Written by Deb Lundquist with sources listed at the end
July 15, 2017
We all know that the main symptom of Fibromyalgia is pain that is impossible to explain to others, especially to people who are really brick walls with blocked ears. The second symptom is debilitating exhaustion that, no matter how much you try to sleep, just simply seems to continually seep into your world with a snap of a finger. You sleep and wake up more exhausted than before you slept. It is so hard to explain to loved ones. Yet you look perfectly healthy.
The good news is that both the National Institutes of Health and the American College of Rheumatology recognize Fibromyalgia as a complex disease which involves the physical body, brain chemistry, mental function, and psycho- emotional health. This complex disease has so many signs and symptoms that aren’t focused on just pain and exhaustion.
Simply Fibro means fiber or fibrous tissue and myalgia means a non-specific muscle pain. There is so much more to it as you all know. We will go into it in a minute. The American College of Rheumatology estimates that from 2-4% of the adult population of the world have Fibromyalgia and most of these, 90%, are women. This does not take into account teenagers or children.
Despite all of this recognition, many physicians still refuse to believe in and/or treat Fibromyalgia because they cannot find anything clinically wrong with the patient during the physical examination. They don’t believe what the patient is saying and they don’t run all of the tests that need to be run.
Signs and Symptoms of Fibromyalgia Classified By Body Area
• Constant/chronic pain in muscles all over the body, especially in the shoulders, neck, lower back, and hips
• Muscle spasms or cramps, including heart palpitations
• Tight muscles
• Muscle and joint stiffness upon waking or after sitting in one place for an extended period of time
• Muscle aches and tenderness in the face, particularly the jaw
• Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
• Poor recovery after exercise, or avoiding exercise altogether due to pain
• Muscle weakness in the arms or legs
Energy-Related Fibromyalgia Symptoms
• Moderate to severely debilitating fatigue
• Complete lack of energy, feeling “wiped out” most of the time
• Insomnia due to constant pain at night
• Feeling exhausted, even after a decent night’s sleep
• Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels
Mental Concentration Fibromyalgia Symptoms
• Brain fog, often referred to as “fibro fog”
• Difficulty remembering simple things
• Difficulty concentrating
• Difficulty with mental math or other simple mental tasks; “can’t think”
• Short or long-term memory loss
• Inability to multi-task
• Attention deficit disorder
Gastro-intestinal Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
• Irritable Bowel Syndrome
• Abdominal pain
• Alternating between diarrhea and constipation
• Leaky Gut Syndrome
Neurological Symptoms Related to Fibromyalgia
• Numbness or tingling sensations in the face, hands, feet, arms, or legs
• Feeling as if the hands of feet are swelling, but without evidence of edema
• High sensitivity of any of the following: bright lights, noise, cold temperature, certain odors, or foods
• Urinary urgency-feeling as if the bladder constantly needs to be emptied
• Migraine headaches
• Tension headaches
Psychological Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
• Anxiety and panic
• Chronic clinical depression
• Post-traumatic stress disorder
Hormonal-Endocrine Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
• Adrenal gland dysfunction
• Pituitary gland dysfunction
• Thyroid gland dysfunction
• Low insulin levels
• Growth hormone dysfunction in some cases
Web MD.com, “Symptoms of Fibromyalgia”
· Be Positive! Negativity can not only cause stress, it can deepen your depression.
· Improve Nutrition!
· Go Holistic! Some medications may be necessary, but reduce your synthetic footprint as much as necessary!
· Reduce Toxins!
· Become Active! Join activities outside your home. Just one to start with, even if you have to cancel sometimes. At least, you will start meeting people.
· Possibly start a support group in your local area. They are needed. Let us know so we can start promoting them. We have lots of information you can use!
· Get rid of stress in your life! Stress can not only make you sick, it can make your Fibromyalgia worse.
· Learn how to read your body and listen to it.
· Make 3 journals:
1. 1 to keep track of what you eat and drink and how your body reacts over the next 2 days;
2. 1 to keep track of your activities and how you react and then figure out ways to change how you do your activities and how your body reacts;
3. 1 to act as a journal to track your emotions and how your day went.
· Learn how to meditate.
· Learn how to go to your happy place.
· Learn how to do Yoga (not at home, go to a professional to be sure you are doing the moves right.)
· Massage with essential oils, explain exactly what is wrong with you before the massage begins.
· Epsom salt with sea salt (so your skin won’t dry out so bad) with essential oils. Then apply your favorite lotion all over your body, one with nutrients but no toxins.
· When your body says stop, stop. When it says rest, rest but don’t rest for days and days.
· Learn to pace yourself.
· Only drive when you are absolute sure you are safe to drive.
