It’s Time to Take a New Approach to Fibromyalgia!

It’s Time to Take a New Approach to Fibromyalgia!

By Donna Gregory Burch.

Do you view fibromyalgia as an incurable disease or a symptom of a deeper problem within the body? The answer to that question makes a difference in how we manage life with fibromyalgia and if recovery is possible.

If we believe fibromyalgia is a disease in and of itself, we take on the baggage that comes with that. Namely:

  1. There is no cure for fibromyalgia. We will live with chronic pain and 50+ other life-sucking symptoms the rest of our lives. Oh joy!
  2. Certain drugs and exercise may lessen our symptoms but probably not, according to clinical data.
  3. We need to suck it up and wait for some pharmaceutical company to develop a drug to fix us. Of course, said drug is not really going to cure us because there’s no money to be made in doing that. It’ll just stifle symptoms and cause its own set of side effects in the process – likely at a cost many of us can’t afford!

That’s a pretty dismal view of life with fibromyalgia, and I personally don’t accept it. I think it’s time for us to start looking at fibromyalgia differently! Instead of popping pills and waiting for a cure, let’s be proactive and focus our energies on actually healing the body, not just treating symptoms.

There’s ongoing debate on whether fibromyalgia is an actual disease or a syndrome, which a collection of symptoms of unknown origin. My view is that fibromyalgia symptoms are a signal that something has gone horribly wrong in the body.

I want to be clear: I am NOT saying fibromyalgia isn’t real! Our fibro symptoms definitely exist. They scream at us all day, every day. But I do not believe a fibromyalgia diagnosis is a life sentence of misery.

People can and do beat this condition!

I think if we can figure out the underlying cause(s) of our symptoms, recovery may be possible – or at least a noticeable improvement in our overall quality of life.

You’re probably wondering, “How am I supposed to figure out what’s causing my fibromyalgia symptoms when even my doctors can’t?” If you step outside the world of conventional medicine, there ARE known causes for the symptoms that manifest as fibromyalgia. Undiagnosed infections, heavy metal toxicity, mold exposure, food allergies and poor gut health, among others, can all cause and intensify fibromyalgia symptoms.

Our bodies are beautiful, elegant machines. They are designed to heal, so if we support our bodies in that effort, improvement is possible. We know, at least anecdotally, that certain therapies can and do improve the quality of life for those with fibromyalgia. We can also learn from those who have already recovered and find patterns in the steps they took to regain their lives.

So how can you support your body in healing? Over the coming months (or more likely, years because this topic is so rich with material), I am planning to do a series of articles on that very topic:

  1. I’ll cover the high rate of misdiagnosis in the fibromyalgia community. Too many doctors are diagnosing fibromyalgia without fully ruling out other conditions. One research study found up to two-thirds of fibromyalgia patients were misdiagnosed. Sadly, that means millions of fibro warriors may actually have treatable medical conditions! I plan to compile a list of conditions frequently mislabeled as fibromyalgia to help determine if our doctors got it right.
  2. I’ll discuss environmental and other factors that lead to fibromyalgia symptoms and how to reduce our exposure to toxins that are likely exasperating our symptoms.
  3. I’ll share steps we can take to help our bodies heal and feel better overall. Healing involves much more than your conventional doctor’s curt advice of exercising and losing weight!
  4. And finally, I plan to feature interviews with people who have recovered from fibromyalgia or are well on the path to recovery. The purpose of this is two-fold: It reminds us that recovery is possible, and it gives us a bit of a roadmap on what has worked for others.

I believe the key to feeling better is figuring out your specific underlying cause(s), and then addressing those in a systematic manner while also supporting the body in a healing way. Lots of small steps over time can make a difference! I’ve learned that from my own healing journey.

I know some of you are already calling BS. You’re likely thinking, “Is she serious? I’ve tried everything, and nothing helps!” That’s ok. I understand the skepticism. I’m not claiming to have a cure, and I’m not making any promises.

I just know many of my fellow fibro warriors are suffering way more than they need to be. This series is my attempt to help alleviate some of that suffering. Let’s do this!

Future articles will publish here on NationalPainReport.com, or you’re always welcome to subscribe to my blog at FedUpwithFatigue.com.

