Re-energizing After a Lay-Off

energyEveryone is familiar with energy drain. Researchers are studying the links between what we eat, how we work and live and how we feel.  There are different kinds of fatigue and different ways to improve your energy level.  How do you know if your low energy is caused by underlying disease or is the result of lifestyle factors, stress, poor diet, lack of sleep, or normal aging? Continue reading “Re-energizing After a Lay-Off”

Starting Over: Working Through Pain and Developing Inner Strength

start-overEven when the mere idea of walking around the block makes you want to  crawl back under the covers and never surface again, exercise is essential for people with arthritis and fibromyalgia. Working through stiffness and pain requires accepting responsibility to become your own healer and summoning the courage required to stay the course. When you have had an exercise program and  abandoned it, starting over again is a shame-filled, fear-filled and painful challenge to overcome.  Continue reading “Starting Over: Working Through Pain and Developing Inner Strength”

7 Energizing Snack Foods for Optimum Health

good foodToday’s nutrition message is ‘dump the junk; eat real food’.  I heard the call to eat healthy and enjoy life and acted on it.  Have you?

Obesity, heart disease and strokes are prevalent. It’s clear that many people aren’t either wise or moderate when it comes to the variety of foods and quantities they consume.  So it’s no surprise the nutrition pendulum has swung back toward eating unaltered food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it. Continue reading “7 Energizing Snack Foods for Optimum Health”

8 Fibromylagia Therapies

People with fibromyalgia experience a range of symptoms of varying intensities that wax and wane. Those symptoms are usually invisible to others  and many people with fibromyalgia push themselves too far until they trigger collapse.  What’s  key to well-being for people with fibromylagia is  taking charge of their own health,  employing  effective therapies,  learning how to cope,  and maintaining a positive attitude. Continue reading “8 Fibromylagia Therapies”


Forbidden Foods for Fibromyalgia

fruit salad February was a tumultuous month. March wasn’t much better as end of the year accounting, contract deadlines and tax calculations were on the menu.  I became stressed out, failed to get enough sleep, and didn’t monitor my diet as well as I should have. The result was a fibromyalgia flare-up from which I am now recovering. Continue reading “Forbidden Foods for Fibromyalgia”

Coping with Arthritis

arthritis hands pain imageArthritis affects 46 million people in the U.S. That’s nearly one in five people. There are more than 100 types of arthritis, but the most common is osteoarthritis. It affects men and women in equal numbers.  Arthritis is not an inevitable part of aging, most people develop osteoarthritis after 45, but it can occur at any age. And the good news is that there  are now better treatments to relieve pain, stiffness, and discomfort. Continue reading “Coping with Arthritis”

Aromatherapy is alternative medicine

Massage in Frankfurt, Germany
Image via Wikipedia

I’m an aging woman coping with disabilities including fibromyalgia and focused on improving my life. I use many alternative medicine methods to reduce stress and to control pain and I share them with my readers in this personal development, self improvement and conscious living blog.  Three of my mainstays are aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies and massage. Continue reading “Aromatherapy is alternative medicine”

Fibromyalgia research links 2010

fibro1I am a fibromyalgia sufferer who relies on alternative and complementary medicine, rather than pharmaceuticals.  This is because I have multiple food, chemical and drug allergies and decided years ago that suffering through side effects was not for me. I keep watch on all the research that’s done every year and when treatment options don’t include pharmaceuticals I try them to see if they will provide relief from the inflammation and pain.  I also keep watch for alternative and complementary medicine research pertaining to the many associated conditions.

Causes of fibromyalgia are not known

The condition produces vague symptoms that may be associated with diminished blood flow to certain parts of the brain and increased amounts of substance P, which is thought to be a sensory neurotransmitter involved in the communication of pain, touch, and temperature from the body to the brain. Researchers have identified several other possible fibromyalgia causes, including the following:

  • Autonomic nervous system dysfunction
  • Chronic sleep disorders
  • Emotional stress or trauma
  • Immune or endocrine system dysfunction
  • Upper spinal cord injury
  • Viral or bacterial infection

Alternative therapies and treatments work to heal your total being, which is why some fibromyalgia patients opt for them in treating their widespread symptoms. A variety of alternative options may ease your fibromyalgia pain—from acupuncture and biofeedback to herbal supplements and massage to yoga and meditation.

If you’re one of the millions of people who suffer from fibromyalgia, you should be aware of the new research developments involving your disorder. The more you know about fibromyalgia, the better equipped you’ll be to discuss treatment options with your doctor.

Fibromyalgia research links 2010

High Rate of Restless Legs Syndrome Found in Adults With Fibromyalgia
October 15, 2010:  A new study finds that adults with fibromyalgia had a much higher prevalence and risk of restless legs syndrome than healthy controls. The study suggests that treating RLS may improve sleep and may improve sleep and quality of life in people with fibromyalgia.

Yoga Can Counteract Fibromyalgia, Study Suggests
October 14, 2010 — Yoga exercises may have the power to combat the chronic pain caused by fibromyalgia — a medical disorder characterized by chronic widespread pain. The research is being published in the November 10 online edition of the journal Pain and will appear online on Oct. 14.

Adolescents With Fibromyalgia Who Are Physically Active Report Lower Levels of Pain and Disability
September 19, 2010: Adolescents with fibromyalgia who are physically active report lower levels of pain and disability,

How Badly Does It Hurt? Research Examines the Biomedical Diagnosis of Pain
August 28, 2010:  Sociology research investigates the challenges of patients experiencing pain symptoms that don’t visibly turn up on any tests. Research out of the University of Cincinnati is examining the diagnosis of pain that evades scientific testing, and the additional emotional suffering that can result for the patient.

New Principle Discovered for How Muscle Pain Is Signaled
July 19, 2010:  Chronic muscular pain may be linked to a previously unknown principle for how pain signals are transmitted in the human body.