· Say your affirmations every single day!
1. I am NOT alone!
4. I still have a purpose!
2. I am loved!
5. I am a special person!
3. I am needed!
6. I have special empathy!
Written by Deb Lundquist
July 12, 2017
Before Fibromyalgia, did you used to grab the car keys without any thought and race to the car, start it, put your seat belt on and just take off to wherever you were going? You knew exactly how to get there and so you didn’t even have to think about the route you were taking? It was like the car just automatically knew, so all you had to think about was traffic? You could sing with the radio and it didn’t distract you. You could talk to the person next to you, you could laugh. You could park fairly easily.
You could travel with ease. You enjoyed it. You could go anywhere and often did.
Then you developed Fibromyalgia and probably a few other things as well. At first you didn’t know what it was, but you noticed your concentration was making things difficult, especially things like driving. For another thing, you noticed you were tired all the time, so it was a little scary driving because you never knew when the total exhaustion was going to hit you.
Sometimes your eyes would get blurry. Sometimes your pain would be so bad, you couldn’t push the gas pedal, let alone the break. Sometimes you were just too weak to even get off the couch, so how were you supposed to drive?
Things distracted you so easily now; the radio, someone else’s radio, conversation in the car, the baby’s crying, someone arguing on the street corner. People honking their horns because you didn’t start right away when the light turned green.
You get lost easily because you forget where you are going. You have to really think out a plan of your route now, because otherwise you might not get there as soon as you are supposed to because you get lost.
You are forgetful, so you might not even go where you are supposed to in order to meet someone, or maybe you just don’t feel like going.
Maybe you don’t feel like you aren’t safe driving anymore. I finally got to that point. I finally got to the point where I felt like I might not be seeing other drivers after my last accident, even though the policeman said he almost hit his superior’s car because of all the smoke. He didn’t give me the ticket. He said it wasn’t my fault I didn’t see the car. It was the farmers for starting the fire during unsafe conditions.
I quit driving all together until about 2 months ago. I will drive now because my head is clear, but I would not until then.
Then how do you get comfortable traveling now that you have Fibromyalgia? You feel everything!
What Can You Do To Improve Your Ability To Drive?
Treat Your Fibromyalgia Symptoms.
There is no cure for Fibromyalgia at this time, but who knows what the future might bring. Once they find the cause of Fibromyalgia, it may be closer than we think to a cure. Until then, we can only treat the symptoms.
High Quality Nutrition, Plus
– D3, 5,000 mg
– Magnesium Glycinate = the magnesium especially for Fibromyalgia. Take the same amount of this magnesium as you take Calcium
– Calcium, 1,200 mg
– Vitamin C, 1,000 mg
Treat Your Depression:
– see a psychologist for discussion and get rid of stressors and other distractors
– See a psychiatrist to get the right medications you need that can not only help your depression, but help with your nerve endings as well.
Get Good Rest:
– Before you set off to drive someplace, even if it is just to the grocery store or the kids to school, be sure you had a good night’s sleep. If you need to get help from your Doctor do so or you can use holistic methods …
– Get Sunglasses that wrap around your head so the sun can’t blind you from the side.
– Fibromyalgia can cause allergies and dry eyes. My eye Doctor gave me Ketotifen Fumarate Ophthalmic Solution. My eyes were so blurry, it was so hard to see. I put one drop in each eye, morning and night and it is so soothing and really clears my eyes. It makes driving much easier.
– Wear a hat to protect your eyes from the sun as well.
– Try not to drive at night, because it is harder for us to see at this time.
– Wear ear plugs to drown out some of the outside noises that bother you, not all the sounds. If you do listen to music, keep one ear plug or bud out of your ear so you can hear sirens and such.
– Don’t use your cell phone, even if you have it tuned in to your car. It is a distraction.
– Put on lip balm so that your lips don’t get dry while you are driving causing another distraction.
– The Physical Therapist said if I was going to be driving or riding for a long period of time to get a well-fitted back brace to wear while traveling. I have found it extremely helpful.
– If you are driving and the steering wheel vibration bothers you, like it does me, wear soft gloves to help. Plus, with the sun beating on the on the steering wheel it is too hot to handle, gloves will help with that too. Even if you have a sunscreen up, the heat of summer will heat the steering wheel and distract you when driving.
– Pillows to sit on will help vibration from the road on your bottom from bothering you. We had an air coil pillow for this purpose. It was perfect.
– A pillow along the small of your back may help your comfort as you drive.
– You may need a pillow along the whole of your back for vibrations.
– If you are a passenger, you may need to put a pillow on the floor for your feet to sit on for the vibration of the floorboard. I know I did.
