Dr. Oz: Fibromyalgia May Be Why You Feel Exhausted!
Dr Oz covered one of the most commonly encountered and misrepresented medical condition ‘Fibromyalgia‘ in his show titled, “Disease doctors miss most”. One in every six million people are currently suffering from this condition.
The symptoms are: exhaustion, tiredness, difficulty in getting out of bed, sore arms and legs, constant backache, joint pain, throbbing headache and brain fog.
Dr Jennifer Caudle, DO and national spokesperson for American Osteopathic Association describes, “Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome and it can be very debilitating. Most important symptom is widespread pain – pain in muscles, connective tissues and it lasts for three months or longer”. She added that in most cases, in addition to the pain,other accessory symptoms like headache, fatigue, insomnia etc creates this condition. However, it is almost an invisible condition because when doctors look at the patients they practically don’t see any major physical imbalance by medical standards although the patients continue to suffer inside.
Is there any particular Fibromyalgia risk factor regarding age, sex etc?
Yes, this condition is particularly common in women, often runs in the family, and co-exists with other medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus etc. It may sometimes get triggered by trauma or stress.
Is Fibromyalgia a life threatening condition?
Dr Caudle’s answer was “Yes”. She mentions that Fibromyalgia is not a “deadly” condition, however, it should be considered life threatening from the perspective of the decline in the quality of life of the patient.
It is important to note that there is no blood test or x-ray for fibromyalgia and each patient along with his / her accessory symptoms presents the disease differently making its diagnosis difficult. In fact, most doctors have only learnt about it recently when in 1990, the medical community established symptoms for diagnosing fibromyalgia. Now it is established as a truly medical condition and Dr Caudle is concerned that doctors still try to ignore it by telling patients ‘hypochondriac’ or ‘being stressed’ out or ‘overwhelmed’. Therefore, for the medical community to understand this condition in a better way, patients should come forward with their symptoms. Based on the current knowledge, the broad categories of fibromyalgia symptoms presented by patients are: pain, fatigue and insomnia, depression and anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome. However, there may be many other symptoms that vary from patient to patient making each case unique.
People Who Suffered From Fibromyalgia
– A guest on Dr. Oz show described her story, it all started with a flu and the next day she started to feel excruciating pain and fatigue allover her body and could not get out of her bed. She made many doctors’ visits including a neurologist and gynecologist with no solution. She had been told by everyone as being hypochondriac and just being stressed. She was on the verge of breaking down after a year long struggle with tests and running from doctor to doctor when she was finally referred to a rheumatologist and that was when she learnt about the right diagnosis and treatment options. This story obviously points to the fact that Dr Caudle mentioned earlier, most doctors don’t recognize fibromyalgia as real. She brings up the issue at this point and urges patients to be their own advocates. At the end, it is the productive collaboration between a patient and a doctor that brings out helpful results.
– Tamara, another guest on the show and a sufferer of fibromyalgia describes how her symptoms were at the beginning. She felt fatigue to the point of being a sand bag and experienced foggy brain in addition to pain. With the help of a model Dr Oz explained, the reason of fibromyalgia lies not in the muscles or bones but in the brain. It is the mechanism of how we feel pain and when that goes on the overdrive and awry, even a minute pain can overwhelm us. It may be simply put as, the ‘brain overreacting’ or “early warning system going awry”.
Treatment Options For Fibromyalgia
1) A Rheumatologist: While it is a good starting point to consult with our primary care physician about our fibromyalgia symptoms, we may need to go to a specialist for further treatment. A rheumatologist is a specialist who deals with mostly musculo-skeletal system. However, they also get to see a lot of fibromyalgia patients and are familiar with the symptoms.
2) A Neurologist: Neurologist is also another option to consider, given the recent research describing this disease as a brain condition.
Currently there are three FDA approved drugs for treatment of fibromyalgia. Dr Caudle talked about ‘osteopathic manipulative treatment’ (OMT) practiced by osteopathic physicians where they use their hands to diagnose muscle spasms and relieve muscles of those, allowing the patients body to heal by itself and restoring the body to its original range of motion. On the show, a osteopathic physician actually performed the treatment on Carol, a real person demonstrating the effectiveness of the therapy. Dr Caudle mentions that most fibromyalgia patients can benefit from this procedure. Other patients with chronic pain conditions like headache, arthritis, low back pain etc. can also avail of this treatment option.
Dr. Sean Mackey Explains More About Fibromyalgia
Dr Sean Mackey, MD, PhD and Chief of pain management at Stanford school of medicine talked about the progress that has been made understanding fibromyalgia. He explained that fibromyalgia is essentially a disease of the brain and the neurons that are processing the sensation of pain. Persons with fibromyalgia experience excruciating pain from the normal sensations in their body. Moreover, normal pain alleviating functions do not work in these people making pain more pronounced. He also told us about the trigger that starts it. Sometimes it is a trauma, injury, infection as simple as a flu. It has been learnt that all these can start a cascade of systems in the brain and create the condition. While there is no specific food that can cause fibromyalgia, it is always advisible to eat more greens and fruits rich in antioxidants that help curb inflammation to get beneficial results. It has been shown in a recent study that inflammation, such as coming from rheumatoid arthritis can really pronounce the effect of fibromyalgia. However, the inflammation in this case is not in the other tissues of the body but in the neurons themselves. This is an extremely valuable piece of information and scientists are now using this information to develop targeted therapies against fibromyalgia.