Obesity Associated With Increased Risk of Fibromyalgia
May 4, 2010:  Researchers in Norway have found an association between the level of leisure time physical exercise and a future risk of developing fibromyalgia. The research team also identified BMI as an independent risk factor for fibromyalgia.

New Reliable Method Based on Patients’ Gait Helps to Diagnose Fibromyalgia
April 30, 2010:  A researcher from Spain has designed a reliable method that — combined with the diagnostic criteria of the American College of Reumathology — helps to diagnose fibromyalgia on the basis of of patients’ walk parameters, i.e. their gait.

Study Highlights New Way to Diagnose Fibromyalgia
May 27, 2010: To test the new criteria, the researchers conducted a multi-center study of 829 people who had fibromyalgia and a control group of people who had other pain disorders. The researchers found that the combination of the pain index, number of symptoms, and severity of symptoms provided the most accurate fibromyalgia diagnosis. The researchers reported that the new criteria will correctly diagnose more than 88% of people with fibromyalgia—and that’s without a tender point examination. — The American College of Rheumatology Preliminary Diagnostic Criteria for Fibromyalgia and Measurement of Symptom Severity

Fibromyalgia Affects Mental Health of Those Diagnosed and Their Spouses, Study Finds
April 30, 2010 — Researchers are examining how the diagnosis of fibromyalgia can affect marriages. Initial findings reveal that diagnosed spouses have considerably higher levels of depressive symptoms and pain and report more marital instability and anger than their spouses. For both spouses, the symptoms can trigger increased emotional withdrawal and mental strain.

Exercise Reduces Pain Perceptions in Fibromyalgia Patients
April 1, 2010:  People with fibromyalgia can experience debilitating pain—and that can erase any motivation to exercise. But what this study shows is that 30 minutes a day of moderate activity can make a difference in how you perceive pain. —  Effects of lifestyle physical activity on perceived symptoms and physical function in adults with fibromyalgia: results of a randomized trial

Cannabis-based Drug Improves Sleep in Fibromyalgia Patients
February 24, 2010: Sleep problems are common in people with chronic pain disorders—and fibromyalgia is no exception. There are a number of medications that may treat sleep problems associated with fibromyalgia, and anti-depressants are among the most common. But new study findings may change that—a synthetic cannabinoid called nabilone (marketed as Cesamet) relieved sleep disturbances better than the anti-depressant amitriptyline (Elavil).  – The Effects of Nabilone on Sleep in Fibromyalgia: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial

Savella Gets Good Marks for Treating Fibromyalgia
February 22, 2010: In both studies, 52% of patients taking 100 mg of Savella and 56% of those taking 200 mg of Savella reported a reduction in pain. This is compared with 40% to 42% of the participants taking a placebo. Overall, the patients in the Savella group experienced better pain control, compared to the placebo group.–  AAPM: Drug for Fibromyalgia Boosts Multiple Outcomes

Fibromyalgia Pain Relief: Is It All in Your Lungs?
February 1, 2010: This is important because it highlights the link between emotional pain and physical pain. Many people with fibromyalgia suffer from depression and anxiety, which only exacerbates their physical pain. On the other hand, this study also shows that a positive mental state helps stave off physical pain. — The effects of slow breathing on affective responses to pain stimuli: An experimental study

Yoga, Aging, Intimacy & Sexuality

thekissTouching is a vital human need and an essential ingredient for healthy relationships. Studies have shown that without touching, many animals – including humans – will die in childhood. Being caressed also lowers blood pressure and releases natural opiates in the brain, as well as the chemical oxytocin, which is essential for human pair-bonding. Continue reading “Yoga, Aging, Intimacy & Sexuality”

Love is a Rose

woodviolets It was an overcast, cool and breezy morning when Mr T took me out walking today. I have been trying to further the time and distance I established in my spring conditioning program but I’m not making much progress.  I haven’t been sleeping well.  I’m experiencing severe joint pain, and spasms in my legs that ZING! me wide awake every couple of hours. Walking seems to help a little but not as much as I had hoped for, and I found myself sitting in the ditch and resting while the spasms passed. Continue reading “Love is a Rose”

Diagnosing Fibromyalgia

thumb_fibromyalgiaFibromyalgia is a syndrome involving debilitating pain, sleep disturbance, jaw pain, irritable bowel, headaches, and difficulty with concentration, anxiety and/or depression, and fatigue. In the United States, this condition affects nearly 4 million people, or 2% of the population; twice the number as those with rheumatoid arthritis. The primary symptom, pain, which often migrates through the entire body, usually occurs between the shoulder blades, on the forearms and outer thighs, and throughout the neck and back.

Fibromyalgia should be suspected in any patient with muscle and joint pain when no identifiable cause has been found. The 18 fibromyalgia tender points are located throughout the body. At this point in time according to the American College of Rheumatology, a diagnosis of fibromyalgia requires widespread body pain pluslocalized pain in 11 of these 18 specific points.

Read more here > Fibromyalgia Diagnosis

Fibromyalgia syndrome is common, affecting 0.5% to 5% of the general population, and is either the second or third most common diagnosis in a rheumatology practice. Importantly for internists, a diagnosis of fibromyalgia syndrome should be made in 10% to 15% of primary care patients. The high prevalence alone demands diagnostic recognition.

Read more here > New developments in the diagnosis of fibromyalgia syndrome: Say goodbye to tender points?

ScienceDaily (June 6, 2010) — The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) is proposing a new set of diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia that includes common symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, and cognitive problems, as well as pain. The new criteria are published in the May issue of the ACR journal Arthritis Care & Research.

To develop and test the new criteria, researchers performed a multicenter study of 829 previously diagnosed fibromyalgia patients and a control group of rheumatic patients with non-inflammatory disorders using physician physical and interview examinations. The data were processed by the National Data Bank for Rheumatic Diseases.

The tender point test is being replaced with a widespread pain index and a symptom severity scale. The widespread pain index score is determined by counting the number of areas on the body where the patient has felt pain in the last week. The checklist includes 19 specified areas.