Swelling of your Feet & Arms
Feeling of the Air Conditioner Blowing on Your Arms
– Wear Compression socks on your legs to help with swelling. This will also help over sensitize your nerve endings and the pain will probably lessen. That is what it does for my arms.
– Also get smaller compression socks for your arms, cut the feet out of course. This will do the same thing for your arms. I do this all the time and it helps me immensely. The air conditioning or fan doesn’t bother me. The pain eases and my nerves ease as well.
– Make sure you take water so that your thirst does not cause a distraction. Do not take a drink, however until you are at a stop.
Before You Start Driving:
– Make sure you have make all the seat and mirror adjustments and you are as comfortable as you can be.
– Make sure everyone in the car has their seat belt buckled.
– Make sure everyone in the car knows they have to be quiet and not to become a distraction for you. Be sure that they understand the situation.
Stop Every 2 Hours
– Stop at least every 2 hours if you are taking a long trip and switch drivers if you can. If not, then stop for at least 15 minutes. Stretch, walk a little, get the kinks out, go to the bathroom, do whatever it takes to get you alert. If that means eat a meal, then do so. If that means take a nap then do that. Don’t get back on the road if you are tired and you are alone. Don’t get back on the road if that means you are in a lot of pain because that means that you will be very distracted. Stay on your break until you get everything under control again before you start driving again. Make the road trip safe for yourself and others. Make absolutely sure all of your distractions are under control.
If You Get Leg Cramps When You Are Driving:
– Take some more magnesium glycinate, vitamin D3, potassium, or, if you don’t have a heart problem, lick some salt. If you have some rub some magnesium cream on your leg. Then walk the cramp out. If it is in your foot, stand on your toes, or rub the tendon in the arch of your foot until it goes away and then keep rubbing it. I get these once in a while and I usually end up having to take potassium and salt. I have always had a problem with low salt.
Peripheral – means beyond the brain and spine.
Neuro – means related to nerves.
Pathy – means disease.
Neuropathy is a complicated problem of damaged or diseased nerves, usually involving Peripheral Nerves, those nerves that are outside the Central Nervous System and the other main nervous systems. The Peripheral Nerves usually stand alone, but can be a bundle of nerves too, i.e., Bell’s Palsy, carpal tunnel syndrome, ulna tunnel syndrome (elbow), tarsal tunnel syndrome (ankle), and radial peripheral neuropathy (radial nerve damage).
Peripheral Neuropathy means nerves that carry messages back and forth to the brain and spinal cord from and to the rest of the body are damaged or diseased. There are a few things we know about Peripheral Neuropathy.
· It is a common condition, believe it or not, it is estimated that upward of 20 million Americans suffer from it. It can be a complication of different medical conditions and can occur at any age, but is usually found in people age 55 or older.
· Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common type of mononeuropathy. It is called an overuse strain injury, which occurs when the nerve that travels through the wrist is compressed. People whose work requires repeated motions with the wrist (such as assembly-line workers, physical laborers, and those who use computer keyboards for prolonged periods) are at greater risk.
· ‘Neuropathy can affect nerves that control muscle movement (motor nerves) and those that detect sensations such as coldness or pain (sensory nerves). In some cases, it can affect internal organs, such as the heart, blood vessels, bladder, or intestines. Neuropathy that affects internal organs is called an autonomic neuropathy. This rare condition can cause low blood pressure or problems with sweating.
· Polyneuropathy accounts for the greatest number of peripheral neuropathy cases. It occurs when multiple peripheral nerves throughout the body malfunction at the same time. Polyneuropathy can have a wide variety of causes, including exposure to certain toxins such as with alcohol abuse, poor nutrition (particularly vitamin B deficiency), and complications from diseases such as cancer or kidney failure.
· One of the most common forms of chronic polyneuropathy is diabetic neuropathy, a condition that occurs in people with diabetes. It is more severe in people with poorly controlled blood sugar levels. Though less common, diabetes can also cause a mononeuropathy.’ (WebMD)
· There are three types of nerves that can be involves; autonomic nerves, motor nerves and the sensory nerves.
· Physical trauma (like my car accident), repetitive injury (as in carpal tunnel syndrome), infection (strep, mono, shingles, Lyme disease, HIV), metabolic problems (malnutrition, etc.), exposure to toxins and some drugs can all lead to neuropathy.
· Diabetes has the most cases of neuropathy, especially if the sugar levels are not under control. What is sad is that up to 50% of people with this may be completely free of symptoms.
· When you have Diabetes, you need to do a foot check at least once a year, as well as an eye check. This is something you should have been told when you were diagnosed. I bet they didn’t tell you that you should also be checked for neuropathy as well. If not, that should be part of your routine Diabetes check.
