Category Archives: Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia Phantom Pain Diagnosis and Treatment

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An unexplained pain disorder is commonly labeled as fibromyalgia. The worse thing about unexplained physical pain is the depression that comes with it and not knowing the cause of it and how to effectively alleviate, or remove the pain. In many fibromyalgia cases, mental health prescription drugs are often the treatment course.

Fibromyalgia is not considered a mental illness disorder… however, it is considered a real disorder once medically substantiated through examination and lab protocol diagnosis. It has been medically determined a depressed and anxious mindset and lack of sleep can cause an autoimmune response leading to inflammatory pain-causing symptoms throughout the body. It has long been a practice for medical professionals to prescribe anti-depressants and sleep aid medications useful in treating acute and chronic phantom pain.

Many who suffer from “medically unsubstantiated and undiagnosed pain cause” are three times more likely to suffer from depression and/or anxiety. In the absence of pain causing illness and disease and physical injury, the central nervous system(s) neuro and hormonal chemicals are often found out-of- balance. Body chemical imbalances are found to trigger an inflammatory autoimmune response in many patients. This chemical imbalance and inflammatory response have a direct connection to mood and bodily pain.

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The populace who tends to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia is women between the ages of 35-55. This condition rarely takes a toll on men, the elderly, or children, although it does occur. Women with fibromyalgia in the U.S. represent over 80% of those diagnosed with this condition. The total populace affected by fibromyalgia in the US represents 2% of our population. Fibromyalgia was formally known as fibrositis (a group of disorders characterized by widespread body aches and pains in muscle, connective tissue, joints and bone). Other triggers that can activate the fibromyalgia condition include exposure to dampness, or cold and certain infections. Pain is usually worse in the morning.

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Understanding Fibromyalgia Basics: Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes pain and stiffness in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Although an exact cause of this condition has not been directly identified, it is thought that a major player to this chronic condition resides within the brains serotonin levels which affects mood. Lower levels of serotonin are known to stimulate depression and with depression psychosomatic illness often occurs. If anyone becomes depressed for a long period of time, the body gets sick and real physical pain is experienced. There seems to be a direct correlation between depression, lack of sleep, restlessness, disturbances in bowel function and super sensitivity with touch, whereas key trigger pain receptors are transmitted via the neurochemical highways from the central nervous system (brain). Fatigue combined with depression can trigger autoimmune infection, and related disease and pain anywhere in the body.

When mental and physical pain episodes go undiagnosed too long and without intervention, unhealthy habits and behavior often ensue, i.e., self-medication, sedentary and addictive drinking habits, etc. Unhealthy lifestyle untreated for long duration will lead to more psychosomatic neuro and hormonal chemical imbalances and pain and illness which can lead to other disease manifestation and cancer.

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If you have unexplainable acute/chronic phantom pain in any muscle, joint, tendons and ligaments, seek a medical opinion and request referral to a physiatrist as soon as possible before symptoms worsen.

Recall, “Fibromyalgia is considered a real disorder once medically substantiated.” However, it remains a challenge for many physicians to diagnose an exact cause of pain and treat effectively in some cases. Why? Unlike rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus there is no swelling, external-internal tissue damage, or joint-muscle deformity. The patient is healthy otherwise but suffers from chronic muscular pain and stiffness without swelling, deformity or bruising.

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When diagnosing fibromyalgia, the most common symptoms doctors look for: headaches, tender point pain, irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue etc. Psychological symptoms: depression, sleep disturbances and mood changes. Referred lab findings may medically substantiate the disorder via Elevated levels of Substance P (Chemical Nerve Signal) and Nerve Growth Factor (Found in the spinal fluid) and lower levels of serotonin (Brain Nerve Chemical) from laboratory specimen fluid samples.

“The level of chemical in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) called substance P, which transmits pain impulses to the brain, is three times higher in people with the disease than in those who do not have the condition. This likely causes someone with fibromyalgia to experience pain more intensely” [emedicinehealth WebMD 2021]

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If you experience phantom pain and have not been diagnosed with a substantiated fibromyalgia disorder, read the tips and recommendations below and seek a medical opinion and diagnosis to get the help you need and deserve now.