Donna Gregory Burch was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2014 after several years of unexplained pain, fatigue and other symptoms. She was later diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease. Donna covers news, treatments, research and practical tips for living better with fibromyalgia and Lyme on her blog, FedUpwithFatigue.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter. Donna is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared online and in newspapers and magazines throughout Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania. She lives in Delaware with her husband and their many fur babies.

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Authored by: Donna Gregory Burch

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13 Comments on "It’s Time to Take a New Approach to Fibromyalgia!"

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Directly addressing my main point of contention with this article I’ll repeat what Terri Lewis printed: from the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision — 2018 ICD-10-CM Diagnosis Code M79.7 — ICD-10-CM Codes › M00-M99 Diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue › M70-M79 Other soft tissue disorders › M79- Other and unspecified soft tissue disorders, not elsewhere classified — 2018 ICD-10-CM Diagnosis Code M79.7 FIBROMYALGIA.

While Ms Burch may have decided that fibromyalgia is only a collection of symptoms, something which any disease, by definition, becomes when broken into it’s component effects, the medical community seems to have finally & thankfully progressed past that point.
Beyond that , I look at some of the comments and I’m torn between why don’t people just respond to the issues presented in the article itself, and there is a wide gap between staying knowledgable about our health issues and potential treatments vs having too much time on our hands.
The misnamed ‘opiod crisis’ has nothing to do with this article, and has been the subject of countless other pieces where responses would be on point. And for whatever other issues I have with the present Administration, and however much I disagree with their response to PROP/CDC/DEA/FDA BS (and I have written responses to every piece of proposed legislation or CMS rule change National Pain Report has written about), the ridiculous crackdown on legitimate pain patients’ access to narcotic medication began in the Obama years, not with Jeff Sessions.
Also, I look at the comment section and wonder what exactly, if we truly hope to find advocates in Congress or stae legislatures, would these people think and would they come to see our point of view as responsible rational chronic pain patients not looking to be sacrificed because of the drug abusers using illicit narcotics or gaming the medical system. I’m sorry, but reading that fibromyalgia must be a symptom complex with another underlying source based on ‘I lived in the country’, ‘I used to go outside’, ‘I’ve been bitten by a mosquito’ and ‘I had a pet’ to most people becomes an X-files episode where two hundred million Americans should be in a state of disease.
I’ve got 30 plus years of RSD/CRPS of all limbs, with the bonus of fibromyalgia added to the mix 8 years after the accident that brought on the peripheral nerve pain. Our pain community needs to stay focused to reach out for allies.

Hello Donna,
Thank you for all you have done and your constant support! You inspire all of us who suffer with agonizing pain and limited mobility.
I started to suffer back in 2009, and slowly got worse everyday, with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue along with my HPA axis giving out!
Dr. Jacob Tietelbaum has helped me a lot just to be able to sleep and function everyday. But I still suffer all the time.
Just wanted to let you know, my next step is to follow the diet recommended by Dr. Steven R. Gundry M. D. Very promising for us about the Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods that cause Disease and Weight Gain. It is about Lectins that once ingested , incite a kind of chemical warfare in our bodies, causing inflammatory reactions , weight gain, and serious health conditions!!!
The name of the book is The Plant Paradox!!! He has written several books I believe. Also Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution. After a distinguished surgical career , Dr, Gundry changed his focus to curing modern diseases via dietary changes.
Sincerely, Michael…………….