· Neuropathy can’t be treated; however, the Doctor should not just say you have Neuropathy and stop there. He/she needs to keep searching to find the source of the problem.
· Now as for toxins, you need to identify what they are and then remove them from your life. If it is a drug, you need to stop it before it can cause any further damage. Some of these drugs, however, some you might not want to stop, i.e., chemotherapy medication or medicines used to treat HIV. There are 40 drugs known to cause neuropathy! For example, in my case I can’t take Neurontin because I completely lose the use of my body from the waist down. If I continued to use it, I would end up a paraplegic.
There are also other conditions that can cause neuropathy.
· B12 of folate vitamin deficiencies as well as Vitamin D, Zinc and other vitamins and minerals. In other words, poor nutrition and vitamin deficiencies. You need to get your blood tested every 3 months to be sure that your levels where they need to be. Nutrition is so important in so many ways.
· Poisons (toxins) such as insecticides and solvents.
· Cancers such as lymphoma and multiple myeloma.
· Alcohol excess can not only damage your liver, but high alcohol levels in the body can cause nerve damage. (Alcoholism)
· Chronic liver disease
· If your kidneys are not functioning normally, for whatever reason, an imbalance of salts and chemicals can cause peripheral neuropathy.
· Thyroid disease that has not been diagnosed or is not being treated properly.
· Infections as I’ve already mentioned. Guillain-Barré syndrome is the name given to a specific type of peripheral neuropathy triggered by infection.
· Connective tissue diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome and systemic lupus erythematosus.
· Some inflammatory diseases including celiac disease, especially if it isn’t diagnosed and handled well.
· Inherited diseases
· Then in about 30% of cases there is just no known cause for the peripheral neuropathy.
I have Radial Peripheral Neuropathy on my right forearm next to where my original injury is and even though my RSD/CRPS is sleeping, but that area is still active, especially if I have been typing too much. It feels like I have my arm in a vise and someone is tightening it and they will not stop. It is, at times like this, that I cannot stand to have even a fly land on that area. I cannot stand any kind of wind or air movement on that area. That section of my arm has atrophied and caved in. It is hard to the touch and if you feel it, you can feel the two arm bones easily. All of the muscle seems to have disappeared. There it really bothers me when I type, so either I have to take a break, type slower (which is hard for me) or use what I have learned with my holistic methods. Sometimes I have to wear a compression leg sock on my arm. I just cut the heel off. I have to get a small. The compression sock confuses my brain because of the over-sensation being sent to it and so the pain stops. Then it protects it from the air and insects. When I have that sock on, people can touch that arm and it doesn’t bother me at all. I discovered this when I had RSD/CRPS and I used to wear prom gloves. It became quite the thing for the people who knew me in the RSD community.
I also have ulnar carpal syndrome in both elbows. I had to wear a thick sleeve with heavy padding on the outside of the elbow for a year. It was so hot in the summer. However, if I didn’t my little finger, ring finger, and half of my middle finger would be totally numb. It helped some, but my arms and hands will still go to sleep. Sometimes, when I wake up one arm or hand will be asleep and I can’t even move my fingers. I have no idea what I hit my elbows on. I did have steering marks on the underside of each arm, but the peripheral nerve damage is on the top and left side of my right arm. I have no idea what I hit the top of my arm on either. I passed out for a while.
The symptoms are similar to Fibromyalgia, but there are differences.
Tingling and numbness.
Pins and needles and hypersensitivity.
Increased pain or the loss of ability to feel pain.
Loss of ability to detect changes in heat and cold.
Loss of co-ordination and proprioception.
Burning, stabbing, lancing, boring or shooting pains - which may be worse at night.
Skin, hair or nail changes.
Foot and leg ulcers, infection and gangrene
How Do You Get Diagnosed?
First you go to a good neurologist. This isn’t something you leave to your family doctor, although he/she will need to refer you to one. Make a list of all of your symptoms, when they started, what you were doing within a week before they started, i.e. a car accident, a fall, an illness. Take all of your medications, including those you have recently stopped. Include in your medication list marijuana if you use it for pain. List any poisons or toxins to which you have been exposed. Talk to your family so that you have a history of any family members with neuropathy. Once you have done all of this you are ready for your appointment. Make sure you remember to take your list. You might even put it on your phone.
The first thing the neurologist is going to do is ask you lots of questions and you will have all the answers if you did your homework I listed in the above paragraph. He/she will also probably ask about your general health, alcohol consumption, and your sexual history. Now with Fibromyalgia, you probably don’t have much of one, but be truthful. Also, be truthful about your alcohol consumption, recreational drug use, that kind of thing.