10 Fibromyalgia Tips and Recommendations
1. See your doctor if you experience any combination of the symptoms listed above, or (a.) Experience chronic body pain for more than 3 months above and below the waist. (b.) Feel pain in at least 11-18 possible tender points when light pressure is applied. (c.) Experiencing depression and thoughts of suicide and/or high levels of anxiety.
2. Get help if a family member exhibits: Panic attacks, hostility, restlessness, hyperactivity, sleeplessness, and physical pain.
3. If prescribed anti-depressants, a family member should watch for adverse character changes that lead to self-medication and unhealthy lifestyle habits to control pain. A two- month watch is recommended when prescribed anti-depressants to combat fibromyalgia.
4. Adverse behavioral risk is more prominent within adults under 24 and children.

5. Apply hot showers-spray localized area, use heating pads, whirlpool, hot compresses, gentle message to alleviate phantom pain.
6. Stretching and relaxation will alleviate stress, and biofeedback (doctor advisement on this one) will help ease contracted muscles causing pain.
7. The following prescription may be provided to ease pain. Aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen. Cortisone and local anesthetic injections at pain trigger points.
8. Antidepressants per doctor recommendations, e.g., Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI).
9. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as these interfere with sleep.
10. Get adequate sleep and general conditioning and exercise, proper nutrition.

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET. 2009-21 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: www.mirrorathlete.org,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.

Choose One of Six Habit Changes to Lose Body Fat

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Below there are 6 healthy habit changes anyone can apply to begin losing excess body fat weight. Once aware of the unhealthy habits causing the excess body weight…, to reverse the course requires acknowledgement of the unhealthy habit and changing it. Thereafter the unhealthy body fat will come off naturally without increasing health risk.

Identify the Unhealthy Habit Keeping You Overweight and Unfit and then make change.

Last Year’s Resolution to Lose Weight Failed You know why you failed your weight loss program. You did not resolve or change the habit(s) and behavior(s) keeping you overweight. Consuming more than one needs is often caused by daily stress at work and/or within the home environment, and/or unhealthy relationship(s), and/or sedentary habits. Also caused by bad behavioral and addictive food selection. Once you target the cause of your stress, anxiety, addiction, obsession and/or depression… remove yourself from the unhealthy environment, or relationship, or situation or obsession.

Thereafter, personal goals like weight loss and healthy fitness levels become easier to achieve and sustain long-term.

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Pain Factor All pain is causally related to mental and physical illness, disease and/or injury. And with pain comes more sedentary activities and often increased food consumption and associated weight gain. It is for this reason, if you can not manage the pain, it is advised to see a pain specialist.

Request a referral to see a physiatrist [pain management specialist]. A physiatrist specializes in all pain modalities and treats the patient holistically. Don not let pain keep you in a sedentary and out-of-control weight gain hurt locker.

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Party on Some carry the end of year festivities into the New Year. This behavior can last for months, or the entire year. This perpetual party habit will not help you lose weight. First and foremost, you must understand this is occurring and break the habit. A referral to see a behavioral therapist can help target the cause of unhealthy eating and drinking habit or bad behavior(s) and help you change it if you do not have the will power to do it on your own.

Fast foods after the Holidays – Too many Americans consume fast foods especially during the Holidays and End of Sports Season. Here lies the crux for much of Americas diabetes and obesity problems. Processed foods, especially those you find in colorful and attractive packaging almost always contain chemical substances known to cause unhealthy weight gain. When looking at labels, it is those food ingredients you can not pronounce or recognize… they are food chemical additives, preservatives and taste intensifiers that are also known to cause illness and disease and out-of-control weight gain. Choose more whole foods and avoid processed foods as much as possible.

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Learn how to differentiate between healthy and processed foods through food label ingredient awareness. Organic, or mostly organic products on the other hand such as meat from the butcher, fruits and vegetables and desserts from a store baker who displays those consumables ready to eat within days is often a better food selection. This is not to say, those products are not free of unhealthy weight gaining food ingredients and chemicals. But one thing is almost sure, those foods have not been chemically processed to sit on a shelf for 6-12 months. Buy fresh whole foods as often as possible and stay away from highly processed foods to reduce total body fat weight and sustain good health.