Read more here > New Criteria Proposed for Diagnosing Fibromyalgia

FMS, CMS Spring Conditioning Update

This winter I became sedentary as the pain of the fibromyalgia FMS flare-ups and the chronic fatigue CFS symptoms I experienced were severe, and I became severely depressed. Insomnia became a factor along with exhaustion. I lost muscle tone and weight and descended from being fit to becoming becoming unfit very rapidly. Continue reading “FMS, CMS Spring Conditioning Update”

Fibromyalgia: Acknowledge Pain, Plan and Manage Life Well

This woman tells it like it is.

Rebecca, 52, has been living with fibromyalgia for more than 30 years. After struggling without proper treatment for years, she took control of her disease and utilized alternative therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic manipulation.

Continue reading “Fibromyalgia: Acknowledge Pain, Plan and Manage Life Well”

Tips for Coping with Fibromyalgia at Home

In this video there are some practical tips for around the house that will make living with fibromyalgia a lot easier.

A lot of these tips deal with easing the pain on your hands because it is one of the most common areas people suffering from fibromyalgia experience pain.

Visit the site for resource/product recommendations and reviews, news stories, videos discussions, articles, Q&As and more discussing fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia: Spring Conditioning

frosty leavesThis winter has been a dark time for me.  We have two seasons; dry and sunny and  rainy and wet. Most of the annual rain falls from November to February.  December, the wettest month (109 mm) has  nearly eight times as high precipitation as in July, the driest month (14 mm). During the winter, the average daily high and low temperatures are 8°C and 3°C, respectively. The summer months are equally mild, with an average high temperature of 19 °C and low of 11°C. Continue reading “Fibromyalgia: Spring Conditioning”

Yogic breathing exercises reduce pain and depression

image of meditatorToday I was reading ScienceDaily and noticed a new entry that will be of interest to those who do suffer from chronic pain and depression. I found this report to be very interesting because I have been using Yogic breathing and Buddhist breathing and mindfulness exercises for over 20 years now to control my own pain and to cope with the depression that chronic pain leads to. In fact I have been sharing my practices in this blog. Continue reading “Yogic breathing exercises reduce pain and depression”

Fibromyalgia research links 2009 What Are Researchers Learning About Fibromyalgia? – Research improves understanding of fibromyalgia. Research of fibromyalgia covers a broad spectrum. Because fibromyalgia appears to run in families, researchers are working to identify whether a gene or genes predispose people to the condition.

CFIDS & Fibromyalgia Self-Help – Offering groups and resources for improving your quality of life as a person with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or fibromyalgia.

EurekAlert – EurekAlert! is an online, global news service operated by AAAS, the science society. EurekAlert! provides a central place through which universities, medical centers, journals, government agencies, corporations and other organizations engaged in research can bring their news to the media. EurekAlert! also offers its news and resources to the public. EurekAlert! features news and resources focused on all areas of science, medicine and technology. Complete Support for Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain; All Related Illnesses such as MS, IBS, Lupus, etc.With the love and caring of our Members, Fibrohugs has become the largest interactive Fibromyalgia site that is truly designed for the entire Family. We accredit our constant growth to the Monitored Chats & Forums, Member Submissions, Research Results, Tons of Information, and the sincere unconditional love and support we offer each person that visits this site. We are run by people suffering with Fibromyalgia so we know exactly what you need, you need Fibro”Hugs”.

Fibromyalgia and Exercise – The Science of Fibromyalgia and Exercise – Fibromyalgia Research Citations.

The Fibromyalgia Research Blog – This site never allows advertisers to have any influence on the content of our posts. In order to maintain our ethical stance, we do not publish “pay to post” articles under any circumstance.

Fibromyalgia – Mayo Clinic

Fibromyalgia Network – Most of the research findings in fibromyalgia point to a malfunctioning of the central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain and spinal cord. Yet, there appear to be a variety of abnormalities occurring in the peripheral soft tissues (muscles and connective tissue) and the peripheral nervous system that communicates with the CNS. This dysfunctional interplay between the CNS and peripheral systems is believed by most investigators to be the source of the many body-wide symptoms. In a way, fibromyalgia could be considered a disease of the CNS.

Fibromyalgia Medical Journals Google Scholar

Fibromyalgia Scientific Journals

FMS Global News – FMS News 2009 – FMS Global News is committed to uniting the “global fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome community”, and providing the most comprehensive source of news available.

Health Matters – Cinda Crawford Discusses Healing on the Health Matters Show. The objective of the Health Matters Show is to provide great information about Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, the symptoms, treatments, and remedies, plus offer you hope of  getting well.

JAMA: Fibromyalgia Medical Journals – JAMA is a highly cited weekly medical journal that publishes peer-reviewed original medical research findings and editorial opinion.

ME/CFS Australia (SA) Inc. Fibromyalgia news – To improve the quality of life and health management of people with ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, whilst supporting community education and research initiatives, which will lead to recognition by government health providers of the need for better outcomes in service provision.

National Fibromyalgia Association Research

Pro Health – Whether you’ve recently been diagnosed or have been living with fibro for years, this is the place you want to be. It’s a ‘patient-powered’ site, which means folks just like you keep it going, with information, conversations and support. And of course ProHealth keeps you up-to-date with current news on research and treatment, and input from the world’s leading Fibromyalgia experts.

