9th March 23:05
Fibromyalgia: New Insights Into a Misunderstood Ailment (hypothalamus personality magnesium depression anxiety)
Thanks to one of our readers for sending the following article...Myrl
Posted on: Saturday, 1 January 2005,
Fibromyalgia: New Insights Into a Misunderstood Ailment
SATURDAY, Jan. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Fibromyalgia was once dismissed by
many traditional medical practitioners as a phantom illness.
But that view is changing rapidly. Not only is fibromyalgia accepted as
a diagnosable illness, it is also a syndrome that researchers are
finding more complicated as new information emerges.
As recently as a year ago, many physicians still associated some of
fibromyalgia's symptoms with emotional problems, but that's no longer
A simple description of fibromyalgia is that it is a chronic syndrome
characterized by widespread muscle pain and fatigue.
For still unknown reasons, people with fibromyalgia have increased
sensitivity to pain that occurs in areas called their "tender points."
Common ones are the front of the knees, the elbows, the hip joints, the
neck and spine. People may also experience sleep disturbances, morning
stiffness, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and other symptoms.
According to the American College of Rheumatology, fibromyalgia affects
3 million to 6 million Americans, 80 percent to 90 percent of whom are
women. The condition is most often diagnosed during middle age, but at
least one of its symptoms appears earlier in life.
But is there a psychological tie-in strong enough to differentiate
fibromyalgia from other similar diseases and conditions? Apparently
"Fibromyalgia patients are such a diverse group of patients, they
cannot all be the same," said Dr. Thorsten Giesecke, a University of
Michigan research fellow.
Giesecke and his colleagues evaluated 97 fibromyalgia patients,
including 85 women and 12 men. The patients underwent a two-day series
of tests, answering questions about their coping strategies and
personality traits -- particularly their emotional well-being. They
were also tested for sensitivity to pressure and pain.
"It's generally been thought that fibromyalgia patients who have higher
distress have higher pain sensitivities," Giesecke said.
In other words, it was believed that those with fibromyalgia who were
prone to emotional difficulties such as depression and anxiety were
more likely to experience greater physical pain.
But his study didn't bear that out. In fact, patients in one of the
three groups in the study who had the highest pain levels had the
The term fibromyalgia comes from the Latin word for fibrous tissue
(fibro) and the Greek ones for muscle (myo) and pain (algia). Tender
points are specific locations on the body -- 18 points on the neck,
shoulders, back, hips and upper and lower extremities -- where
individuals with fibromyalgia feel pain in response to relatively
The U.S. government's National Institute of Arthritis and
Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases says fibromyalgia patients often
experience combinations of many other chronic and frustrating symptoms,
irritable bowel syndrome,
painful menstrual periods,
numbness or tingling of the extremities,
restless leg syndrome,
cognitive and memory problems, sometimes referred to as "fibro fog."
Latest research indicates that fibromyalgia is the result of internal
biochemical imbalances that cause physical symptoms such as pain,
weakness and mental impairment. Because it is a syndrome -- a
collection of signs and symptoms -- rather than a disease, fibromyalgia
can't be diagnosed by an invariable set of specific symptoms or
reproducible laboratory findings.
Even with the findings about relatively small psychological influence,
practical experience seems to indicate that stress may play a role.
Roger H. Murphree, a Birmingham, Ala., chiropractor who specializes in
treating patients with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, said
he has seen a link between stress and the intensity of fibromyalgia.
"Most of us live in a world of stress," Murphree said. "Something has
to give, and it's usually sleep. Meanwhile, we subsist on junk food,
caffeine, alcohol and prescription medications. Such a lifestyle isn't
good for anyone. But for an unlucky few, the toll is severe."
Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, whose practice in Annapolis, Md., led him to do
research into fibromyalgia and the closely related chronic fatigue
syndrome, concluded that the body's endocrine system could hold the
clue to treatment. It's a matter of how the body's energy is marshaled,
"Fibromyalgia is like the body blowing a fuse," he explained. "The
hypothalamus serves as humans' internal fuse box. When the demands of
living build up, stress increases and the hypothalamus shuts down.
Because the circuit is overtaxed and the fuse is blown, the body simply
can't generate enough energy."
"That causes muscles to cease functioning in a shortened position,
resulting in pain all over the body and a general feeling of fatigue or
weariness," Teitelbaum said.
Murphree's experience with hundreds of patients confirms Teitelbaum's
****ogy. Most, he said, are either "Type A" perfectionists or "Type B"
"Type A fibromyalgia patients work and work and work until they burn
out," said Murphree. "Type B patients give and give and give --
nurturing their spouses, children, family and friends -- until they
break down. Anyone whose lifestyle includes very little downtime is at
Teitelbaum recommends a four-pronged approach to repair the "blown
fuse" and turn the body's current back on:
Restoration of sleep -- at a minimum, eight to nine hours every night,
using appropriate medications, as needed;
Restoration of a normal hormone balance, including thyroid, adrenal and
Appropriate treatment for infections that may be present as a
consequence of the body's depleted immune function;
Nutritional support, particularly with B complex vitamins, magnesium,
zinc and malic acid.
Teitelbaum uses the acronym SHIN to summarize his treatment regimen. "S
is for sleep, H for hormone balance, I for infection control, and N for
nutrition," he explained. "The important thing is that all four should
be implemented in concert with one another for maximum the****utic
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin
Diseases offers more information on fibromyalgia.
SOURCES: Thorsten Giesecke, M.D., research fellow, University of
Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich.; Roger H. Murphree, chiropractor,
Birmingham, Ala.; Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., director, Center for
Effective CFIDS/Fibromyalgia Therapies, Annapolis, Md.; National
Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases; October
2003 Arthritis & Rheumatism ~FMYA~