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Love of Baking I know the kids love your homemade cookies, cakes and pies. Remember moderation with deserts. Too much sugar, fat and salt is not good for anyone, even children with fast metabolisms. Try serving healthier desserts, i.e., fresh fruits, jello, pudding and peanut, oatmeal and pumpkin treats, etc.

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Empty Nester’s Bake for an Army – Regardless of season, there are many who continue to cook for an entire family after the children have left home. Modify home recipes for one or two to reduce leftovers and temptation to eat more than an average serving size.

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Once you make healthier lifestyle choices – your fitness levels and health and well-being will also improve as you achieve ideal body weight. Learn how author Marc Woodard’s Ageless MirrorAthlete book, “Overweight and Unfit No More” and how it can help you achieve your weight loss goals naturally and live the lifestyle you need, want and deserve now!

Learn how to live the lifestyle you need, want and deserve now!

Good health to you and your family!

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET2019-21 Copyright.  All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: www.mirrorathlete.org,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.

Effectively Treat Chronic Pain Syndrome (CPS) and Fibromyalgia

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Updated 7/8/2020 by Marc Woodard

Chronic Pain Syndrome (CPS) is a common problem that presents a major challenge to health-care providers because of its complex natural history, unclear etiology, and poor response to therapy. CPS is a poorly defined condition [Google 2020]. Whereas fibromyalgia has specific physical and hormonal markers that likely confirm the diagnosis and treatment can significantly alleviate chronic pain.

If you have no history of illness, disease or injury and have unexplainable and medically unsubstantiated pain, you may likely be diagnosed with fibromyalgia. What’s the difference between the two? Fibromyalgia is a neurosensory disorder where one feels widespread pain throughout the body, but most specifically; joint and muscle stiffness and pain with fatigue. CPS appears to manifest after ill-health, or injury has been treated and chronic pain continues on for years.

“Researchers believe repeated nerve stimulation causes the brains of people with fibromyalgia to change. This change involves an abnormal increase in levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain (neurotransmitters).”…

During the early years of fibromyalgia medical diagnosis, it was thought the pain originated from the brain; and the body’s oversensitivity to pain was somewhat of a mystery between the brain-body connections. Today, there appears to be medical consensus on likely cause of fibromyolgia pain. “Researchers believe repeated nerve stimulation causes the brains of people with fibromyalgia to change. This change involves an abnormal increase in levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain (neurotransmitters). In addition, the brain’s pain receptors seem to develop a sort of memory of the pain and become more sensitive, meaning they can overreact to pain signals” [MayoClinic 1998-20].

Ageless MirrorAthlete also covers pain management… through holistic healing mind, body and spirit modalities and principles leading to fit healthy lifestyle change.

It is now understood a cause of fibromyalgia stems from environmental factors, genetics, lifestyle, injury, illness and disease which influence the brain’s neurochemical balance and can become unbalanced. For some, these imbalances appear to be caused by environmental stressors, which triggers anxiety and depression. Mood changes, change brain chemicals… whereas brain chemical imbalances are known to cause bodily pain.

Unlike fibromyalgia which is becoming less of a mystery than it was 10 years ago… i.e., “Doctors don’t know exactly what causes CPS. It often starts with an injury or painful condition such as: Arthritis and other joint problems, Back pain, Headaches, Muscle strains and sprains, Repetitive stress injuries, e.g., when the same movement over and over puts strain on a body part” [Web MD 2005-20].

CPS can also be diagnosed as a like-fibromyalgia condition that causes muscle pain throughout the body [whereas I believe, pain depression can also change brain chemical balance]. Illness and disease and injury are also suspected triggers of CPS, e.g., “Nerve damage, Lyme disease, Broken bones, Cancer, Acid reflux or ulcers, Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Endometriosis, when tissue in the uterus grows outside of it, Surgery” [Web MD 2005-20]. For those diagnosed with CPS, it is much harder for medical specialists to explain the long term pain story after symptoms have been adequately treated and physical therapy is complete; and brain chemical(s) are in balance.

“CPS can be hard to treat, but it’s not impossible. A mix of treatments like counseling, physical therapy, and relaxation techniques can help relieve your pain and the other symptoms that come with it … The roots of CPS are both physical and mental. Some experts think that people with the condition have a problem with the system of nerves and glands that the body uses to handle stress. That makes them feel pain differently” [Web MD 2005-20].

The American College of Rheumatology diagnosis criteria has proven that the origin of pain does not solely stem from a brain signal that produces the pain. Instead a physiological chemical shortfall is present in many cases that prevent the patient from completely alleviating pain. Think of it this way… ‘A person whose immune system is down… gets a cold and can never completely get rid of it.’ So you’re always in pain. Whereas it does not take much physical, or mental stress to aggravate and exasperate ‘a weakened immune system’ and cause an acute to chronic pain condition to transpire.

The key differences between fibromyalgia versus CPS diagnosis appears to be based on three fibromyalgia markers: Muscle tenderness, joint ache pain, which produce stiffness and fatigue, often coupled with emotional stress that can last years.

Fortunately there are chemical identifiers that can determine a neurosensory interlink between the brain and spinal cord for those diagnosed with fibromyalgia. “Research has found people with fibromyalgia have abnormally low levels of the hormones serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine in their brains. Low levels of these hormones may be a key factor in the cause of fibromyalgia, as they’re important in regulating things like: mood” [Google 2020].

“When a physiatrist [pain specialist] substantiates a pain condition through lab tests that identify neurochemical brain imbalances – substantial pain alleviation treatment can be prescribed.”

CPS is often the diagnosis for chronic pain patients for lack of fibromyalgia markers/symptoms and when medical history of illness, disease and/or past injury are a likely cause of increased pain sensitivity after ill-health or injury: E.g., cancer, immune disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, herniated disk, sports injury, or car accident with radiating neuropathies, etc… Substantiated by MRI, Cat scan, x-Ray, ultra-sound, blood/urine test, other lab test markers etc.

CPS patients can also have brain chemical imbalances due to chronic pain-depression. When a physiatrist [pain specialist] substantiates a diagnosis through lab tests identifying neurochemical brain imbalances – treatment can be prescribed. However, this does not mean chronic pain can be completely resolved through pain block and elevated mood pharmaceuticals, or other alternative medical treatment regardless of the pain disorder.

Patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia today are taken much more serious than a decade ago. In May 2014 when I first wrote this article, approximately 35% of all Americans had experienced, or have had some form of short/long term chronic pain. And some 50 million had experienced partial to full disability due to chronic pain. Science has come a long way to identify and treat fibromyalgia. However, CPS appears now… in many ways become the unexplained chronic pain Phenomenon after completion of therapy and treatment of an illness, disease or injury… much like fibromyalgia was not long ago. To date ~50 million suffer from chronic pain. That’s 20% of our population. “About 20 million of them have “high-impact chronic pain” — pain severe enough that it frequently limits life or work activities” [Google 2020].

Patients diagnosed with CPS also experience the same internalizing and rationalizing effect of fibromyalgia pain patient. If a patient feels overly inhibited by medication, or under medicated to treat a chronic pain condition, that can lead to unhealthy lifestyle habits and behavioral changes: e.g., relational conflict, unhealthy diet, drinking, smoking, illegal drug use, prescription abuse, out-of-control behavior etc., which often lead to other increased health risk.

If you experience chronic pain, and/or pain depression and anxiety and experiencing a complex pain story and need help, be sure to seek medical treatment by your PCP (Primary Care Provider). Request a referral to pain management specialist [physiatrist]. Especially if you’ve not been diagnosed with CPS or Fibromyalgia and suffer from chronic pain. Get the correct diagnosis and pain alleviation treatment from a pain management specialist you need and deserve now.

Referrals,

The Free Dictionary, by Farlex. Fibromyalgia.

Dellwo, Adrienne. About.com. Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue. July 2, 2012.

Google 2020

WebMD 2020

Wikipedia. Chronic Pain.

Health Encyclopedia. Diseases and Conditions.

Singh, Manish K. Chronic Pain Syndrome. Medscape.

Woodamarc. Pain Depression Origins. Hubpages.com.

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET. 2014-20 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., www.mirrorathlete.org, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.