PubMed: Fibromyalgia Articles

Science Daily

Use Of Antidepressants Associated With Improvement In Symptoms Of Fibromyalgia - January 14, 2009 — The use of antidepressant medications by patients with fibromyalgia syndrome is associated with a reduction in pain, sleep disturbances and depressed mood and improvement of health-related quality of … > full story

Fibromyalgia Pain Linked To Central Nervous System Dysfunction - February 18, 2009 — Widespread body pain in fibromyalgia patients is associated with specific brain metabolite abnormalities, according to new … > full story

Inadequate Vitamin D Levels Linked To High Use Of Narcotic Medication By Patients In Chronic Pain - March 27, 2009 — New research shows a correlation between inadequate vitamin D levels and the amount of narcotic medication taken by patients who have chronic … > full story

Inexpensive Drug Appears To Relieve Fibromyalgia Pain - April 21, 2009 — A small pilot study was conducted over a 14-week period to test the new use of a low dose of a drug called naltrexone for the treatment of chronic pain. The drug, which has been used clinically for … > full story

‘The Fibromyalgia Controversy’
The Fibromyalgia Controversy’ “The Fibromyalgia Controversy ” is published by Prometheus disabling medical condition known as fibromyalgia. In the medical community, sides 15.2KB – Public Press Releases

Fibromyalgia Patients Show Decreases In Gray Matter Intensity - June 18, 2009 — Previous studies have shown that fibromyalgia is associated with reductions in gray matter in parts of the brain, but the exact cause is not known. Using sophisticated brain imaging techniques, … > full story

Chinese Acupuncture Affects Brain’s Ability To Regulate Pain, UM Study Shows - August 11, 2009 — Acupuncture has been used for over two millennia in East-Asian medicine to treat pain. Using brain imaging, researchers have provided novel evidence that traditional Chinese acupuncture affects the … > full story

Early Treatment Of Fibromyalgia More Effective, Research Suggests - October 29, 2009 — People suffering from fibromyalgia have reduced activity in the parts of the brain that inhibit the experience of pain. Drugs that affect the CNS can be effective against the disease, and are thought … > full story

Hidden Sensory System Discovered in the Skin - December 14, 2009 — Researchers report that the human body has an entirely unique and separate sensory system aside from the nerves that give most of us the ability to touch and feel. Surprisingly, this sensory network … > full story


Take Good Care During the Holidays

ornaments.jpg The 2009 holiday season is officially here and while most of us look forward to the excitement of the season, some may be overwhelmed by the stress of shopping, winter travel conditions, office parties,  and family gatherings. Although we all hope that peace will prevail when friends and relatives get together in the season of good cheer, the stress  can trigger difficult behavior  in some people.

Continue reading “Take Good Care During the Holidays”

Chronic fatigue syndrome may be caused by a virus

Depression1Chronic fatigue syndrome is a disabling condition of prolonged and severe tiredness or weariness (fatigue) that is not relieved by rest and is not directly caused by other conditions, including fibromyalgia and depression. To be diagnosed with this condition, your tiredness must be severe enough to decrease your ability to participate in ordinary activities by 50%. Continue reading “Chronic fatigue syndrome may be caused by a virus”

Fibromyalgia: Cranberry for Cystitis

cranberry juice

Research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association reveals  the beneficial effect that cranberry juice may have on preventing cystitis and urinary infections.  The good news is that cranberry juice helps prevent urinary tract infections, and where unavailable, cranberry concentrate capsules (1,000 mg) can be substituted.

People with any autoimmune disease are more susceptible to interstitial cystitis.  Interstitial cystitis (IC) is an inflammation of the bladder which can occur by itself or in conjunction with other autoimmune diseases, such as fibromyalgia, scleroderma, lupus, or Sjögren’s Syndrome.

Fibromyalgia (formerly known as fibrositis) is a chronic condition causing pain, stiffness, and tenderness of the muscles, tendons, and joints. Fibromyalgia is also characterized by restless sleep, awakening feeling tired, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and disturbances in bowel function, and interstitial cystitis.

Many internists, rheumatologists, and even many urologists, are unaware of or do not “believe” in interstitial cystitis. Unfortunately, this is a disease where the patient must often take the initiative to research and document their symptoms, request referrals to a specialist in interstitial cystitis, and often ask for specific procedures to be done to garner the proper diagnosis and treatment.

Cranberry fights infection

Cranberry is a powerful infection fighter,  helping the body attack bacteria and viruses.   Cranberry  contains amounts of a compound called “hippuric acid”,  which has some natural antibiotic activity. The natural agents in cranberry include an anti-adherence activity that keeps the bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall. This keeps the bacteria suspended allowing them to be flushed out harmlessly in the urine. Unlike antibiotics, cranberry juice does not kill of the body’s natural lactic bacteria that are viral to health.

Cranberry and cystitis research

Women get more urinary infections because the length of their urethra is shorter than men’s therefore more accessible to bacteria.  In a recent study,  153 elderly women drank 300 ml of cranberry juice per day to see the effect that cranberry juice had on the urinary tract.  Some of the women were given 100% real cranberry juice, while the others were given a placebo drink, which only looked and tasted the same as real cranberry juice. At the conclusion of  six months, women drinking the real cranberry juice had 58% less urinary infections, than the women drinking the placebo drink.

Researchers have also had positive results when treating patients by using cranberry concentrate capsules (1,000 mg), to  prevent re-occurring urinary tract infections and cystitis problems. The concentrate form is easier to manage, and it contains no sweeteners or added sugars.

Cranberries are very high in vitamin C and fiber. Commercial cranberry drinks usually contain a lot of sugar, so look for pure cranberry juice. How much do you take?  Recent information says that 400-700ml (about 2-3 cups) daily seems to be the “dose”.

Urinary Tract Infection

How Cranberry Juice Prevents Urinary Tract Infections

Fibromyalgia (FMS) – SCLERO.ORG – International Scleroderma Network
Cranberry juice research
Regular Consumption of Cranberry Juice May Suppress H. pylori Infection
Cranberry recipes

Fibromyalgia: What it is and what it isn’t

Neck Pain

I don’t have fibromyalgia it has me. There is no cure. I’m violently allergic to the medications used for it, and I will carry this unwelcome body invader that attacked me 20 years ago and remained in residence, to the grave with me. I choose to rely on alternative medicine and complementary medicine approaches and have had some success with them when it comes to managing and coping with pain. Continue reading “Fibromyalgia: What it is and what it isn’t”

Fibromyalgia Updates 2009

ScienceDaily (June 18, 2009) — Previous studies have shown that fibromyalgia is associated with reductions in gray matter in parts of the brain, but the exact cause is not known. Using sophisticated brain imaging techniques, researchers from Louisiana State University, writing in The Journal of Pain, found that alterations in levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine might be responsible for gray matter reductions. — Fibromyalgia Patients Show Decreases In Gray Matter Intensity

First Drug for Fibromyalgia pain in Canada

Relief in sight for Canadians suffering from a common chronic
widespread pain condition

KIRKLAND, QC, May 12 /CNW/ – Pfizer Canada Inc. announced today that LYRICA(R) (pregabalin) is now indicated for the management of pain associated with fibromyalgia, giving the approximately one million Canadians who suffer from this debilitating condition a key component towards managing their disease.

