Fibromyalgia: The In’s, the Out’s and the Details

August 29, 2014:  Traci Patterson – Owner, Advanced Pathways Hypnosis

Fibromyalgia affects approximately 1 out of every 50 people. Experts say many more people are suffering from it because they go undiagnosed.  At this time, there is no test for fibromyalgia.  The diagnosis is made through exclusion of other diagnosis, syndromes or diseases.


Who Gets Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is far more common in women than in men.  Some interesting studies show that women have approximately seven times less serotonin in the brain.  That may explain why fibromyalgia syndrome, or FMS, is more common in women.

Another theory states that fibromyalgia is caused by biochemical changes in the body and may be related to hormonal change.  In addition, some (but not all) people with fibromyalgia have low levels of human growth hormone, which may contribute to the muscle pain.

Some have even speculated that lower levels of a brain neuro transmitter called serotonin leads to lower pain thresholds or an increased sensitivity to pain.  Serotonin is associated with a calming, anxiety-reducing reaction.  The lower pain threshold in fibromyalgia patients may be caused by a reduced effectiveness of the body’s natural endorphin painkillers and the increased presence of a chemical called, “substance P”.  Substance P amplifies pain signals.

There have been some studies that link fibromyalgia to sudden trauma to the brain and spinal cord.  Keep in mind, theories about what causes fibromyalgia are merely speculative.


What Are the Risk Factors for Fibromyalgia?

Risk factors are distinct characteristics researchers have identified that may increase your chances of getting certain illnesses.  While researchers have identified some common risk factors for fibromyalgia, there are still many people with the disease who have none of these traits.  Also, some women have fibromyalgia with certain diseases, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, erythematosus (SLE), and other autoimmune disease.  Yet, others have fibromyalgia without any underlying diseases.

Possible risk factors for fibromyalgia include:

  • Gender (females are more susceptible)
  • Genetic disposition (may be inherited)
  • Hormonal changes
  • Poor physical conditioning
  • Surgery
  • Trauma to the brain or spinal cord (after an injury, accident, illness or emotional stress)


Why Fibromyalgia Can Be a Challenge to Diagnose:

There are a number of reasons why diagnosis fibromyalgia can be difficult.  Let’s start with the following:


Doctors often need to rule out other conditions first.

Fibromyalgia can mimic other conditions.  Seemingly unrelated symptoms may lead your doctor to suspect other diseases or syndromes.  Doctors often test for other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS), Lyme disease, and mononucleosis before reaching a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.


Blood tests and X-rays can’t be used to diagnose fibromyalgia.

Since there are no tests, at this time, that can determine whether or not you have fibromyalgia, your doctor needs to rely solely on your symptoms.  And these symptoms often vary from person to person and from day to day.  It’s important to tell your doctor about your symptoms so her or she can understand the pain you’re feeling.


Not all doctors have diagnosed and/or treated fibromyalgia before.

Although fibromyalgia is not a rare condition, some doctors are more experienced with it than others.  So, it is important to find a doctor with the experience in making the fibromyalgia diagnosis and treating the condition.  Rheumatologist, neurologists, and pain management specialists frequently diagnose and treat fibromyalgia.


Guidelines to help YOU, and your doctor diagnose fibromyalgia:

There are guidelines that can be very helpful in the diagnosis of fibromyalgia.  In 1990, the American College of Rheumatology published the following criteria for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia:

  • Widespread pain above and below the waist, on both the right and left sides of your body, and in the axial skeleton (your skull, spine, rib cage, and the bones in your throat and ears) for at least 3 months.
  • Tenderness or pain in 11 of the 18 “tender points” on your body

Based on these guidelines, your doctor may perform a tender point exam.  Your doctor will do this by applying pressure to these 18 points and counting how many you find tender.

In 2010, the American College of Rheumatology published a new set of preliminary guidelines.  These guidelines include a widespread pain index that assesses the number of painful body regions, and a scale that assesses the severity of symptoms such as fatigue, sleep problems, comprehension problems, and others in the body. 

By using one or both of these sets of guidelines, along with tests to rule out other possible conditions, it is possible for your doctor to make a fibromyalgia diagnosis.  So, if you think you may have fibromyalgia, talk to your doctor about what steps you can take towards an accurate diagnosis.


What Are the Treatment Options for Fibromyalgia?


At least some (gentle) exercise and stretching is a very important part in controlling fibromyalgia.  It helps balance blood sugar, improves circulation, and can slow the potential nerve damage resulting from this condition.  Swimming or riding a stationary bike may be preferable to running because they are low impact exercises.  Yoga is also a great option.



Diet is crucial when addressing fibromyalgia.  Alcohol and tobacco should be eliminated at all costs. Other harmful foods to be avoided include; processed foods, foods with processed sugar, fast foods, junk foods, sugary drinks and sodas of all types, and foods containing trans-fatty acids. Products sprayed with pesticide should also be avoided.

The nervous system can be negatively impacted by sweeteners and additives contained in diet soda and processed foods such as MSG and aspartame, etc. Individuals suffering from fibromyalgia should have a balanced intake of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.



In addition to proper diet and exercise, clinical studies have shown time and again that vitamins and herbs can be very effective at preventing and even reversing signs of fibromyalgia.

B vitamins can be very effective at helping to control fibromyalgia but in most cases you get what you pay for. All forms of vitamins are not the same. In fact, there are 4 different forms of vitamin B12 alone. Most supplements use the cheapest available form of ingredients and since there is very little government oversight in the supplement industry, it is hard to know that what you are getting will be the best form to fight fibromyalgia.

Along with B vitamins, you should also consider vitamin D and a powerful anti-oxidant such as alpha lipoic acid.



In recent years 3 medications have been approved specifically for the treatment of fibromyalgia; pregabalin (Lyrica®), duloxetine (Cymbalta®) and milnacipran (Savella®).  Unfortunately, most of these medications come with a host of unwanted side effects. 

People experience fibromyalgia differently, so fibromyalgia medicines don’t produce the same results in everyone. Often doctors prescribe non-narcotic pain relievers (tramadol), low doses of antidepressants (tricyclic antidepressants/serotonin reuptake inhibitors) or benzodiazepines.

Please consult your physician for an appropriate medication for you or your loved one.


Working with a certified hypnotist that also holds a certification in ‘Pain Management’ has proven to be a great ‘Drug-free’ alternative treatment option for fibromyalgia patients.  A good program should include methods such as imagery, cell memory, bio-feedback, light-sound therapy, EMT, and other somatic therapies.  And learning self-hypnosis too.  This combination has allowed fibromyalgia patients to regain their lives, to go from an average pain level of 9-10/10 and take it down to a 0/10. 


Although they state there is no cure for fibromyalgia, or once you have it you will always have it… It is important to realize there are treatment options available.  Traditional trained physicians will most likely push for medications, but it is important to weigh out the side effects.  Look at all of your options if you or a love one is diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  Know your options! 

If you would like more information on ‘Drug-free’ treatment options for fibromyalgia via hypnosis please contact Advanced Pathways Hypnosis.  We are known for our compassionate pain management program in treating fibromyalgia, chronic pain, neuropathic pain and other health and wellness issues.


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