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Treating Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS)

According to WebMD, more than 12 million Americans suffer from Fibromyalgia. It is described as the most commonly diagnosed arthritis-related illness following osteoarthritis. It is considered to be a rheumatic condition, which means it’s related to conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus and other less common connective tissue disorders. One might be inclined to believe that with this many sufferers there is both agreement on how to treat it and a consensus about what causes it.

Doctors and researchers are in agreement about its symptoms (for the most part), but depending upon who you talk with, you will get a different response about what exactly Fibromyalgia is and its causality. Women are ten times more likely to be diagnosed than are men. For the majority, diagnosis is made between the ages of 25 and 60.

Symptoms vary from person to person and while person A may have one set of symptoms, person B may experience something entirely different. Indeed person C might experience a combination of both A and B.

Some experience aches and pains in some or all joints, tendons, their muscles, and pain up and down the spine. For most people exercise seems to abate symptoms, even if only for the duration of exercise. For others, exercise causes even more pain. For some, sleep and relaxation help tremendously, and sadly, for others, both cause major discomfort. Some people describe a burning sensation all over their skin.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Headaches (including migraines)
  • Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
  • Weakness
  • Alternating between diarrhea and constipation
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Muscle spasms, especially while sleeping and in the calves
  • Depression
  • Carpel Tunnel-like symptoms in wrists
  • Extreme sensitivity to both cold and hot – especially in the extremities
  • Generalized fatigue
  • Vertigo
  • Trouble concentrating – often referred to as “fibro fog”

Diagnosing and Treating Fibromyalgia the Big Pharma Way

So, what happens if you believe, based on either this article, talking with family and friends, or in doing your own research, that you have Fibromyalgia? You just go to the doctor and she or he gives you a simple test to determine whether you have it, right? This would assume that after nearly 50 years of diagnoses made of Fibromyalgia that there was a test available. Wouldn’t that just make sense? Fibromyalgia is taken so seriously by Big Pharma and researchers, that they deem it a condition of exclusion, rather than its own condition. In other words, your doctor will first give you a physical and take note of your symptoms. Then she will order up blood tests – usually a chem and CBC work up to rule out other more common illness. When that doesn’t work, expect to go through a battery of tests, be given three or four different diagnoses and in fact, treated for each one. Then one day, after an exhaustive battle with your doctor to get her or him to just listen to you, pleading for relief because the pain and other symptoms have by no means diminished, out of the blue (so it seems), you get the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. For some these words take weeks, others months and sadly for some, years to hear them.

Some may be elated to hear those words – finally, it all makes sense. Honestly, herein lies the next problem – now what’re you gonna do? Having finally concluded this is your “problem,” your doctor wants to treat you the way she or he wants to treat you for everything – shove a pill, one that’s made by one of the large Big Pharma companies – down your throat.

If I may, for two reasons, let me please advise you to tell your doctor, “No thanks!” For one thing, if stuff hits the fan, the way we know it will, taking a Big Pharma drug today won’t help you tomorrow when you’re dependent upon it and you either can’t afford it or getting to your doctor every six months for a refill is just not practicable. You already know I am going to advocate an alternative therapy, but before I do, I want you to make an informed decision, which brings me to reason number two. The second reason is simple: before taking any drug, take a look at the ingredients of Big Pharma’s solution to treating Fibromyalgia. There are several drugs on the market and each contain a combination of components, which I’ll list according to potency in each drug:

  • Anti-depressant – used, they say, to treat the depression associated with the condition. Personally, this leads me to believe that they think it’s all in your head.
  • Anticonvulsant – Excuse me?
  • Narcolepsy – Fibromyalgia sufferers complain of inability sleeping, not falling asleep abruptly and without warning
  • Pain relievers – would love to know what type?
  • Sleep Aids – most of which are addictive

Alternatives – Yes, You Do Have Them

Many people with Fibromyalgia are finding their own alternatives to treating the symptoms. Indeed, many have been known to start Big Pharma’s course of treatment and either find the sleep aid addictive or aren’t concentrating any worse with the antidepressant than they were with fibro fog. Many women I talked with for research of this article reported hating the drugs they were on and found that their pain increased or stayed the same. None reported a decrease in pain with Big Pharma’s solution. They continued looking for answers. Some found acupuncture, acupressure and deep tissue massages to be helpful. Shoot, I wouldn’t say “no” to a massage!

Some advocate increasing their exercise – sounds like a plan. Others suggested that biofeedback works wonders. I know it has helped me for my migraines, when I remember to use it. Personally, as a fan of most anything that isn’t a quick fix, I liked them all. I am not only in survivalist mode most of the time, I am also just not a big fan of Big Pharma’s remedies. I have this feeling if all of them as a collective group really wanted to, they could find cures to diseases, but it’s just not profitable to do so. So, we are left to our own devices to keep ourselves healthy.

I can say that one thing that all the women I spoke with have in common is the belief in alternative therapies, including herbs and vitamins. An increase in calcium, magnesium and zinc was recommend by a few and most said there are several herbs that they have found helpful. Problem was, because each woman I spoke with had different symptoms from each other, so no two were taking the same combination of herbs.

In this situation, might I suggest visiting both and Quite honestly, if I had Fibromyalgia, knowing that there are herbs to treat most, if not all the symptoms, associated with Fibromyalgia certainly makes me feel more comfortable than shoving a pill down my throat to treat depression that has little to no effect on any of the extremely significant symptoms that bring FMS patients to their doctor.

As with anything written for Off the Grid News, we would love to get your feedback on this article. Do you have or know someone with Fibromyalgia? If so, what is working for you or them? FMS sufferers continue to search for answers and aren’t finding them as readily as they’d like. Any comments you’d like to share would be greatly welcome—either here or on our Facebook page.

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