This new indication announcement, made on International Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, represents positive news for fibromyalgia sufferers since pain associated with the condition previously had no approved treatment options in Canada. Read full article

Coping with Fibromyalgia

You could say that I know a bit about this disease as it’s had me  for 20 years.  Simply put,  fibromyalgia won’t kill you, but you will die with it.  It doesn’t favor anyone … it affects men, women, and children of all ages and races. We live every day, hoping for a cure, praying our families can continue to cope with having to help us live with our invisible disabilities. There is really no definitive cause, and there’s no cure, so coping it what we focus on.
Continue reading “Coping with Fibromyalgia”

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Medical studies have linked a lack of sleep to everything from disruptions in the immune system to cognitive deficits to weight control. As the winter days are shorter and the weather is colder, I find myself getting into bed earlier and sleeping longer too. As green architect Carol Venolia reports, good sleep supports good health and productivity at work.

Here are four key steps you can take to turn your bedroom into a “sleep oasis:”

1. If you can see your hand after the lights are turned out, your bedroom is too light. According to Venolia, too much light in the evening disrupts the production of melatonin and interferes with sleep. One solution is to install dimmable CFLs in the bedroom. This will limit your light exposure just before bed, and you’ll rest easier knowing you’re saving energy. Outside lights can also interfere with your sleep. Consider designer Maggie Wood’s recommendations for green window coverings to shield your room from street lamps and other outdoor light sources.

2. Sleep as far as possible from the street and noisy equipment or appliances. Venolia recommends: “While some researchers suggest masking other sounds with a white noise generator or a fan, you might prefer something more natural, such as a recirculating fountain — with a quiet motor!”

3. Maintain an air temperature of 65 degrees year-round in the bedroom. Turning the thermostat up too high in the winter not only wastes energy; it can also disturb your sleep.

4. Your bed should be comfortable and good for your back, and it shouldn’t expose you to toxic fumes, dust mites, or mold. You wouldn’t lie down on a lawn doused with pesticides, so why sleep on a mattress made of pesticide-laden fabric? Debra Lynn Dadd’s “Buyer’s Guide to Healthy, Ecologically Sound Mattresses,” offers tips for finding a comfortable, nontoxic bed.

Continue reading “Getting a Good Night’s Sleep”

Fibromyalgia Page Update

Today I have updated my Fibromyalgia Research Links 2007 – 2008 post and also my Fibromyalgia Page.

The two new interesting research links are A Regular Dip In The Pool Could Benefit Fibromyalgia Sufferers February 25, 2008 and Marijuana-based Drug Reduces Fibromyalgia Pain, Study Suggests February 18, 2008.

And, the two new links I have featured on the Fibromyalgia Page are to the most frequently read posts, next to the post titled “Fibromyalgia Research Links 2007 – 2008″.

My readers are aware that although fibromyalgia will be with me until I die, I do not embrace it nor do I indicate that I own it by referring to it as “my fibromyalgia”. If you aren’t acquainted with this disease then I encourage you to read the featured posts as most assuredly we all know someone who has it or who will have it.

Fibromyalgia: Invisible Disabilities

An invisible disability is a disability that is not (always) immediately apparent to casual observers; that is, it is not visible to their naked eyes. I find fibromylagia to be an aggravating disease because the disabilities I suffer are frequently invisible to others and therefore, they expect more of me than what I can deliver. Continue reading “Fibromyalgia: Invisible Disabilities”

Fibromyalgia Research Links 2007 -2008

Although fibromyalgia is a relatively recent term, this syndrome has been known by several other names over the past years, including soft tissue rheumatism, fibrositis and non-articular rheumatism.

Symptoms and associated syndromes
Pain – The pain of FMS has no boundaries. People describe the pain as deep muscular aching, throbbing, shooting, and stabbing. Intense burning may also be present. Quite often, the pain and stiffness are worse in the morning and you may hurt more in muscle groups that are used repetitively.

Fatigue – This symptom can be mild in some patients and yet incapacitating in others. The fatigue has been described as “brain fatigue” in which patients feel totally drained of energy. Many patients depict this situation by saying that they feel as though their arms and legs are tied to concrete blocks, and they have difficulty concentrating, e.g., brain fog.

Sleep disorder – Most FMS patients have an associated sleep disorder called the alpha-EEG anomaly. This condition was uncovered in a sleep lab with the aid of a machine which recorded the brain waves of patients during sleep. Researchers found that most FMS patients could fall asleep without much trouble, but their deep level (or stage 4) sleep was constantly interrupted by bursts of awake-like brain activity. Patients appeared to spend the night with one foot in sleep and the other one out of it.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome – Constipation, diarrhea, frequent abdominal pain, abdominal gas, and nausea represent symptoms frequently found in roughly 40 to 70% of FMS patients.

Chronic headaches – Recurrent migraine or tension-type headaches are seen in about 50% of FMS patients and can pose a major problem in coping for this patient group.

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome
– This syndrome, sometimes referred to as TMJ or TMD, causes tremendous jaw-related face and head pain in one quarter of FMS patients. However, a 1997 published report indicated that close to 75% of FMS patients have a varying degree of jaw discomfort. Typically, the problems are related to the muscles and ligaments surrounding the jaw joint and not necessarily the joint itself.

