The most common symptoms of Fibromyalgia are aches and pains of the muscles, joints, and the skin. I recently had a patient who told me that when her Fibromyalgia flared, it hurt her to be touched, no matter how gentle the touch. Other symptoms may include:
- Stiffness when waking in the morning
- Headaches, including migraines
- Difficulty sleeping and non-restful sleep
- Restless leg syndrome
- Irritable bowel syndrome and kidney and bladder problems
- Weight gain
Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome have many of the same symptoms. It is believed that many people who suffer from one syndrome also suffer from the other. Veterans returning from war who experience "Gulf War Syndrome" also suffer from many of the same symptoms.
People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, spinal arthritis, or lupus are at a risk for also developing FMS. Women who suffer from Fibromyalgia may find that their Fibromyalgia flares when their hormones fluctuate.
For this reason, women who are menstruating, pregnant, or entering menopause may find that they have more frequent episodes of FMS.
Causes of Fibromyalgia
The exact cause of Fibromyalgia is not certain. It is thought that the amount of serotonin a person produces may be one factor. Those who produce less serotonin in the brain may be at risk for developing FMS. Because women produce significantly less serotonin, this may explain why more women than men suffer from Fibromyalgia. Causes of Fibromyalgia may be one certain thing, or they may be a combination of several different factors. Causes can include:
- A stress related incident such as a car accident, a sudden injury, or post-traumatic stress syndrome
- A medical condition that affects the central nervous system such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus
- Infections that may trigger Fibromyalgia symptoms
Currently, scientists are examining the link between hormonal disturbances that combined with chemical imbalances can lead to Fibromyalgia syndrome. This combination can lead to ineffective nerve signaling within the body. The nerve endings can signal to the brain that there is a painful stimulus, when none actually exists. It is also thought that the nerve bundles in the body could be compressed or have pressure on them that cause them to signal pain to the brain.
Fibromyalgia and Diet
One of the things that makes Fibromyalgia such a unique syndrome is that it affects each person in a completely different manner. This remains true when it comes to Fibromyalgia and diet. A diet that works at controlling symptoms for one person may not work for another.
Diet does play a role in treatment, just not the same, specific diet for each person. While there is not a certain diet for each person, there are several foods that seem to trigger symptoms in each person. These foods should be avoided by anyone suffering from FMS.
- Aspartame - Aspartame, which is commonly known as NutraSweet, is an excitotoxin that stimulates nerve endings.
- MSG - MSG or mono-sodium glutamate is also classified as an excitotoxin.
- Nitrates - Nitrates are usually found in highly processed meats such as bologna. The body can't tolerate them well, and sufferers of FMS tolerate them even less.
- Caffeine- Caffeine is often used to relieve the fatigue associated with FMS. However, after the caffeine wears off, patients with Fibromyalgia are more likely to "crash."
Of course, these foods are not good for anyone and I always recommend that all patients steer clear of them. I have noticed that no matter the disease or condition, eating a healthy, balanced diet, composed mainly of natural foods, always seems to help the condition.