Fibromyalgia symptoms can be ambiguous and varied which makes it a complex condition to diagnose accurately. Most doctors have heard of the disease but have little in depth knowledge of its true nature.
According to Dr David Brady, Functional Medicine Practitioner and author of the Fibro Fix, doctors often use fibromyalgia as a “throwaway diagnosis” for a patient presenting with nonspecific pain and fatigue.
Dr Brady has studied Fibromyalgia for the past 20 years. It is his mission to help educate both doctors and the public about the true nature of the condition.
In this vein, on a podcast, Dr Brady gave an excellent outline on the exact origin and fibromyalgia symptoms. He also gave a fascinating insight into how to diagnose fibromyalgia correctly.
The Origin of Fibromyalgia Symptoms
According to Dr Brady, if you ask any doctor, “What is fibromyalgia?” their answer is, “it’s a muscle problem”. In reality, the origin of the condition is in the central nervous system (CNS). The problem originates in the CNS and is expressed or perceived elsewhere in the body.
The problem originates in the CNS and is expressed or perceived elsewhere in the body.
According to Dr Brady, the pain of fibromyalgia has particular characteristics which include;
- People with fibromyalgia often comment that they “hurt everywhere”. They have “global pain” rather than hurting in many different areas of the body.
- People with fibromyalgia pain feel it in the soft tissues such as the ligaments, muscles and tendons. The pain is not usually of the joints. It is not arthritis. If there is joint pain, then that may suggest a type of inflammatory joint disease such as Rheumatoid arthritis.
- The pain is constant and does not come and go.
- People with fibromyalgia are hypotensive to touch.
- Pain is not the only symptom of fibromyalgia. There are always other associated symptoms such as fatigue.
Fibromyalgia fatigue is often persistent, ongoing where the person does not have much energy at all.
People with fibromyalgia have specific problems with their sleep. These issues include:
- They find it hard to go to sleep because of a “racing mind”.
- They sleep for an abnormally long time, up to 14 hours.
- On rising, they feel like they have slept.
Dr Brady associates fibromyalgia with hypersensitive gastrointestinal symptoms such as:
- A lot of bloating and gas particularly after eating.
- Often there is constipation and occasionally diarrhoea.
After negative finding from testing by gastroenterologist these symptoms are often diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Studies show that there is a 100% correlation with fibromyalgia and the person also fitting the criteria for irritable bowel syndrome.
The opposite is not true. So not all people with IBS have fibromyalgia.
Dr Brady characterises fibromyalgia by anxiety and some level of depression.
6. Early Life Trauma
People with Fibromyalgia have often experienced some level of early life trauma. This trauma could be physical, sexual or verbal abuse.
But also it could be from being brought up in an unstable environment due to:
- Moving homes often.
- Being a child of divorce.
- A rancorous relationship between the mother and father.
- An authoritative, demanding parent, particularly a father figure to a young girl where she could never feel she would measure up, never be good enough no matter how well she did.
Research shows that fibromyalgia occurs in women more than men.
Diagnosis of Exclusion
Unlike Diabetes or Hypothyroidism, there is no medical test for Fibromyalgia. As such, Fibromyalgia is a diagnosis of exclusion.
This conclusion means that a person should only be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia when all other possible reasons for their symptoms have been ruled out.
According to Dr Brady, three main possible conditions may mimic Fibromyalgia. These conditions include:
- Mitochondrial dysfunction
- Myofascial pain
A healthcare practitioner should rule out the above conditions before making a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.
This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Now I would like to hear from you. Do have Fibromyalgia? What have you tried to help with their symptoms? Let us know in the comments below.