Fibromyalgia: A Real Pain in the – Muscles and Fibers
by John R. Bomar, D.C.
This article was featured in Venture Inward, July/August 2008.
They usually come in “hurting all over” are often depressed, discouraged, and not sleeping well. They report arising stiff and sore in the morning, feeling fatigued and unrested. They have frequently had bouts of irritable bowel symptoms and appear anxious and feel chronically “burned out.” Their faces often reflect a lack of animation. According to the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), 3 to 6 million Americans suffer from some form of the disorder. A majority of them are women of child bearing age. But fibromyalgia (pain of fiber and muscle origin) can also affect the elderly, men and children.
Widespread, chronic muscle, tendon and ligament pain, chronic fatigue and multiple areas of trigger point tenderness characterize fibromyalgia. The condition has been recognized in previous times, but known by other names like muscular rheumatism, fibrositis and tension myalgia.
Allopathic medicine does not recognize a cause for fibromyalgia. Current thinking centers around an increase in sensitivity to pain signals in the individual caused by physiological and hormonal imbalance. Sleep disturbance, past injury, infection, metabolic changes in muscle and protracted stress are other considerations. Interestingly for chiropractic and osteopathic physicians because of its close anatomical relation to the spine, abnormalities in sympathetic nervous system function have also been postulated as a cause of fibromyalgia.
Diagnosing fibromyalgia can be difficult, as it can mimic many other disorders. Most individuals are diagnosed by a process of elimination after discounting more serious conditions. The ACR has established the criteria of at least three months of chronic widespread pain and tenderness in at least 11 of 18 specific trigger points. Some physicians see this as too narrow a parameter and recent interest has developed in the concept of “regional” fibromyalgia.
Medical treatment of fibromyalgia includes recommendations for such aerobic exercise as swimming and walking, heat and massage treatments, antidepressant and analgesic/muscle relaxant medications, sleep aids, physical therapy, and relaxation techniques with guided imagery.
THE CAYCE PERSPECTIVE
The Cayce readings see systemwide toxicity as a fundamental precursor in the development of fibromyalgia: All living cells produce toxic wastes as a byproduct of the work they perform. Essentially, fibromyalgia is seen as a condition where the body is poisoned by its own metabolic wastes, which are not being properly eliminated. The readings identify an impaired “hepatic (liver) system,” which includes some degree of heart, liver, lung and kidney involvement, as the root cause of the problem. Since the liver, kidneys, and lungs are primary detoxifiers of the body, along with the skin, when these organs do not function well, auto-intoxication (self-poisoning) is the result.
The Cayce readings correctly view life as basically an electromagnetic phenomenon. In the East this essential internal energy reserve is known as “chi,” and in the West as the “elan vitale.” The readings describe the liver and kidneys as akin to the body’s storage battery, with the liver serving as the positive pole and the kidneys as the negative. When these organs are deficient in function, the body’s “battery” is said to be run down. Chronic fatigue, low vitality and organic depression are the result. In the reading for a 22-year-old woman (136-66), Mr. Cayce described her condition as “listlessness that occurs at times, and the lack of energy …and the inability to throw off the leadened, heavy feeling….”
Just as the internal composition of a battery can influence its charge, so too does the inner atmosphere of the human body influence its vitality and strength. Scientific studies increasingly confirm the Cayce view that, for maximum energy, health and wellness, we should be primarily vegetarians, with fruits and vegetables making up the great majority (70-80%) of what we eat. The readings also confirm a recent popular admonition to “forget organic, buy locally.” Good quality whole grains, seeds, nuts and oils, dairy and lean (light) meats should make up the other percentage of food taken. This produces both an anti-inflammatory effect and creates an alkalized internal atmosphere, which discourages invasion and reproduction of human pathogens, which are commonly “pH dependent” and acid-loving.
System-wide toxicity demands that primary attention be given to the basic processes of hydration and increased waste eliminations. My personal observation is that very few chronic pain patients consume sufficient water for their body’s needs, which is estimated to be at least eight glasses of water daily (more in the summer). They “don’t like water” or try to substitute colas, teas and coffee, all of which are diuretic, resulting in little or no net gain of fluid.
Almost all human biochemical processes require hydrogen. Without sufficient water these processes slow significantly, contributing to fatigue, gumming up the works and accentuating the accumulation of poisonous wastes. Chronic under-hydration or frank dehydration also slows bowel motility, which can result in re-absorption of toxic fecal waste into the general circulation. “Water is medicine” is my advice to these patients, along with a cleansing diet of bulky fresh fruits, vegetables, salads, raw celery and bran. The undigested cellulose from these foods acts as a scrub brush going through the gut, cleaning the walls of accumulated waste. Enemas and laxatives were also recommended in internal cleansing of the lower bowel.
