Fibromyalgia is a complex disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, poor memory and mood issues. It is currently not considered an autoimmune disease but has many similarities to systemic inflammatory conditions, including autoimmune disorders. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.
Women are much more likely to develop fibromyalgia than are men. Many people who have fibromyalgia also have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, sleep disturbances, anxiety and depression.
Conventional Treatment of Fibromyalgia
In general, conventional treatment for fibromyalgia includes medications that focus on managing the symptoms of fibromyalgia, including pain, depression and sleeping disorders.
Functional Medicine Management of Fibromyalgia
A comprehensive approach to the management of complex conditions such as fibromyalgia must take into consideration many aspects of health, including gut barrier integrity and imbalances of gut flora, liver detoxification capacity and toxic burden, hormone imbalances, energy production capacity, nutrient status and most importantly, immune imbalances which promote inflammatory states. More specifically, Functional Medicine approaches fibromyalgia by supporting normal physiology of the organ systems which become imbalanced in this condition and may contribute to the development and progression of this condition.
There are several areas of management of fibromyalgia in the Functional Medicine approach:
- Assessing for and eliminating pathogenic infection and supporting immune health
- Restoring normal gut barrier integrity, digestion and gut microbial balance
- Supporting liver detoxification processes and decreasing toxic load
- Supporting restoration of hormone levels, including adrenal hormones involved in the sleep-wake cycle
- Supporting restoration of brain neurotransmitters and neurotransmitter function responsible for mood, cognition and pain perception
- Supporting energy production by the mitochondria, the “power-houses” of the body’s cells
- Restoring healthy levels of nutrients in cases of nutritional deficiencies