In general, if you hurt all over and feel chronically and inappropriately tired, you may very well have fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Both are serious chronic illnesses that have specific criteria for diagnosis, but may be overlooked because blood tests are typically normal. Also, there is significant overlap between fibromyalgia and CFS with up to 70% of patients meeting the diagnosis for both. As many as six million Americans suffer from these conditions, so the socioeconomic toll is enormous.
The first step in making a diagnosis is to rule out other causes of chronic pain and fatigue including rheumatoid arthritis, lyme disease and others. As well, certain medications like cholesterol lowering statin drugs can cause pain and fatigue and are probably overused.
Once there is no other obvious cause, we can establish a diagnosis of fibromyalgia and CFS and work on getting well. Contrary to common beliefs much can be done for both of these conditions.
Restoring healthy sleep patterns is critical. Upon close questioning almost all people with fibromyalgia and CFS have chronically disrupted sleep and simply will not get well without effective treatment.
As well, it is very common for these patients to have, gastrointestinal problems such as chronic bloating, diarrhea and constipation, nutritional deficiencies, and hormonal problems.
Treating bacterial and yeast overgrowth, as well as parasites, can often restore bowel function to normal so the person is both comfortable and able to properly absorb nutrients.
Deficiencies of nutrients such as Vitamins B12 and D, and magnesium are surprisingly common and aggressively replenishing them can make people feel much better. This sometimes requires intravenous therapy at first to get the person “over the hump.”
Treating thyroid and adrenal gland dysfunction is critical as is restoring testosterone and other hormone levels in both men and women. It is not uncommon for women to begin to experience debilitating pain and fatigue when menopause begins. Recognizing this can begin the path to wellness. Bioidentical hormone replacement in low safe doses can produce remarkable results in both men and women.
Finally it can be useful to use prescription medications to help people get well. Medications that reduce pain sensation and transmission can help. One must be careful to use the lowest effective dose and watch out for debilitating side effects in using them.
What is important to realize is that for people with fibromyalgia and CFS can get better with correct diagnosis, attention, and treatment.