Fibromyalgia, a rheumatic disorder

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Published: 10th April 2009
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What is Fibromyalgia or FMS?

Fibromyalgia is a rheumatic disorder that is characterized by widespread muscle pain and fatigue that has no physical cause.

People suffering from FMS will wake up feeling tired and lethargic and will experience aching and stabbing muscle pain. These pains often disappear throughout the day.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia may be constant or can disappear and then recur months later. Females are more susceptible to Fibromyalgia than males and FMS often starts to manifest in early adulthood.

As with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, FMS is very hard to diagnose as blood tests and x-rays show no abnormalities.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

The most distinctive feature of Fibromyalgia is the existence of "tender points" that specialists use to diagnose and distinguish Fibromyalgia.

The "tender points" refer to eighteen specific spots where the muscles will be abnormally tender to the touch. These points are clustered around the neck, shoulders, chest, knees, hips and the elbow region and will include the following:

 At the insertion of the second rib

 In the middle of the knee joint

 Around the lower vertebra of the neck

 In muscles of the neck and upper back

 In muscles connected to the base of the skull

 In muscles of the mid-back

 In the upper and outer muscles of the buttocks

 On the side of the elbow

People who suffer from Fibromyalgia also suffer from various sleep disorders, all of which contribute to the extreme fatigue experienced.

 Alpha-EEG anomaly - the individual's deep sleep period is interrupted by bouts of waking-type brain activity, i.e. the person is wide awake for long periods of time and literally cannot shut off their thoughts

 Sleep apnea - a condition where the individual will stop breathing for a few seconds and the brain automatically "shocks" the body awake to start breathing

 Restless leg syndrome - the individual will complain that as he/she is falling asleep, their legs start to involuntarily twitch and the only way to relieve this is to move the limbs

Other disorders common in people suffering from Fibromyalgia:

 Headaches

 Jaw pain

 Menstrual pain

 Chemical and/or food allergies

 Dizziness and loss of balance

 Irritable bowel syndrome

 Memory loss and difficulty in concentrating

 A sensitivity to bright light and loud noises

 Sensitivity to dairy products

 Skin sensitivities

 Stiffness and pain in the morning and when walking

In most cases of FMS, symptoms are severe enough to interfere with daily activities. A number of people suffering from Fibromyalgia are actually disabled by the disorder.

What causes Fibromyalgia?

The exact cause of FMS is not known. Some experts suggest that the condition is due to low levels of serotonin which is a chemical that transmits messages throughout the brain and the nervous system.

Other researchers have found that some patients with Fibromyalgia have extremely high levels of substance P, which is believed to transmit pain messages from the body to the brain. People with FMS are therefore much more sensitive pain-producing stimuli.

A severe injury, a weak immune system and long-standing psychological stress are all common factors associated with Fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have been closely linked and symptoms often overlap each other.

How can supplements help me?

Chronic pain sufferers tend to have a magnesium deficiency and a magnesium supplement is therefore crucial. Magnesium is important for muscle relaxation and Malic acid should be added as this assists the body with magnesium absorption.

St. John's Wort assists in raising serotonin levels which can improve pain tolerance.

Using Kava Kava or Valerian to aid sleep will assist the patient in combating fatigue associated with Fibromyalgia.

Vitamin C and grape seed extracts are powerful anti-oxidants and protect cells from damage.

Evening Primrose oil eases rheumatoid pain.

Supplement Recommendations

Supplement Dosage

Magnesium / Malic acid 150 mg magnesium and 600 mg malic acid twice a day

St. John's Wort 300 mg 3 times a day

Vitamin C 1000 mg daily

Grape Seed extract 100 mg twice a day

Evening Primrose oil 1000 mg 3 times a day

Other recommendations

Eat a well balanced diet that consists of mainly fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, raw nuts and seeds and fish. These foods supply nutrients that renew your energy levels and boost your immune system.

Try to eat at least four small meals during the day to keep a constant supply of carbohydrates and proteins available. Carbohydrates and proteins are essential for proper muscle function.

Drink plenty of water - at least 8 glasses a day and include fresh fruit and vegetable juices. Liquids help to flush out toxins and assist in reducing muscle spasms and pain.

Cut out caffeine and refined sugars found in foods such as chocolates and soft drinks.

Include pomegranates and pomegranate juice as this fruit has anti-inflammatory properties.

Regular moderate exercise will be beneficial to keep muscles flexible.


Please consult your medical practitioner prior to using any herbal medications should you be under their care. Suggestions offered are not intended to replace appropriate medical investigation and treatment.

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