According to the American College of Rheumatology,
Fibromyalgia affects 3 to 6 million Americans. Other sources
say the total number affected could be 8 million people. It
primarily occurs in women of childbearing age, but children,
the elderly, and men can also be affected. (Approximately 80
percent to 90 percent of affected people are women.)
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by fatigue
and widespread pain in your muscles, ligaments and tendons.
At first, it was not considered an illness at all. Doctors
could not find any thing wrong with patients so they
believed it to be psychosomatic.
Slowly that dismissive view is changing. Published research
at Johns Hopkins, University of Pennsylvania and other top
research facilities points to immune dysfunction and cardiac
abnormalities in these illnesses. It is difficult to believe
that some doctors still regard people with Fibromyalgia and
chronic fatigue syndrome as nothing more than ‘extremely
worried well people’.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS or chronic fatigue and immune
dysfunction syndrome, CFIDS) is a chronic, often
debilitating disorder of unknown cause characterized by
fatigue, pain and cognitive disorders. Often severe
cognitive complaints differentiate the syndrome from similar
disorders and usually occur in a later stage of the disease.
There is no evidence to sustain the thought that CFS or
Fibromyalgia is a contagious disease. Contagious diseases
typically occur in well-defined clusters, either as
outbreaks or epidemics.
What Causes Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Asking what causes Fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome
can be a tricky question, depending on whom you ask. Doctors
and researchers believe there is not a single cause of
Fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. At this point
doctors are just not sure what causes these illnesses.
While the cause of Fibromyalgia is unknown, researchers have
several hypotheses about causes or what triggers the
illness. Some scientists believe that the syndrome may be
caused by an injury or trauma. This injury may affect the
central nervous system.
Fibromyalgia may be associated with changes in muscle
metabolism, such as decreased blood flow, causing fatigue
and decreased strength. Others believe an infectious agent
such as a virus in susceptible people may trigger the
syndrome, but no such agent has been identified.
Research proposes that CFS may be caused by an immunologic
dysfunction or altered capacity of certain immune functions.
One thing is certain at this time: there are no immune
disorders in CFS or Fibromyalgia patients traditionally
affiliated with disease.
That suggests a different approach is needed to reach the
state of health you want.
4 Simple Changes to Shift Your Life From Fibromyalgia or CFS
Many studies have indicated that a healthy lifestyle
including diet, exercise, relaxation techniques and
sufficient sleep offer the most effective approaches for
reducing fatigue and pain from CFS and Fibromyalgia.
A common thread in many cases seems to be a tendency to feel
better when refined sugar, caffeine, alcohol, fried foods,
red meat, and highly processed foods, are kept to a sound
personal minimum in the diet.
Try supplementing your current diet with greater quantities
of raw or lightly cooked fruits and vegetables. Try
substituting meats that are high in fat with fish or lean
poultry. Drink plenty of water and take a good vitamin
supplement to ensure that you are getting proper nutrition.
2. Quality Sleep: Seven Ways to Become Sleeping Beauty
This is perhaps the most important component of treating
CFS/FM. The following tips will help you achieve more
restful sleep. Try to follow as many of them as possible to
obtain the best level of sleep you can:
· Try to go to bed earlier and at the same time everyday.
Even on weekends, try to go to bed and wake at the same
time. This will help your body get used to a set schedule
and provide for a more restful sleep.
· Try to avoid any caffeine-containing beverages such as
coffee or soda before going to bed. It is a stimulant that
will keep you awake at night. Also, alcohol drinking should
be kept to a minimum in Fibromyalgia sufferers.
· Don’t eat a lot before bedtime. Generally, try not to eat
within two hours of going to bed. Particularly avoid spicy
or fatty foods and try to keep your “midnight snacks” to a
· Ensure that you have a comfortable mattress and pillow.
Sometimes, people’s poor sleeping habits stem from poor
mattresses. What constitutes a comfortable bed is different
for us all. Usually something that is not too firm and not
too soft should be acceptable. Cervical pillows mold to the
natural shape of your neck and eliminate any unwanted
stresses on the muscles of your neck and upper back.
Choosing the appropriate bed and pillow is often done by
trial and error. Find the combination that gives you the
most restorative sleep and stick with it.
· A regular exercise program will help you have a more deep
and refreshing sleep on a consistent basis.
· Try and avoid daytime naps. By doing so you will be more
tired at night and be able to sleep deeper, thereby waking
up more refreshed. Naps may seem like they provide more
sleep time, but they are counterproductive to getting rest.
Naps during the day will affect how well you will sleep
during the night and it gets the body out of sync with the
regular sleep pattern, leading to insomnia at night.
· Keep a proper sleeping environment. This involves a quiet
and cool room. A slightly cooler room is ideal for sleeping
since this mimics your internal temperature drop during
sleep and silence is more conducive to sleep.
3. Exercise: You Can Be More Than A Couch Potato
Many studies have indicated that exercise is the most
effective component in managing Fibromyalgia, and patients
must expect to undergo a long-term exercise program.
Physical activity prevents muscle atrophy, increases a sense
of well-being, and over time reduces fatigue and pain
itself. Be sure to consult your physician before beginning
any exercise program.
4. Relaxation Techniques: Even When You’re In Pain
Relaxation and stress-reduction techniques are proving to be
helpful in managing chronic pain. There is certainly
evidence that people with Fibromyalgia have a more stressful
response to daily conflicts and encounters than those
without the disorder. A number of relaxation and stress-
reduction techniques have proven to be helpful in managing
· Deep breathing exercises.
· Muscle relaxation techniques.
· Massage therapy.
Your goal with these lifestyle suggestions is to modify the
choices that are within your control. But obviously, many
things in your life are not in your control and impact you
on many different levels. But, you CAN gain control over
these areas too.