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Fibromyalgia: The Muscle Pain Epidemic
Is it ME by Another Name? (Part 1)

© Leon Chaitow ND, DO, MRO

The majority of the research discussed in this article derives from the USA where the distinction between CFS and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) is largely unknown And since there is still disagreement amongst experts as to whether CFS is the same as ME or not - and it seems likely that this argument will run for some time - this text will therefore bracket the condition(s) as CFS(ME).

In marked contrast to the time it has taken for research into ME and CFS to emerge there has over the past few years been an explosion in the medical literature featuring Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS).

The more the condition has been researched (FMS that is) the more obvious it has become that there is a vast overlap between it and ME/CFS.

The Commonest Symptoms Found in Fibromyalgia Are: 1,2,3,4

  • 100% of people with FMS have muscular pain, aching and/or stiffness (especially in the morning)

  • Almost all suffer fatigue and badly disturbed sleep.

  • Symptoms are almost always worse in cold or humid weather.

  • The majority of people with FMS have a history of injury - sometimes serious but often only minor within the year before the symptoms started.

  • 70% to 100% (different studies show variable numbers) are found to have depression (though many consider that this is more likely to be a result of the muscular pain rather than part of the cause).

  • 73% to 34% have Irritable Bowel Syndrome

  • 56% to 44% have severe headaches

  • 50% to 30% have Raynaud’s phenomenon (hands go dead white and cold)

  • 24% suffer from anxiety

  • 18% have dry eyes and/or mouth (Sicca syndrome)

  • 12% have osteoarthritis

  • 7% have rheumatoid arthritis

  • An as yet unidentified number of people with FMS have had silicone breast implants and a newly identified Silicon Breast Implant Syndrome (SBIS) is now being defined.

  • Between 3 and 6% are found to have substance (drugs/alcohol) abuse problems.
Other Conditions Which Are Extremely Common with Fibromyalgia Include:
Allergies, chronic rhinitis (almost constant runny nose), easy bruising, night cramps, restless leg syndrome, dizziness (sometimes caused by the widely prescribed anti-depressant medication given to help the sleep problems in FMS), sleep apnoea (breathing seems to stop while asleep), dry eyes and mouth, bruxism (teeth grinding), extreme sensitivity to light (photophobia), premenstrual syndrome, digestive disturbances, viral infections, Lyme disease (resulting from tick-bite), itchy skin - with or without a rash, loss of hair, sensitive bladder, mouth ulcers, generalised muscular stiffness, ‘foggy’ brain (difficulty in concentrating and poor short term memory), dyslexia (wrong words come out or what is read is not understood), panic attacks, phobias, mood swings, irritability, a feeling of hands and feet being swollen without evidence of fluid retention.

The Official Definition of/criteria for FMS 5
Many people suffer from generalised, muscular aching and pain, however this only officially becomes the medical condition labelled ‘Fibromyalgia Syndrome’ (FMS) when this aching muscle pain is accompanied by pain produced when pressure is applied to certain specific body areas. The most commonly accepted definition is that the person affected needs to show:

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About The Author
A practicing naturopath, osteopath, and acupuncturist in the United Kingdom, with over forty years clinical experience, Chaitow is Editor-in-Chief, of the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. He regularly lectures in the United States as well as Europe where he instructs......more
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