The Health Index
Fibromyalgia is one of the pain syndromes. It is characterised by deep muscle pain in various parts of the body. In addition, sufferers report exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, and sleep disturbances.
In the case of a pronounced fibromyalgia flare-up, a person’s performance can be considerably impaired. Typically in fibromyalgia, doctors find no organic causes for the symptoms when examining the affected body parts (e.g. using MRI or ultrasound).
Because of the diffuse chronic pain that can occur anywhere in the body, fibromyalgia is sometimes also referred to as “generalised soft-tissue rheumatism”. 80 per cent of people with confirmed fibromyalgia are middle-aged women.
What are the causes?
Fibromyalgia is a recognised clinical picture. So far, however, the causes have not been identified. For that reason, many people with fibromyalgia are still labelled as hypochondriacs or thought to have mental health problems. The disease is similar to rheumatism and mainly affects women.
One possible cause is disturbed pain processing. Normally, insignificant pain stimuli are filtered out in the spinal cord, so that only pain stimuli with a warning function reach the brain. In fibromyalgia, this filter does not seem to work anymore, so that almost all pain stimuli reach the brain. As a result, people with fibromyalgia perceive stimuli as pain that would not be painful for healthy people. The reason for this lowered pain threshold has not yet been fully explained. Genetic predisposition probably plays a role.
Research has shown that many patients have altered nerve fibres. In addition, severe stress and trauma can trigger fibromyalgia. Despite permanent pain in muscles and connective tissue, fibromyalgia does not cause any detectable changes in the bone and muscle apparatus. Because of the unspecific symptoms, it can take a long time before fibromyalgia is finally diagnosed. In the medical treatment of the chronic disease, the aim is to influence the disturbed perception of pain.
Fibromyalgia is not curable, but the symptoms can be alleviated with customised therapy. Besides the GP, pain therapists, neurologists, psychologists, and physiotherapists may be able to help.
What are the symptoms?
Fibromyalgia is characterised by unspecific symptoms, such as pain all over the body, stiff and immobile joints, and a feeling of complete exhaustion. The symptoms can occur in flares and with varying intensity, influenced for example by emotional stress or lack of sleep.
How can a nutrition practitioner help?
A targeted therapeutic diet has been shown make the pain more bearable for many of those affected. Nutritional therapy for fibromyalgia aims at reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. A nutrition practitioner will ask questions about your overall health and health history, diet, lifestyle and exercise habits.
They will look at your food diary to see where there may be room for improvement. Your nutrition practitioner may also recommend functional testing to assess your nutrition status. They will then develop a customised diet, supplement and lifestyle plan for you.