ICD-10-CM Codes › M00-M99 Diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue › M70-M79 Other soft tissue disorders › M79- Other and unspecified soft tissue disorders, not elsewhere classified ›
2018 ICD-10-CM Diagnosis Code M79.7
Fibromyalgia
2016 2017 2018 Billable/Specific Code
M79.7 is a billable/specific ICD-10-CM code that can be used to indicate a diagnosis for reimbursement purposes.
The 2018 edition of ICD-10-CM M79.7 became effective on October 1, 2017.
This is the American ICD-10-CM version of M79.7 – other international versions of ICD-10 M79.7 may differ.
The following code(s) above M79.7 contain annotation back-references that may be applicable to M79.7:
M00-M99 Diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue
M79 Other and unspecified soft tissue disorders, not elsewhere classified
Approximate Synonyms
Fibromyositis
Clinical Information
A chronic disorder of unknown etiology characterized by pain, stiffness, and tenderness in the muscles of neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs. Other signs and symptoms include headaches, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and painful menstruation.
A common nonarticular rheumatic condition that is characterized by muscle pain, tenderness, and stiffness.
A common nonarticular rheumatic syndrome characterized by myalgia and multiple points of focal muscle tenderness to palpation (trigger points). Muscle pain is typically aggravated by inactivity or exposure to cold. This condition is often associated with general symptoms, such as sleep disturbances, fatigue, stiffness, headaches, and occasionally depression. There is significant overlap between fibromyalgia and the chronic fatigue syndrome (fatigue syndrome, chronic). Fibromyalgia may arise as a primary or secondary disease process. It is most frequent in females aged 20 to 50 years. (from Adams et al., Principles of Neurology, 6th ed, p1494-95)
An acute, subacute, or chronic painful state of muscles, subcutaneous tissues, ligaments, tendons, or fasciae caused by a number of agents such as trauma, strain, occupation, exposure, posture, infection, or arthritis.
Fibromyalgia makes you feel tired and causes muscle pain and “tender points.” tender points are places on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms or legs that hurt when touched. People with fibromyalgia may have other symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, morning stiffness, headaches, and problems with thinking and memory, sometimes known as “fibro fog.”

David W. Cole…your right on point. Jeff Sessions and his underlings must go before this chronic pain issue is correctly presented. Go to the DOJ and OIG websites to read the atrocities being illegally put in place by SESSIONS AND OTHERS. Also the DEA. Especially the DOJ 360 initiatves.

I was diagnosed with “Spinal Arthritis” by Mendelson Kornblum 8 years ago, me needing more than 2 weeks of pain meds caused me to be sent to Pain management. And SELF diagnosis from my spiffy butterfly rash 5 years ago sent me to a Rheumatologist which confirmed I had Fibromyalgia. Heck for all I know I have both Spinal Arthritis and Fibro because my spine is doing things it should not and doesnt look very good in an xray.

I am betting many people did not get diagnosed until this butterfly rash developed on their face but I have had Fibro since at least 8 years old if not it was hereditary. I was abused when I was young and my stepmother called me a “dirty kid”. I have had a sebborheic issue with my skin just peeling off of me and I always left a ring in the tub even though I bathed everyday and yes I even used soap. You could scrub me raw and have the same thing the next day. I also suffered through High School with Fibrofog. It got worse the more I was stressed and I had to work while I was in High School as well being left in a trailer by my dad. I dont even want to discuss my issues trying to cope while being picked on by morons most my youth, asthma and allergies to boot.

Now to have a new enemy in the Government and my Insurance as well, I cant get medicated for all my pain. I can see why some people can no longer want to live. And I am coming close.

Donna, I would like to know how you are being treated for chronic Lyme disease and how you received that diagnosis. Could you do a post on those topics?

I am absolutely convinced that fibromyalgia is just a symptom of an underlying condition. There are too many seemingly unrelated issues that cluster together in a fibromyalgia diagnosis (e.g. sensitivities to so many foods, medicines, additives, chemicals, etc.; irritable bowel syndrome; frequent infections – to name a few). It is like a “whole body malfunction” in my opinion.

I was “diagnosed” with fibromyalgia in 1998 after years of numerous tests that revealed nothing abnormal to explain my symptoms. The diagnosis was by a rheumatologist who performed a pressure point test. After that I simply gave up on finding any “cure” though I sought desperately for some relief – which doctors REFUSED to provide. I only found relief when I read about tramadol in a Fibromyalgia newsletter and was given samples of it by a rheumatologist, and later prescribed it, thus getting some relief (now threatened by the opioid fiasco).

I believe fibromyalgia may be a symptom of an underlying bacterial infection similar to Lyme. Personally, my background contains a number of factors that could back this up as a cause of my issues – growing up in the country spending a lot of time outside, tick bites, mosquito bites, living with pets, and hospitalization for a serious ear infection as a child.

I have considered going to Envita Medical Center in Arizona for treatment. Does anyone have any experience with this facility?