Other common symptoms – Premenstrual syndrome and painful periods, chest pain, morning stiffness, cognitive or memory impairment, numbness and tingling sensations, muscle twitching, irritable bladder, the feeling of swollen extremities, skin sensitivities, dry eyes and mouth, dizziness, and impaired coordination can occur. Patients are often sensitive to odors, loud noises, bright lights, and sometimes even the medications that they are prescribed.

Aggravating factors – Changes in weather, cold or drafty environments, infections, allergies, hormonal fluctuations (premenstrual and menopausal states), stress, depression, anxiety and over-exertion may all contribute to symptom flare-ups. (From Fibromyalgia Network)

Treatments and drugs

In general, treatment for fibromyalgia includes both medication and self-care. The emphasis is on minimizing symptoms and improving general health.

Medications can help reduce the pain of fibromyalgia and improve sleep. Common choices include:

  • Analgesics. Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may ease the pain and stiffness caused by fibromyalgia. However, its effectiveness varies. Tramadol (Ultram) is a prescription pain reliever that may be taken with or without acetaminophen. Your doctor may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) or naproxen sodium (Anaprox, Aleve) — in conjunction with other medications. NSAIDs haven’t proved to be effective in managing the pain in fibromyalgia when taken by themselves.
  • Antidepressants. Your doctor may prescribe antidepressant medications such as amitriptyline, nortriptyline (Pamelor) or doxepin (Sinequan) to help promote sleep. Fluoxetine (Prozac) in combination with amitriptyline has also been found effective. Sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil) may help if you’re experiencing depression.Some evidence exists for a newer class of antidepressants known as serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors or dual uptake inhibitors, which regulate two brain chemicals that may transmit pain signals. Studies have found that duloxetine (Cymbalta) may help control pain better than placebo in people with fibromyalgia. Small trials of venlafaxine (Effexor) suggest the same, though more study is needed to confirm these findings.
  • Muscle relaxants. Taking the medication cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) at bedtime may help treat muscle pain and spasms. Muscle relaxants are generally limited to short-term use.
  • Pregabalin (Lyrica). Pregabalin may reduce pain and improve function in people with fibromyalgia. Pregabalin, an anti-seizure medication that’s also used to treat some types of pain, is the first drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat fibromyalgia. Studies show pregabalin reduced signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia in some people. In one study, about half of the participants taking the highest doses of the drug reported at least a 30 percent improvement. Side effects of pregabalin include dizziness, sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, blurred vision, weight gain, dry mouth, and swelling in the hands and feet.

Prescription sleeping pills, such as zolpidem (Ambien), may provide short-term benefits for some people with fibromyalgia, but doctors usually advise against long-term use of these drugs. These medications tend to work for only a short time, after which your body becomes resistant to their effects. Ultimately, using sleeping pills tends to create even more sleeping problems in many people.

Benzodiazepines may help relax muscles and promote sleep, but doctors often avoid these drugs in treating fibromyalgia. Benzodiazepines can become habit-forming, and they haven’t been shown to provide long-term benefits.

Doctors don’t usually recommend narcotics for treating fibromyalgia because of the potential for dependence and addiction. Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, haven’t been shown to be effective in treating fibromyalgia.

Cognitive behavior therapy
Cognitive behavior therapy seeks to strengthen your belief in your abilities and teaches you methods for dealing with stressful situations. Therapy is provided through individual counseling, classes, and with tapes, CDs or DVDs, and may help you manage your fibromyalgia.

Treatment programs
Programs that combine a variety of treatments may be effective in improving your symptoms, including relieving pain. These interdisciplinary programs can combine relaxation techniques, biofeedback and receiving information about chronic pain. There isn’t one combination that works best for everybody. Your doctor can create a program based on what works best for you.


Most of the research findings in fibromyalgia point to a malfunctioning of the central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain and spinal cord. Yet, there appear to be a variety of abnormalities occurring in the peripheral soft tissues (muscles and connective tissue) and the peripheral nervous system that communicates with the CNS. This dysfunctional interplay between the CNS and peripheral systems is believed by most investigators to be the source of the many body-wide symptoms. In a way, fibromyalgia could be considered a disease of the CNS.

Central nervous system research on fibromyalgia:

  • Alterations in pain-related chemical transmitters have been reported in the spinal fluid (particularly substance P, nerve growth factor, serotonin, norepinephrine, and corticotropin releasing factor)
  • Elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are substances that form a communication link between your body’s immune and neurological systems, have been found by many research teams
  • Different brain imaging techniques by several research centers have all shown that the blood flow and metabolic processes in the brain are significantly disturbed
  • Almost all people with fibromyalgia report difficulties staying asleep (e.g., the natural processes in the brain that maintain sleep appear to be disrupted)
  • The autonomic nervous system, whose control center resides at the base of the brain to communicate with the CNS to regulate the peripheral tissues, is not functioning properly
  • Research on the primary pain control system in the spinal cord indicates that it is not filtering out or dampening incoming noxious signals from the peripheral tissues
  • Several research studies pertaining to memory function tests show that people with fibromyalgia have an impaired ability to concentrate

Research findings show that the peripheral tissues are also involved in producing the symptoms of fibromyalgia:

  • Muscles are often tight and knotted with myofascial trigger points (areas in the belly of muscles that refer pain to other regions and cause restrictions in range of motion)
  • High levels of a nitric oxide-producing enzyme was documented by one research team to help explain why patients have exercise intolerance
  • Excessive levels of oxidative chemicals that irritate the tissues were found in the connective tissues in the tiny space between the muscle fibers
  • Reduced blood flow to the muscles as well as a reduction in the number of capillaries supplying nutrients to the tissues were confirmed by different research teams … these findings are hypothesized to be caused by the malfunctioning in the autonomic nervous system

Why do all of the above abnormalities exist in people with fibromyalgia? This is why research in this area is imperative.