The next thing the neurologist is going to do is a thorough examination. If it hurts, don’t keep it inside like so many of us do, but let him know. How can he help you if you keep your pain from him?
· He is going to look at your skin to see the condition of it.
· He is going to check your pulse. Now if you have Diabetes, don’t be surprised if he/she has a hard time finding a pulse in your ankles. That is what has happened to me. He also has a hard to time getting reflexes on my knees. I have Diabetes II.
· He is going to check your ability to feel/sensations. My doctor does pin pricks on the bottom of my feet and takes the end of the tuning fork and runs it along the length of my feet. He will also take the tuning fork and check to see how you feel sensations with that.
Next, he will probably run some tests. I will tell you right now these are not fun, especially when you are already in pain, but you need to have them done to get to the cause of the problem. These are how they discovered my radial peripheral neuropathy.
‘Nerve Conduction Studies:
Nerve conduction studies check the speed with which nerves send messages.
Special electrodes are placed on the skin over the nerve being tested.
These electrodes give off very small electrical impulses that feel a bit like a small electric shock which stimulate the nerve.
Other electrodes record the electrical activity of the nerve.
The distance that the impulses travel to the other electrodes and the time that this takes allows the speed of the nerve impulse to be calculated.
In peripheral neuropathy, this speed is reduced.
This is the removal of a small part of a nerve so that it can be examined under a microscope.
Left untreated, nerve damage may worsen over time. It usually starts in the nerves farthest from the brain and spinal cord -- like those in the feet and hands. Then it may move up into the legs and arms. However, if you get treatment for the medical condition causing the nerve damage, you may be able to stop the damage -- and even reverse it.
In addition to working with your doctor to find treatment that works, you can take other steps to fight chronic pain. Getting regular exercise, keeping a healthy weight, and improving your diet may help.
Improve your diet! Improve your nutrition by taking 100% all natural vitamins and minerals. Not a one a day vitamins, but really good vitamins with no fillers in them. These you aren’t going to find in a store, but will have to buy from an individual who will be a distributor and give you personal care and attention.
Get your sugar levels to a good level. Work with your doctor and a nutritionist if you have to in order to get this done. This is something that you have to do though, no one can really do this for you. You have to discipline yourself. Get your carbs down too because carbs turn into sugar.
Get tested for Thyroid. The tests you need are: total T4, free T4, total T3, free T3, TPO antibody, thyroglobulin. Once your Thyroid gets treated correctly, the nerve damage should stop progressing.
The best way to control your pain is with holistic management. There are epilepsy drugs that can help (they all have terrible side effects, so be watchful.) There are antidepressants called serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors that can with both depression and nerve endings receptors (again they all have side effects, so be careful.) If you have urinary symptoms such as bladder control, talk to your Doctor for help. As far as pain medication, it is available, but with your Fibromyalgia, it is not recommended because pain medication causes Fibromyalgia to get worse, plus the longer you are on them, the more problems they cause.
Drink plenty of water to flush out toxins. Take your weight, divide it by half and that is the amount of water in ounces that you need to drink every day. Just plain water. Anything else you drink is above that. Stop drinking pop/soda, coffee and caffeine. Lower the amount of sugar you eat and don’t substitute it artificial sweeteners. Lower the amount of carbohydrates you eat because they turn into sugar.
Try to find clothing that is less irritating. Cotton breathes and is all natural with no synthetic material mixed in with it. Therefore, it will be cooler to wear and won’t cling to your body.
Stress certainly causes pain to increase. You need to destress your life as much as you can. A psychologist can help you with this. You can try acupuncture which can help you with not only with relaxation, but also with pain. Learn how to meditate and how to do yoga.
Move, move, move. I know many of you find that difficult, but you can start slowly at home. Even if you start out just sitting in your chair, lift your arms up as far as you can with a full water bottle in each hand. Lift them up 10 times. Then do curls bending your elbows, bringing your hand with the bottles to your shoulders and do that 10 times. Bend every joint in your hands and bend your wrist back and forth holding that for 10 counts and then side to side. If you can walk for 5 minutes 3 times a day. If your hips hurt, go ride a stationary bike. I know that sounds wrong, but your hips probably hurt because you aren’t using them. I know. When I broke my hip and went to therapy, it hurt to move my hip. Now if my hip hurts, I go to the gym and ride the bike and by 30 minutes the pain is gone for weeks. Now that is because I’ve done the work. For you, start physical therapy to get started.
Additional information for diabetes neuropathy visit this site: * Diabetic Neuropathy Patient Guide: