Fibromyalgia Syndrome: A Look at Chronic Pain Syndrome


Written by Clare Abercrombie Aside from Osteoporosis, Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) is the most common musculoskeletal condition currently afflicting Americans. This chronic pain syndrome is significantly misunderstood and under-researched even though the number of people suffering from this debilitating condition increases each year. FMS is a chronic pain syndrome that includes widespread muscle and joint pain and fatigue, which usually increases the patient’s risk of anxiety and depression disorders. A patient suffering from FMS may feel sudden onset fatigue, tender points all over their bodies especially around the joints, and moderate to severe sharp pains. Symptoms of FMS may range in severity and usually include a combination of: chronic headaches, pain and tenderness throughout the body, fatigue, difficulty sleeping including sudden sleep disturbances, sensitivity to cold and/or heat, dry eyes/nose/mouth, irritable bowel syndrome, and tingling in the fingers/toes.

Diet to Control Fibromyalgia Syndrome

FMS pain may be caused by a number of variables including but not limited to: an inflammatory response throughout the blood stream, the release of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines into the blood stream which is linked to persistent pain particularly along the central nervous system (CNS), and heightened levels of oxalates in the kidneys, bloodstream, and muscle tissues.

Certain dietary changes may go a long way to help you or a loved one manage chronic pain caused by FMS. Majority of FMS patients suffer from deficiencies or borderline deficiencies in Vitamin D which can increase muscle pain and joint inflammation. It is important for FMS patient to regularly test Vitamin D levels in their blood through routine lab work and should aim for 50-80 ng/mL of 25-hydroxy Vitamin D. Vitamin D acts like a hormone in our body. It is synthesized from the sun and is difficult to get through our diet. When choosing a Vitamin D supplement make sure it also contains Vitamin K2. This helps maximized absorption and protect your bones.

It can be beneficial to avoid food additives and foods that cause inflammatory reactions. It is common to have a food sensitivity or intolerance to a food. This can trigger inflammation in your gut and in turn your musculoskeletal system. Your practitioner may recommend a variety of tests to help determine treatment for FMS, one test that may be helpful is a food allergy test. Knowing your food allergies and sensitivities will help you identify and remove them from your diet. Because the pain experienced while suffering from FMS is caused by an immune response, it is important to try and eliminate any foods that may increase the release of cytokines into the blood stream.

Eating an anti-inflammatory diet is key to reducing pain and inflammation. An anti-inflammatory diet is low in processed carbohydrates but rich in fruits, vegetables, and healthy Omega-3 fats. Omega-3 rich foods help to restore proper cell function, decrease morning stiffness, and decrease tender joints. Try incorporating Omega-3 rich foods such as wild caught fatty fish and perhaps a fish oil supplement into your daily regime. To ensure a quality fish oil supplement select one that is in triglyceride form and has a high percentage of the active ingredients EPA and DHA.

Lastly, try eliminating caffeine. I know this is a tough suggestion, but trust me it may help reset your sleep schedule. Caffeine, especially if consumed too late in the day can cause sleep disturbance, actually enhancing this FMS symptom.

Determine and Treat FMS with an Integrative Approach

If you or a loved one suffers from a combination of the symptoms listed above, it is important to diagnose Fibromyalgia Syndrome immediately. This chronic pain syndrome can cause worsening of pain and depression over time if left untreated. Your health care provider can discuss a variety of tests that can first diagnose FMS and second formulate a treatment plan that works with your body.  To determine root cause, we may recommend specialized tests to determine a yeast overgrowth, heightened oxalates, vitamin deficiencies (especially Vitamin D) and inflammatory markers. Your integrative medicine practitioner can utilize results from these functional medicine tests to determine the appropriate response for effectively and holistically treating a person suffering from FMS.