Finally, someone writing an article looking for the cause. Unfortunately, insurance will not cover the needed tests. Every single test a fibromyalgia patient needs will be out of pocket. Ten years ago I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and was prescribed the typical medications that inevitably made my symptoms worse and/or did nothing to help. Even my ND didn’t know what to do to help me because – go figure – herbs did not work on me like they are supposed too. I finally sucked it up and went to a functional MD. I had two lyme disease tests, eight years apart, both tests came back with two positive each on different antibodies. I have four positives, but can not be diagnosed with Lyme Disease because according to the CDC you have to have three positive on one test to get that diagnosis. Ok, so, that said, I payed out of pocket for heavy metal testing – and oh man, was I filled with poisons; lead, copper, vanadium, lithium, gadolinium – from MRI contrast, strontium, thallium, manganese, and I had no detectable levels of iron. I went through three months of heavy metal detox and it brought my levels down by half. I had to do another three months, to get into the acceptable level limits. I also tested positive for mold and food allergies – who the heck is allergic to mushrooms? good grief. LOL. And I am gluten intolerant. I have yet to go completely gluten free – it is a life changer and a lot of work and with the minimal energy and brain function, I’m having a hard time adjusting. I don’t eat a lot of gluten, but from what I understand you can not even be exposed to it at all, can you believe gluten is in toothpaste? what the heck. Anyway, through all this I completed 30 sessions of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and infrared sauna. I also did several high Vitamin C treatments. I began to sleep a whole lot better while doing the hyperbaric oxygen therapy, thus I began to feel better, however this was short lived, about six months. But, I believe the oxygen therapy helped to get my body into the healing mode. I am now waiting for my parasite test to come back. Compared to ten years ago, I am functioning much better, not like I was before I got sick – I’m a long way from that, but at least I’m able to be out of bed for longer periods of time. Onward and upward as they say. Please don’t give up searching and TREATING THE CAUSE – your health and well being are worth every single penny.

My wife was diagnosed with fibromyalgea 12 years ago. I have witnessed patients that can hardly function with fibro amd I have witnessed patients that are quite active with fibromyalgea. It is my opinion and her specialists opinion that she needs medication to have “some” spice in life. Life itself can be wonderful amd it can be miserable. My wife was a body building champion. She has NEVER used distilled alcohol, ANY kind of drugs including steroids when she was competeing and as of right now, the only treatment that helps to manage continuous, incurable pain IS opioid medication. Not very much of that either but, what she has used without increase for 10 years still exceeded the CDC “policy” of a maximum amount of dosage per day. Just like pain and MANY other health conditions, especially the sensation of pain, it is subjective to the individual. Perhaps, some day fibromyalgea will be better understood but, for now to make her suffer worse is asinine. The hypocrites that make “policy” can not imagine how bad pain can affect your life. Under the influence of our leaders, our elect, and appointed “experts” such as AG Jeff Sessions, NOTHING in the way of pain management will improve. My opinion.

I believe what you’re saying here is true for just about anything, we cannot wait for doctors to fix us. I live with intractable nerve pain, neuropathy. 2 years of my life was destroyed because of cuts to my medication. Where I definitely didn’t need as much as I was getting, they definitely cut me too far back. There’s nothing I can do about that right now. So I had to figure out another way to have some kind of a life. My biggest problem was anxiety and fear of going to the doctor, it was so bad I just couldn’t stand it, thinking about suicide all the time. I can’t take anti-anxiety or or depression medication it makes me feel weird. So I started working on the anxiety, CBD oil helps, however keeping your mind occupied with something is a must, you need to get some kind of exercise if it’s just laying in your bed and doing bicycle movements with your legs with your legs, lifting small weights, just have to do something. You must get a good night sleep, I take melatonin once in awhile. I also believe keeping inflammation down for just about any kind of pain is a must, so I went on a low inflammation diet and added some supplements like tumeric, bromelain, vitamin D, a good multiple vitamin and or a good nerve support formula. It’s extremely hard but you need to stay positive think about your body all the time everything you put in it every movement you make, make it for you. I have a long way to go but my pain levels are down and I’ve actually smiled a few times. I’m even going grocery shopping today, and I already did the dishes. LOL I’ll probably pay for it but at least I did something.
Wishing all pain Warrior the best, fight hard for your right to a good life.

I’ll just add I know people are dead against considering the psychological but the new paradigm in medicine is that the Central Nervous System cannot tell the difference between mind and body, the emotional and the physical, they are one and the same. Having chronic ic lain ,shelf has proved that to me. They now know that if you,were neglected or abused (in any way, physically, emotionally, sexually) as a child you telomeres on the ends of your chromosomes will be shorter than normal for an adult and that means without question you will be more prone to illness and multiple illnesses than other people. Please take this on board. Look at your background. Were you told to keep keep things secret, not allowed to say certain things or discuss certain subjects for the sake of ‘the family reputation’? Have a think, I AM NOT saying child abuse causes fibromyalgia but I am saying it increases your chance of getting it along with other illnesses. The body-mind can overcome a lot for a while but eventually defences break down (I am qualified in psychological medicine and was myself an emotionally neglected child) and the body-mind caves in. We all know stress makes you ill,and these are huge stresses we fight to deny, for years and in some cases lifetimes. We all like to avoid pain and live in denial so I fully expect, moderators, I will be attacked for saying this. Nonetheless people deserve the truth. If you suspect you have suffered any kind of abuse at any time, do get professional help, there a number of non profits and charities that provide support. One of the problems with child abuse is that the child believes its own world is normal, and its abusers try to enforce that too.

Donna, an excellent article, well done. You are so right. I don’t have fibro but I did have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME ie, Fibromyalgia without the pain. I cured myself over 8 years after six years of terrible suffering by pacing, and treating food allergies relentlessly, and osteopathy as former whiplashes were maintaining my brain fog and lack of energy. I do think these conditions are syndromes, everyone is different although the symptoms are overall in common. I do think musculoskeletal skeletal injuries which seems insignificant at the time do a lot of damage for the future too amd can cause or contribute to Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia. As does poor posture, sort out your posture, everyone or,you,are going to be in more pain! Now following further whiplash I have chronic pain ie fibro without the fatigue and brain fog. Even though pain dominates my life, trashes my sleep, has lost me most of the things I enjoyed, I am so grateful not to have the brain fog and fatigue I know how life and soul destroying they are. I suggest as everyone with Fibro has trigger points in their muscles, it is a diagnostic characteristic, that they buy if they can afford it The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook by Clair Davies NCTMB. New Harbinger Publications Inc, it cost me $23 years ago. It is a DIY proven method to overcome muscle and soft tissue pain and is medically proven too. If you can remove your trigger points which are the largest known cause of all soft tissue including back pain, you can then exercise gradually. Many people have surgery which gives them chronic pain for life when their pain is caused by trigger points. Most doctors do not understand these, only Physio’s and some massage therapists. Don’t let a massage therapist or Physio,work to,deep, they can make you,worse. Be slow and gradual aim to release a trigger point over several days, not all at once. The author of this book cured her own daughter of fibro using these techniques. I can tell you from personal experience that becoming deconditioned through years of illness stores up impossible and painful permanent problems for your future. The body is made to be used. Yes, I I understand about not doing so much your fatigue gets worse but light Raja Yoga, Pilates, stretching or walking a few steps all helps. Even if you can only sit in a chair for a few minutes, do it! And pace your activity, get out of the book and bust cycle. That did more for me than anything.

Thank you Donna for your letter. I am skepticle but I have hope after reading your letter. I’m at my final rope just hanging on. I suffer everyday and cry everyday nd I’m tired, I’m tired of the pain and all the symptoms I have to go thru day in and day out. It’s draining me. Everyday I try to think what went wrong. I use to be a healthy lady running a business and helping anyone who passed my way. Now I lay in bed everyday and go to a doctor visits every week. I’m exhausted. I do feel like there has to be something wrong. With all the tests I’ve been thru I also found I don’t have a pituitary gland. I also have empty sella syndrome.
I admire you Donna for stepping up and trying to help us all with fibromyalgia. I will do what ever it takes to follow a new regimen to get better if you find a cure or treatment. I’m holding on to my last hope. God bless you, your not alone.