What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by chronic, widespread pain that has no obvious physical cause. It is often accompanied by chronic fatigue, sleep problems and emotional distress. Research on fibromyalgia is still fairly new, and very little is known about what causes the condition. It is thought that people with fibromyalgia may have more sensitive pain receptors than people without fibromyalgia, which could lead to an increased perception of pain. Despite little being known about the cause, it can often be effectively treated and managed.
What are the signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia?
- Pain all over the body
- Sleep problems
- Brain fog - problems with thinking, memory and concentration
The naturopathic approach to treating fibromyalgia
Chronic pain and fatigue are two of the most common complaints that healthcare practitioners see, so the first step is to determine if these symptoms are fibromyalgia, or if they are caused by something else. Lab work and physical exams may be done to rule out other common conditions that cause widespread pain and fatigue. You may also want to see your family doctor for imaging, such as x-rays.
Naturopathic doctors take a holistic and comprehensive approach to diagnosis, looking further into lifestyle factors and mental/emotional stressors that can contribute to your condition. Once a diagnosis is reached, your naturopathic doctor can work with you to develop a complete treatment strategy.
Components of a naturopathic fibromyalgia treatment plan
- Education: about the condition, and support systems available to you
- Personalized stress management plan: including a personalized combination of meditation, yoga, tai chi, supplements, relaxation exercises, visualization, journaling, etc
- Gentle exercise and muscle strengthening
- Sleep strategy: including sleep habits and supplements if needed
- Optimized nutrition: including a manageable meal plan and supplements if needed
- Acupuncture: studies have shown that acupuncture can lower levels of substance P in your body (the molecule released in response to pain)
- Referrals: naturopaths aren’t experts in everything, and we may refer you to work with a family doctor, psychotherapist, RMT, or physiotherapist if appropriate