For the more severe cases of long standing auto-intoxication, which is usually identified by some change in skin tone (saggy) and color (brownish/gray), I recommend a patient consider a series of colonic irrigations. Castor oil packs over the liver to promote flushing and cleansing were also frequently recommended.
Manual, hands-on therapy (spinal adjustment, massage, lymph drainage, Chapman’s Reflexes) was recommended in the Cayce readings as needed treatment for almost all sufferers of chronic pain. By my observation, spinal mechanical lesions (subluxations) always stimulate some degree of guarding regional muscle spasms, which are often quite chronic. Long-standing muscle spasms create fibrous adhesions, local irritation and inflammation, pain, and the “trigger point” tenderness associated with fibromyalgia.
The readings also state repeatedly that nerve “impingements” associated with spinal subluxations create degradation of autonomic nervous system communication between the central nervous system and organ tissue. Attached to the spine, the chain of sympathetic nervous system control center’s main function is to regulate blood flow patterns. Thus, ischemia (lack of blood flow) is thought to be another mechanism by which organ function is impaired.
In applying any form of manual therapy, a practitioner should take great care in the early stages of treating fibromyalgia. Since these patients have heightened sensitization to pain, overly aggressive, ham-fisted approaches will often backfire, creating such additional suffering and pain as to result in a lost patient. In the early days, many osteopathic and chiropractic physicians prescribed sustained anti-inflammatory measures like repetitive cold packs to painful areas of the spine, and a series of hands-on massages before attempting spinal mobilization. And it only makes good sense physiologically.
In recommending dietary and lifestyle changes to patients I have found it beneficial to discuss the “opportunity of illness.” While this may sound counter-intuitive, I explain that the reason for the pain signal is to alert them to the underlying tissue distress that needs to be changed for the better. I agree with the Cayce perspective that most disease results from long-standing imbalance in normal physiology caused by diet, lifestyle, and mechanical spinal distress. These produce malfunction in nervous system control, chronic inflammation, and emotional distress.
The readings also mention lymphatic stasis (non-movement) as a factor in toxicity of fibromyalgia. The lymph system, remember, is that great internal ocean of seawater that bathes all cells and is home to most of the body’s defenses, while also being the waste portal system. Lymph fluid moves mostly by muscular contraction, so some form of moderate exercise such as walking, swimming, or bike riding is essential to recovery from fibromyalgia. Arm movement and arm swings while walking are designed by nature to pump the lymph’s “dirty seawater” back into the veins (under the collarbone) where it is eventually filtered and cleansed. Yoga-type breath and stretching exercises produce healthy spinal flexibility and reduce the ill effects of protracted stress and were frequently recommended in the readings, along with the Violet Ray for its relaxation effect.
The skin and lungs also play an important role in eliminating poisonous metabolic wastes. The readings frequently recommend perspiring a well-hydrated body in a steam cabinet (sauna) combined with oils like witch hazel, wintergreen, or tincture of iodine. If this is not available, I tell patients to soak 20 minutes or so in a hot bath with the curtain closed. To further help the process of elimination I recommend lying on your back in the water and squeezing your body into a tight ball, holding for 10 seconds (muscular contraction) then sitting up and doing 10 slow, backward windmills of the arms (lymphatic pump effect). Do at least seven repetitions. This combines the benefit of sweating and increased lymph flow for detoxifying effect.
Finally, as in many other conditions of illness, the readings mention mind and spirit in relation to fibromyalgia. “Mind is the builder, or mind is the slayer” is a well-known Cayce axiom that acknowledges the health or disease effect of attitude and emotion. Fear-filled, short-fused, angry folk who habitually engage in what Zig Ziglar called “stinking thinking,” eventually pay a price in their body’s lack of wellness. And taking in lots of outside information that produces distress and inner turmoil, while feeling completely helpless to improve the situation (CNN syndrome), is what Hans Selye called “pathologically alarming” to us human animals. Conversely, regular time spent in inspirational reading and positive thought of our highest purposes and ideals, followed by some time for prayer and meditation or deep relaxation, contributes substantially to the healing process.
Fibromyalgia can be healed and left behind if one recognizes its multi-faceted causes and takes a comprehensive approach to its treatment.
Dr. John Bomar, a 1978 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic, practices in Arkadelphia, Ark. He is a past board member of the Arkansas Chiropractic Association and a founding board member of the Arkansas Chiropractic Educational Society.