  • Richard Gracely, Ph.D., and Daniel Clauw, M.D., of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, used fMRI to study fibromyalgia patients with and without depression.2 They found that different areas of the brain were activated when patients processed the sensory dimension of pain as opposed to those that were activated for depression (viewed as the affective component of pain because it has to do with how much emotional relevance a person attaches to their pain). They concluded, “Evaluation of these sensory and affective dimensions in patients with chronic pain is likely to improve diagnosis, choice of treatment, and treatment efficacy.”
  • The above findings are highly relevant in light of the common prescription of antidepressants for treating fibromyalgia. A 12-week treatment trial of the antidepressant, Effexor, revealed that fibromyalgia patients with depression benefited with improved mood.3 However, the pain of fibromyalgia was unfazed by the drug.
  • A separate report by Gracely and Clauw’s team measured the response to experimental pain stimuli in fibromyalgia patients and healthy controls.4 Interestingly, the healthy controls rated the stimuli to be significantly more unpleasant than the patients. Distress, anxiety or depression did not influence the patient’s unpleasantness ratings. The study’s authors suggest that the presence of chronic pain can alter one’s perception of experimental pain (perhaps as part of the brain’s reorganization process), which may pale in comparison to the day-to-day pain of fibromyalgia.
  • Ali Gur, M.D., of Turkey found an important cytokine chemical, IL-8, to be elevated in patients with fibromyalgia.5 Correlating this chemical with brain function, he found that fibromyalgia patients with little to no depression had higher IL-8 levels and more impaired brain blood flow than those with severe depression. In keeping with the concept that fibromyalgia and depression cause different alterations in brain function, Gur was able to tease out the chemical change caused by fibromyalgia (IL-8) and the compounding issue of feeling depressed.

In reference to the advances in technology, Apkarian and colleagues write: “We fully expect that the next generation of brain imaging studies of pain will impact clinical practice and thus contribute to decreasing pain in society.”6 How realistic is this projection? Very! Apkarian published a report this year showing how a single dose of an anti-inflammatory drug produced objective improvements in arthritis and a corresponding change in brain chemistry.7

1. Grachev ID, et al. J Neural Transm 109(10):1309-34, 2002.
2. Giesecke T, et al. Arthritis Rheum 52(5): 1577-84, 2005.
3. Sayar K, et al. Psychosomatics 46(4):340-4, 2005.
4. Petzke F, et al. Eur J Pain 9:325-35, 2005.
5. Gur A, et al. Clin Exp Rheumatol 20(6):753-60, 2002.
6. Apkarian AV, et al. Eur J Pain 9(4):463-84, 2005.
7. Baliki MN, et al. Mol Pain 1(1):32, 2005.

Continue reading “Fibromyalgia Research Links 2007 -2008″

Fibromyalgia Research Links 2007

Gabapentin Shown Effective For Fibromyalgia Pain (June 12, 2007) — New research shows that the anticonvulsant medication gabapentin, which is used for certain types of seizures, can be an effective treatment for the pain and other symptoms associated with the common, often hard-to-treat chronic pain disorder, fibromyalgia. > full story

FDA Approves First Drug For Treating Fibromyalgia (June 22, 2007) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Lyrica (pregabalin), the first drug to treat fibromyalgia, a disorder characterized by pain, fatigue and sleep problems. Lyrica reduces pain and improves daily functions for some patients with fibromyalgia. > full story

Further Legitimization Of Fibromyalgia As A True Medical Condition (June 25, 2007) — Fibromyalgia, a chronic, widespread pain in muscles and soft tissues accompanied by fatigue, is a fairly common condition that does not manifest any structural damage in an organ. Fibromyalgia, affecting approximately 2% of the US population, is an example of a class of maladies called CSS. These diseases are based on neurochemical abnormalities and include irritable bowel syndrome, migraine and restless legs syndrome. > full story

Mindfulness Meditation: A New Treatment For Fibromyalgia? (August 6, 2007) — Fibromyalgia has emerged as a common, yet difficult to treat disorder. A group of investigators has proposed a new modality of treatment. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) proposes a systematic program for reduction of suffering associated with a wide range of medical conditions. > full story

Why Don’t Painkillers Work For People With Fibromyalgia? (October 3, 2007) — New research shows that people with fibromyalgia were found to have reduced binding ability of a type of receptor in the brain that is the target of opioid painkiller drugs such as morphine. > full story

Related fibromyalgia blog posts can be found on this page.

Meditation Therapy For Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

A revered contemplative practice for centuries, meditation has recently inspired research into its therapeutic value for everything from anxiety disorders to heart attack prevention. A painful, progressive autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis is associated with a high risk of depression — double the risk of the healthy population, by conservative estimates — and various forms of psychological distress. Increasingly, RA patients are turning to alternative therapies like meditation to ease the toll of their disease. Mindfulness-based stress reduction shows promise for easing psychological distress associated with disease symptoms.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a meditation training program developed by Dr. Kabat-Zinn and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. MBSR teaches participants to relate differently to thoughts and emotions, and continually focus the mind on the present moment to increase clarity and calmness. The program has been shown to improve psychological symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia, cancer, and multiple sclerosis, among other conditions. -> full story

Related fibromylagia post links can be found on this page.

Fibromyalgia: The Pain-Sleep Connection

Barb Cacia, part of the new Arthritis and Fibromyalgia Care Center within Lattimore Physical Therapy says that if you have fibromyalgia, deep, restorative sleep can decrease pain.

Cacia, who counsels clients about sleep, as well as exercise, nutrition, stress management and relaxation says deep sleep makes neurotransmitters such as serotonin more efficient and regulates pain intensity.

Cacia suggests copying children’s sleep routine. Take a bath about one hour before bedtime. Have a light carbohydrate snack, read something boring, keep the lights low and limit use of telephone, computer and TV so your mind has a chance to wind down.

