Melissa Wiliams, Freelance Writer | Co-Owner, Yoga Junction
Some reports estimate that up to 10 million Americans are affected by fibromyalgia. Fibro is a disorder marked by musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. And while pain medicine is one way to manage these symptoms, holistic doctors are examining a few other options:
1. Gluten intolerance- Gluten intolerance can appear with similar symptoms as fibromyalgia including behavior issues, depression, fatigue, and pain. Trying gluten-free for 90 days may help show if you have a gluten issue.
2. Candida overgrowth- When we have too much candida in our systems it can present as fatigue, digestive issues and pain. Integrative doctors often find an association between candida overgrowth and fibromyalgia.
3. Thyroid issues- When your thyroid isn’t functioning properly it can register as exhaustion, depression and overall malaise. Be sure to get your thyroid checked.
4. Leaky gut- Starting with your gut is one of the first steps in alleviating symptoms of fibromyalgia. When your body isn’t digesting nutrients properly, it can lead to other food intolerances.
5. MTHFR mutations- A genetic test can help determine if you have a mutation of the MTHFR gene. If you have mutations, you’re less able to detoxify toxins and begin displaying Fibromyalgia symptoms.
One thing we do know is that self-care & lifestyle are critical in the management of fibromyalgia. The Mayo Clinic recommends Fibromyalgia sufferers lead a proactive attack against their maladies by engaging in the following:
Reduce stress. Develop a plan to avoid or limit overexertion and emotional stress. Allow yourself time each day to relax. That may mean learning how to say no without guilt. But try not to change your routine completely. People who quit work or drop all activity tend to do worse than those who remain active. Try stress management techniques, such as deep-breathing exercises or meditation.
Get enough sleep. Because fatigue is one of the main characteristics of fibromyalgia, getting sufficient sleep is essential. In addition to allotting enough time for sleep, practice good sleep habits, such as going to bed and getting up at the same time each day and limiting daytime napping.
Exercise regularly. At first, exercise may increase your pain. But doing it gradually and regularly often decreases symptoms. Appropriate exercises may include walking, swimming, biking and water aerobics. A physical therapist can help you develop a home exercise program. Stretching, good posture and relaxation exercises also are helpful.
Pace yourself. Keep your activity on an even level. If you do too much on your good days, you may have more bad days. Moderation means not “overdoing it” on your good days, but likewise it means not self-limiting or doing “too little” on the days when symptoms flare. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy foods. Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake. Do something that you find enjoyable and fulfilling every day.