Have you heard the news? Researchers have found the main source of pain in Fibromyalgia patients. The tv commercial for the drug Lyrica would have you believe that the pain of fibromyalgia is caused by overactive nerves, but it’s not. The mystery of Fibromyalgia has left millions of sufferers searching for hope in pain medications and up until the last 15 years, many physicians thought that the disease was “imaginary” or psychological because test after test points to know one cause. Recently scientists have discovered that the main source of pain stems from a most unlikely place- excess blood vessels.
“To solve the Fibromyalgia mystery, researchers zeroed in on the skin from the hand of one patient who had a lack of the sensory nerve fibers, causing a reduced reaction to pain. They then took skin samples from the hands of Fibromyalgia patients and were surprised to find an extremely excessive amount of a particular type of nerve fiber called arteriole-venule (AV) shunts.
Up until this point scientists had thought that these fibers were only responsible for regulating blood flow, and did not play any role in pain sensation, but now they’ve discovered that there is a direct link between these nerves and the widespread body pain that Fibromyalgia sufferers feel.”
As I read through the article, all I could think was finally! Finally, someone is going to put it together and realize that inflammation is the cause of these people’s pain.
The role of inflammation in fibromyalgia has been the topic of debate for decades. In fact, the condition used to be called “fibrositis,” which means “fibrous-tissue inflammation.” Due to an apparent lack of inflammation, the name was replaced with fibromyalgia (fibrous tissue and muscle pain) because it was believed to be more accurate. But now many researchers are finding connections with chronic inflammation that may contribute to the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is frequently referred to as an arthritis-related condition. However, it does not cause joint damage or swelling, as arthritis does. Nor does fibromyalgia cause damage to muscle and other tissues. Because of this, it was believed that fibromyalgia was not an inflammatory condition.
But, research has also shown us that every pain syndrome has an inflammatory profile consisting of the inflammatory mediators that are present in the pain syndrome. The inflammatory profile may have variations from one person to another and may have variations in the same person at different times.
In recent years, multiple studies have revealed several markers of inflammation in people with fibromyalgia, including high levels of C-reactive protein and pro-inflammatory cytokines.
So what’s the link between having more blood vessels and chronic inflammation?
Well, chronic inflammation can CAUSE angiogenesis, i.e. formation of new blood vessels!
There are a number of pathological conditions which are known to be associated with aberrant angiogenesis. These conditions include cancer, diabetic retinopathy, ischemic cardiovascular diseases (e.g., stroke), and chronic inflammatory diseases, like Inflammatory bowel disease (e.g., IBD, colitis and the like). Although the link between angiogenesis and inflammation has received much attention in recent years, there has long been evidence suggesting that these are two closely related processes.
Research also shows there is growing evidence that the angiogenesis that accompanies chronic inflammation tends to prolong and intensify the inflammatory response. This contention is supported by reports describing a worsening of disease activity, tissue injury, and colonic inflammation.
So, let me connect the dots for you: (A) Chronic inflammation (caused by poor diet, poor lifestyle choices, food allergies…which can cause digestive issues and leaky gut, and chronic degenerative diseases) can cause (B) angiogenesis (production of arterioles). These arterioles have pain sensitive nerve fibers and can detect chemical markers for inflammation in the circulation and tissues and (C) relay pain signals to the brain.
But, chronic inflammation does more than just increase pain, it changes hormone patterns, digestive patterns, sleep patterns, and even mood. It is the culprit in every autoimmune disorder and also in just about every chronic degenerative disease, including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and stroke.
Inflammation is a not so silent killer and the first thing you need to learn about it, is how to stop making more of it:
Lick the Sugar Habit: eliminate sources of sugar including sugar and complex carbohydrates and packaged foods like pasta, bread, chips, crackers, cookies and snack foods. Not only do they create inflammation, but they increase blood sugar and can lead to diabetes as well.
Clean up your diet: Eat 5-9 servings of vegetables and fruits every day. Choose fresh organic foods whenever possible. Meats are great, but limit protein intake to no more than 4-6oz per serving.
Add the fats back: Avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil, butter, fish oil and even animal fats are actually good for you and anti-inflammatory in nature. I also recommend supplementing with, omega fatty acids, MCT oil and exogenous ketones.
Get enough exercise: This will improve your circulation and help your circulatory system flush toxins and metabolites from your muscles and tissues.
Drink Pure water: Give your kidneys and liver a little bit of help by getting adequate pure clean water everyday…1/2 your body weight is how many ounce you should drink each day.
Reduce your toxic load: Use chemical free soaps, cleaners and lotions so you are not adding to the problem.
Decreasing emotional stress: Stress raises cortisol levels, which increases blood sugar levels (and cravings for sugar) and disrupts normal hormone production and function which can lead to insulin resistance and a whole host of symptoms like fatigue, sleep disorders, weight gain and muscle pain.
Supplement your diet: Never underestimate the anti-inflammatory properties of Vitamin C. This is a baseline recommendation for anyone with autoimmune and inflammation problems. I typically recommend 2000-4000 mg per day. I have found a powdered vit C that is 4000 mg per tsp. – just call and ask for ProC. Also, so many people just don’t take a multivitamin and they should. If you aren’t eating 5-9 servings of vegetables and fruits – you likely aren’t getting enough nutrients to help your body detox, repair and regenerate. I recommend supplements to my patients to help them overcome illness and hormone imbalance, but I also recommend them to maintain a healthy body and immune system. Today’s soil is just not what it used to be, and as a society, we do not eat enough whole, fresh foods.
Get your spine adjusted: Lifestyle will take you a long way, but the secret to my success is Chiropractic. You must have a proper nerve system communication! All functions of the body – even at the cellular level – are dependent on the commands received from the brain and nervous system. If the brain can’t communicate with the rest of the body because of spinal subluxations, well, that’s like having no one at the controls. Also, think about this: When the spinal bones are not allowed to move freely, they become inflamed and arthritic…ughhh more inflammation!
These are the steps I ask not only my fibromyalgia patients to take, but all my patients. Those who do find themselves recovering, healing and enjoying LIFE faster than those who do not.