“Practice. Be patient and gentle with yourself,” says Cacia. “Sleep is a habit and learning a new habit will take time, but reducing your pain is a great benefit to all this hard work.” Also talk to your doctor. Medications that boost the level of serotonin help many people. Source

Complementary and alternative medicine for fibromyalgia

Complementary and alternative therapies for pain and stress management aren’t new. Some, such as meditation and yoga, have been practiced for thousands of years. But their use has become more popular in recent years, especially with people who have chronic illnesses, such as fibromyalgia.
Continue reading “Complementary and alternative medicine for fibromyalgia”

Spiderman Work-out

The fibromyalgia I suffer from means that pounding the pavement is not healing exercise for me. In fact, I had to give up running and high impact aerobics because the result was joint pain and swelling from leaking synovial fluid. That’s why I’m always on the watch for fitness programs that I can modify to suit my limitations.

spiderman_qjpreviewth.jpgWell, with the superhero workout below, you can shape up like Spider-Man, too. But these three activities aren’t for the weak. If you’re a beginner, start slowly and work your way up to this challenge. Try these three times weekly.

Peter Parker push-ups:
Start on the floor in traditional push-up position. Keep your abs braced and your body in a straight line, parallel to the floor. Slowly lower yourself down, and as you do, bring your right knee toward your right elbow. Try to rotate your knee so it is outside your elbow, keeping your foot off the ground. Hold for 5 seconds, pushing through your chest, shoulders and triceps, and then return to the starting position. Aim for 5 to 10 push-ups per side.

Superhero side planks:
Side planks will help build your core strength, which is important for balance and dexterity. Start by lying on the floor on your left side. Then lift up on your left elbow so that your hips are off the floor and your entire body is in a straight line. Hold for one minute and then repeat on the right side. That’s one set. Aim to do three sets on each side.

Spidey sprints:
To do your best Spidey imitation, you need to be built for speed. Get outdoors for this one. The goal is to do 10, 100-yard sprints. Be sure to warm-up first with some jogging and half-paced practice sprints, then pick up the pace. Sprint as hard as you can — go, go, go, go, go! Record your times and see how you improve each week. At the end of each sprinting session, take a little walk to keep things loose and then get in some nice stretches.

Maybe you can handle the whole enchilada or maybe you will need to modify the Spiderman work out to make it suit. In my case I’ve cut the push-ups down to 2 per side but the rest of the work-out I can cope with as is.

4 Minute Fitness Videos

Fitsugar has some 4 Minute Exercise Videos worth viewing. Check them out.

  • Short, Sweet & Complete Abs
  • For a few tips, just

    • You want to make sure you are working your deep abs the entire time. So focus on pulling your navel to your spine.
    • To keep tension out of your neck when doing crunches, think of holding an orange between your chin and your chest. Don’t juice the orange, but don’t drop it either.
    • When performing toe taps and heel taps, keep the torso and pelvis totally still. Use your abs to do this.
    • Have fun with the Hip Ups, but remember to control the motion and really scoop out your low belly.
    • When twisting to work your obliques, isolate the movement to just the rib cage. Don’t move your low back.
  • Tone Your Love Handles
  • Starter Arm Workout
  • Here is the third installment of the Test Case series: Starter Arms. This video is all about toning the upper arms to get you ready for springtime tank tops.

    You will need a set of 5 to 8 pound dumbbells. If you don’t have weights experiment with soup cans or full water bottles. Try to do this every other day for 2 weeks and see if your arm tone changes. Consider it an experiment or a challenge.

    Some of the exercises are done with just one weight, but experiment and see if you can handle using both. Feel free to repeat the series once or twice.

  • Booty Workout **NEW**
  • Here are a few tips:

    • Use a soft mat when performing the first 3 exercises – be nice to your knees.
    • In Charlie Chaplin really pull your abs away from the floor and your hand. This will help keep your low back muscles relaxed to ensure more work in your glutes – which is what we want, right?
    • Bridge with your legs in parallel (heels in line with sits bones) and your heels close to your booty (this will make the hamstrings work less and the glutes more). You can use a small ball or a pillow between your knees to get the inner thighs more active too.
    • Read this post You don’t know SQUAT for more on the technique of Squats.
    • For Plié Squats and Lunges remember to not tuck your pelvis under and you’ll be golden.
    • REMEMBER: If a move hurts or feels weird, try the motion smaller. If the move still feels weird, stop and try it again in a couple of days.

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    Headaches Be Gone! Home Headache Remedies

    headache & depressionHeadaches: just about everyone has had at least one in their lifetime. There’s a lucky few that have never had one. Headaches can be mild, tension caused, or the migraine, the most painful. There are cluster headaches, which is when you have one headache after another. They can occur daily for weeks at a time. Continue reading “Headaches Be Gone! Home Headache Remedies”

    Fibromyalgia Research Links

    Abnormal Pain Memory Helps To Explain Fibromyalgia (November 1, 2000) — The symptoms of fibromyalgia may be the result of a central nervous system that “remembers” pain sensations for an abnormally long time, according to research presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting Oct. 29 — Nov. 2 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. > full story

    Mayo Clinic Study Finds Brief Fibromyalgia Treatment Program Reduces Some Symptoms (April 10, 2001) — Mayo Clinic researchers have found that a brief interdisciplinary treatment program for fibromyalgia reduces some symptoms, especially in people more severely affected by this chronic disorder. > full story

    Continue reading “Fibromyalgia Research Links”

    Fibromyalgia Awareness Day May 12

    Fibromyalgia Awareness Day May 12
    When I was diagnosed, I made a vow to myself that I may have fibromyalgia, but fibromyalgia will never have me. There is really no definitive cause and there’s no cure. Simply put, Fibromyalgia won’t kill you but you will die with it.

    What is fibromyalgia?

    • Fibromyalgia (pronounced fy-bro-my-al-ja) is widespread pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons. Ligaments and tendons connect muscles to bones.
    • Fibromyalgia also causes people to have trouble sleeping and feel very tired all the time.

    Although fibromyalgia is a relatively recent term, this syndrome has been known by several other names over the past years, including soft tissue rheumatism, fibrositis and non-articular rheumatism.
    Continue reading “Fibromyalgia Awareness Day May 12″