Fibromyalgia is another complex and misunderstood condition with many possible variations of symptoms and comorbidities, making it very difficult to treat. The fact remains that many doctors and patients and the medical community as a whole have a difficult time understanding and working with this condition. It is therefore unsurprising to learn that many physicians can’t help but feel that the condition is made up, that it’s all in the mind of the patient. This suggestion is not entirely untrue, and we will explore why later, but even if fibromyalgia originates in the psyche of a patient, it does not make the pain any less real. As we know in medicine the mind is the most powerful medical tool we have. In the end, both patients and physicians want a treatment for fibromyalgia that addresses the pain and improves the quality of life for patients.
Since the first cases of fibromyalgia cropped up, doctors have been scrambling to understand its origins not only to determine a proper treatment but to understand the patient’s experience. Doctors Christine Davis and Marian Gillard claim that, “. . . [t]he symptoms of fibromyalgia can be misperceived because they are often visibly undetectable, thereby leaving persons with fibromyalgia exposed to others’ incorrect understanding of their experience and physical capabilities. Persons with fibromyalgia may experience stigma, when nobody understands the condition or how it affects their daily occupations” (2022). Unlike some conditions, such as osteoporosis or peripheral neuropathy, that have years of research that has resulted in successful diagnosis and treatment options, fibromyalgia is relatively nascent in comparison. However, for many, fibromyalgia pain is still pain and its treatment has not been unlike the treatment of other conditions. In fact, for some patients treatment can be as simple as vitamin replenishment and supplementation to balance out the system, or as we’re learning more about the gut biome connection with the brain we may discover that many conditions will need a specialized probiotic treatment.
In a 2022 study examining the role of vitamin D deficiency in fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) and chronic musculoskeletal pain (CMP), Dr. Mauro Lombardo and his associates concluded that, “. . . vitamin D deficiency is frequently observed in FMS and CMP patients, and supplementation with vitamin D can be proposed to reduce musculoskeletal pain and improve the quality of life in vitamin D-deficient subjects with FMS and CMP” (2022). While patients may be unable to explain the origin of their FMS and doctors unclear on how to diagnose the condition, one of the first steps is for doctors to suggest supplementing vitamin D. This natural treatment for the condition is music to the ears of both patients and doctors as they will be less likely to look into conditions with more unwanted side-effects.
For any who may still doubt the existence of fibromyalgia at all, it should be understood that the condition is very real. As a matter of clarification, the condition of FMS is recognized and has an entry in the 10th edition of The International Classification of Diseases which is seen as one of the most reputable sources for diagnosis of disability. For all intents and purposes, fibromyalgia is a legitimate condition and often results in debilitating pain for the affected patient. Those who claim they’ve experienced the pain of fibromyalgia and seek medical attention or treatment are often met with skepticism from their physicians or treatment centers who have no clinical method of diagnosing the condition or finding the cause. And while patients may feel foolish for suggesting they have a condition their physician may or may not understand, patients should be made aware of their physicians’ perspective. Dr. Bernstein sums up the experience of doctors when they encounter FMS with the following: “They leave us feeling ignorant because we do not understand them and feeling impotent because we cannot cure them. They hector us for notes certifying their disability without providing the usual signifiers of legitimacy” (2016). Although an understandable frustration mounts between doctor and patient, it is the physician’s responsibility to find an effective treatment that will alleviate the pain and treat the problem their patients are experiencing. The doctors experience pressure and the patients experience frustration.
Diagnosis of the cause is frustrating for physicians and Bernstein also concedes that, “we have to be open to the possibility physicians can be part of the problem . . . Perhaps we find ourselves on a pedestal of wisdom we do not deserve”. Either way, doctors must work with their patients to address the condition and work to understand it so that the stigma may lessen. At the same time, patients need to understand that little is known about what causes fibromyalgia. Most of the time, doctors who specialize in treatment of pain conditions will examine the body for signs of a cause. If a physician can locate and diagnose a condition’s cause, they will know how to treat it. The issue with fibromyalgia is that there are no apparent physical signs for the cause of fibromyalgia. While there is no clinical method of diagnosing the physical cause of fibromyalgia, many have turned to finding a psychiatric cause for fibromyalgia.
Speculation for a psychiatric origin of the disability is not new and behavioral health elements have been determined by some physicians to be the primary cause of this debilitating pain. Because the condition cannot be diagnosed by conventional clinical diagnostics, Dr. Bernstein concedes that, “. . . it is possible that fibromyalgia is more psychiatric than musculoskeletal”, and that perhaps “. . . patients have been encouraged to anchor their lives around their misery. Yet none of these factors make fibromyalgia any less real”. Dr. Bernstein’s claim that perhaps patients are “encouraged” to center their lives around the pain suggests that he may believe that the conditions of fibromyalgia are driven by psychosomatic means, psychosomatic meaning a physical manifestation of symptoms from mental or emotional distress. Physicians Fatmanur Kocak and Emine Eda Kurt have determined that “[i]ndividuals with fibromyalgia often have comorbid anxiety, depression, and/or other pain syndromes” (2018). These determinations suggest that some who suffer from fibromyalgia may wish to seek psychiatric attention; however, this does not change the fact that the patient is still in physical pain that needs to be addressed. Depression and anxiety being a cause of the condition often detracts from physicians understanding a physical manifestation of pain. Though it may be difficult to relate a mental/emotional origin to a physical manifestation of pain, physicians should be careful not to dismiss FMS as made up or simply in the minds of their patients. Listening and working to understand a patient’s experience with fibromyalgia is the first step to making them feel comfortable discussing the condition and more importantly, it is the first step in finding an effective treatment.
While many treatments exist across the spectrum of painful conditions, not all can claim efficacy and lasting results. What’s worse, many patients go through a litany of side-effects from treatment trials they would have rather not experienced in addition to their fibromyalgia pain. This is where Neuragenex may be able to provide a treatment that is suitable to cover these concerns and treat the patient. Neuragenex created and pioneered the field of Neurofunctional Pain Management which uses a pain relief approach combined with a health restoration approach to treat pain.
Neurofunctional Pain Management uses a combination of high pulse electrical stimulation, specialized hydration therapy with nutritional deficiencies balancing, and a robust lifestyle counseling training program that can help patients stay out of pain while they continue to maintain better health. Neurofunctional Pain Management is a thorough and extensive treatment program that tackles pain at the source. With a condition like fibromyalgia, the pain be debilitating but patients can have confidence in understanding that treatment is more than just a pill, it’s a non-pharmaceutical, non-surgical, non-invasive, and non-chiropractic pain treatment program. This brings a tremendous level of confidence to patients looking for treatment options.
Neuragenex has shaped the Neurofunctional Pain Management treatment model to effectively work for a wide range of pain conditions. Fibromyalgia is one of the many conditions that may be effectively treated by Neuragenex using our non-pharmaceutical, non-surgical, non-invasive, and non-chiropractic approach to pain relief and health restoration. At Neuragenex, our mission is to relieve pain, restore health, and magnify quality of life without medications, surgeries, or invasive procedures. Our vision is to be the first thought, first choice, and first step in the journey of chronic pain relief.