless people on earth. Unfortunately, these traits lead to their undoing.
I believe that there is an underlying weakness in the body that can lead to these disorders. I believe that many carry these weaknesses and are unaware. I believe that this weakness requires a combination of triggers to initiate the response of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
I believe in many cases there is often an underlying deficiency in hormones, especially thyroid hormone as well as some level of nutritional deficit. In addition, it seems that many different triggers can initiate the response such as a severely stressful life or event. It may come from exposure to a toxic substance.
Selfless people who push themselves too hard…
Quite often it is a saintly personality trait that triggers the disorder and continues to aggravate it even to the point of disability. Is not surprising that they are mostly women. The problem is this: these disorders often set in when an individual pushes themselves over and over beyond their physical capacities, often in selfless service and physical work. In many cases is because of a self-defeating compulsion.
In some cases this occurs out of necessity and circumstance such as with a single parent. Once the individual starts experiencing the debilitating symptoms associated with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, the tendency is to push through the pain and fatigue and often with a smile on their faces. I have found that this personality type does not like to show weakness.
Often, they and their spouses are the only ones that know that there is a problem. They will often carry this façade and secret as long as they can. Eventually, they will share this with a family physician hoping for a quick solution.
Many doctors dismiss the person with CFS/Fibromyalgia
Their physician will often show concern and do a number of tests only to find that everything is normal. At this point they may find that the demeanor of their doctor changes as they view them as needy, weak or even as a drug seeker. They will often be labeled as depressed and even offer antidepressants which provide little or no benefit.
Every so often one finds one of those great physicians who takes a real interest in them and diagnosis them correctly. Most often however, the individual searches the Internet and finds the diagnosis on their own. There is some definite peace found once they know what is going on, they no longer feel so crazy, lazy and whiny.
Friends often don’t understand either
The peace is usually short-lived when they realize that the treatment options are limited. As it sets in, they will find that the cycles of disabling fatigue/pain become more extreme with less “ups” and worsening and more frequent “downs”. What adds insult to injury is the judgment that occurs from friends, acquaintances, family and co-workers (keep in mind not all judgement is verbal).
People don’t understand that this is a real disorder and see them as lazy, weak or as attention seekers, believing that it’s all in their head. Remember, these people often trigger and aggravate the disorder as a result of over-functioning and doing too much. These are usually the most driven and hard-working people you will ever meet. There is no greater insult than to be called lazy or weak so they push themselves harder and live the lie longer until their bodies physically and mentally shut them down to the point that they cannot function.
Methods of treatment:
- Optimize and balance hormones. We have found great success with the use of bio-identical hormone therapy including progesterone, estrogen and testosterone.
- Aggressive treatment with thyroid hormone.
- Find and treat food sensitivities.
- Improve gut function.
- Improve nutrition.
- Improve Adrenal function
- Modify physical compulsions and behaviors.
- Integrate a controlled exercise program.
- Improve pain and fatigue cycles (increase the “ups” and reduce the frequency and severity of “downs”).
- Improve overall quality of life.
- Improve physical endurance and tolerance.
- Improve brain function and mental clarity.
- Improve function to “normal” or “near-normal”.
- Make life fun again.
Approximately 30% will have dramatic results within the first month, some even in the first few days. Approximately 65% will have gradual improvement, resulting in marked improvement within approximately 3 to 6 months.
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Finally, Relief After 12 Years With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia 12 years ago. I have always believed natural medicine preferable to traditional medicine. I found a doctor specializing in Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia and worked with him long distance. I learned that the secret was diet, stress management, supplementation, and exercise. Over the years as long as I followed that health program I have done fairly well. Flare ups have occurred but I have been able to work a fairly demanding job and spend very little time in bed.
A couple of years ago I began to feel as though I was just wearing out again. I rarely slept more than 4 or 5 hours and could barely make it through the day. I was gaining weight and felt like I was losing control over my health. With my 60th birthday on the horizon I was committed to making a comeback. I did not want to be one of those people who hit retirement too sick and tired to enjoy it. Part of my profession involves research and after much reading and studying I discovered that hormones were the missing link. I was too aware of the health risks to even consider the synthetic hormones suggested by my GP, so I went looking elsewhere.
As I searched the web for bio-identical hormone specialists in the Intermountain region, I almost drove myself crazy. There were so many to choose from and each had a little different approach. As I listed pros and cons I realized I just wanted a hormone specialist. My husband, who also has aging health issues, was interested in joining me on this quest so it was very important that I make the right choice.
Genesys Medical Institute Hormone Balance Center was our choice. Right from the start they were great to work with. Dr. Jeff has been wonderful. He is very available to us to answer questions whenever we have them. I’ve have never worked with a medical professional who is so available and responsive to our needs.
Upon initial testing it was very evident we were running on empty! Our hormone levels were unbelievably low. Dr. Jeff took considerable time to explain to us what was happening with our hormones and to craft a unique program for each of us. The change with any kind of natural medicine is slow, but after 4 months we are beginning to see results. We are sleeping better. We have more energy. Some of the joy of life is returning. Now, I am excited as my 60th birthday rolls around. It’s going to be an awesome year. Thank you Genesys Medical!
Heather Hoyt – Salt Lake City, Utah