A survey by The Fibromyalgia Network reports that 62% of their respondents list physical or emotional stress as the initiating factor in their acquiring fibromyalgia.
I believe chronic stress is the underlying catalyst for the onset of HPA dysfunction and fibromyalgia. Several studies have demonstrated how chronic stress undermines the normal hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) function.
When explaining the role of stress in fibromyalgia, I find the following analogy helps put stress and fibromyalgia into perspective.
“We are all born with a stress coping savings account. This account is filled with numerous chemicals we use to help us deal with daily stress-serotonin, norepinephrine, cortisol, magnesium, and other important hormones and nutrients al help counter stress. The more stress we encounter, the more stress coping chemicals we use. We replenish our stress coping savings account with adequate rest. Consistent deep restorative sleep ensures we are making more deposits than withdrawals from our stress coping account.
Since fibromyalgia patients struggle with getting a consistent good nights sleep they eventually bankrupt their stress coping account. Once tyour stress coping savings account is depleted poor health and the many symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, pain, fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, depression, low thyroid, etc. start to raise their ugly heads.
With so many different symptoms, it’s no surprise that fibromyalgia and CFS patients are typically taking 6–12 different prescription drugs. Lyrica, Elavil, Klonopin, Paxil, Effexor, Xanax, Trazadone, Neurontin, Zanaflex, Ambien, Lunesta, Cymbalta, and Provigil have all been heralded as “the drug” for fibromyalgia. Some of these are helpful, some worthless, and some really dangerous.
Drug management alone typically fails to yield lasting relief from the most common fibromyalgia and CFS symptoms, and patients’ and doctors’ optimism over a new drug treatment eventually gives way to this sad reality. Oh well, a new drug with an even larger marketing budget is on the horizon. (Forgive my cynicism. I’ve just seen this situation so many times!)
After seventeen years of specializing in treating and beating fibromyalgia I’ve learned that traditional medicine alone yields little if any long-term results.
The best hope for those with fibromyalgia is to find and work with a doctor who practices integrative medicine-combining judicious use of prescription drugs (short-term if possible) and natural therapies (vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients).
Combining prescription drugs (when needed) with natural supplements allows the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia to be corrected, not just covered-up.
Hang in there-you can beat fibromyalgia. Don’t give up.