November 13, 2019

Mind-Body Approach to Healing – Zero Pain Now

Neuro-Linguistic Programming practitioner Adam Heller has written a book entitled Zero Pain Now in which he describes a “mind-body” approach to healing fibromyalgia pain.  Mr. Heller argues that fibromyalgia causes physical changes in the brain that can be reversed without the use of narcotic pain mediations.  Take a look at Mr. Heller’ s video.  If you have had experience with Zero Pain Now – either positive or negative, please let us know.

Fibromyalgia from Adam Heller on Vimeo.

So What if Your Social Security Judge Calls Fibromyalgia a Mental Health Condition!

Social Security judges often call psychologists to testify as expert witnesses in fibromyalgia disability cases because there is medical literature that characterizes fibromyalgia as a mental health condition that produces physical symptoms.

However, if you mention cognitive behavioral therapy to fibromyalgia advocates and you’re sure to get a passionate response.

Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is a term that covers a wide variety of psychological treatment approaches in which focus is placed on the role of the patient’s thoughts in controlling and impacting behavior and choices.

Some advocates and patients assert that focusing on CBT merely perpetuates unproven myths that the patient’s pain is “all in the head” – i.e., purely a mental issue. Others assert that CBT has been proven to lessen symptoms of fibromyalgia and should be a central part of treatment.

A recent multi-site clinical trial, the results of which are being reported in Arthritis & Rheumatism, seems to back up the latter group. This study found that CBT lessened depression in teenagers with fibromyalgia and helped them cope with the disease’s symptoms more effectively. [Read more…]

Yoga Can Ease Fibromyalgia Pain

For people suffering from fibromyalgia and other chronic pain illnesses, yoga has now been proven both to help ease the pain and cope more efficiently with the pain. Participants report feeling muscles relax that have felt perpetually locked in spasm and a deep sense of relaxation that carries over in daily life from regular participation in restorative yoga.

The study, conducted by researchers from the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, looked at 53 women diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Twenty-five of these women participated in a “Yoga of Awareness” program once a week (including gentle stretching, mindfulness meditation, breathing techniques, and applying yoga principles to optimal coping); the remaining 28 participants did not take part in the yoga instruction program.

Participants in the study followed a specific routine that introduced them to yoga poses and practice in general, and specific yoga-based pain coping techniques. Classes consisted of a set series of sections or phases, including 40 minutes of gentle “stretch” poses (or asanas, as they’re called in yoga), followed by a 25-minute meditation and a 10-minute session where participants practiced pranayama, or yogic breathing techniques. The yoga classes were followed by lectures and presentations on how to use yoga principles to copy with physical pain and a group discussion geared around how participants could incorporate a home-based yoga practice in their lives.

Three months after the program began, the women who had been assigned to the yoga protocol reported reduced pain and fatigue. They also demonstrated more effective strategies for coping with the pain that they experienced, with less “catastrophizing, self-isolation, and disengagement.”

One of the best resources on the web for yoga is Yoga Journal’s website. You can learn more about this ancient mind-body practice and get instructions on simple asana sequences you can do at home. Another excellent resource is Kelly McGonigal’s Yoga for Pain Relief (available from Amazon).

Finding the Right Fibromyalgia Doctor

I recently ran across an interesting article on a blog published by the North Carolina disability law firm Hardison & Associates called “Fibromyalgia: Searching for the Right Doctor.”   This article raises several issues that I regularly face in my own disability practice – many physicians do not understand how to diagnose fibromyalgia and can damage your disability case by offhand comments in your medical record.

Some doctors incorrectly see fibromyalgia as a “garbage can” diagnosis, meaning that any pain symptoms that cannot otherwise be explained end up with the fibro label.  The problem with this approach is that Social Security judges are increasingly familiar with the American College of Rheumatology’s diagnostic classifications for the disease and judges will discount or ignore a physician diagnosis that does not refer to the American College diagnostic criteria.

Some doctors – thankfully fewer and fewer – do not accept that fibromyalgia exists at all.  Often the medical records from these doctors will contain suggestions that the patient has psychiatric problems, or worse, that the patient is a malingerer or drug seeker. [Read more…]

FDA Panel Rejects Xyrem as Fibromyalgia Treatment

WebMD reports that the United States Food and Drug Administration has rejected a drug called Xyrem as a treatment for fibromyalgia.  Although public comments (primarily from users testing the drug as part of the manufacturer’s trials) supported approval, and the FDA physicians acknowledge that the drug can reduce pain, the FDA advisory panel rejected the drug because of its similarity to GHB – the so-called “date rape” drug.

According to the FDA, Xyrem, or sodium oxybate, “is much better than the stuff you get on the street, and that is the problem.  Approving it for such a large patient population — 5 million people are estimated to suffer from fibromyalgia — would risk flooding the streets with a pharmaceutical-grade version of the highly controlled substance.

Xyrem is currently available for the treatment of narcolepsy.  It is a central nervous system depressant.

Can Tai Chi Ease the Symtoms of Fibromyalgia?

A recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine contains a study suggesting that Tai Chi may ease the pain and discomfort associated with fibromyalgia.    Tai Chi, the ancient practice of slow movement, breathing and meditation may reduce pain because of its focus on the mind-body connection.

The NEJM study looked at a small group of trial participants and focused on only one type of Tai Chi – researchers are planning larger scale trials and evaluations of different schools of Tai Chi.

Still, this study offers promising hope that this ancient and inexpensive therapy may improve the lives of thousands of fibromyalgia sufferers.

Natural Treatments for Fibromyalgia

Many of the topics we have discussed regarding fibromyalgia have covered alternative treatment options.  It is such a difficult disorder to diagnose – and often even more difficult to treat.  Because doctors and researchers do not know what causes fibromyalgia and have no full proof cure, many individuals find themselves having to try various options until they find one that works best, even if only for a limited period of time.  As with most medications, the drugs used to ease the pain of fibromyalgia may only be effective for a limited period of time before the dosage needs to be increased or different drugs need to be mixed.  Additionally, the pain can be so severe that people cannot wait for the drugs to take effect.  Sometimes this pain causes them to have to resign from work and file for Social Security Disability benefits because no amount of medication can help them to adequately complete their job tasks.  Recently, Natural News reported on alternative treatment options for fibromyalgia that may allow people to manage this disorder more effectively, and certainly more naturally.

One of the suggestions offered is to take different supplements to treat fibromyalgia, such as colloidal silver, digestive enzymes, and magnesium.  Each of these, according to the article, has been shown to have a positive effect on the treatment of the pain disorder.  Specifically, the author notes that in some medical circles, fibromyalgia has been linked to a deficiency of magnesium.  The next suggestion is to try to change the course of the chronic condition by changing your diet.  It is amazing how our diet can influence how our body responds to various diseases and health conditions.  The article first suggests increasing your intake of apples or apple juice, as they contain a particular type of naturally occurring acid that eases inflammation and pain.  Then, it is suggested to try to limit the consumption of whole grains, due to inflammation properties, and to increase the amount of essential fatty acids and omega-3s.  Finally, the article advises fibromyalgia sufferers to engage in two activities that we have previously discussed, acupuncture and exercise.

It is exciting to think of managing a naturally occurring medical disorder with natural treatments.  It is important, however, to discuss any alternative treatments with your doctor, especially if you are going to combine them with traditional therapies, such as drug management.  Additionally, make sure to fully educate yourself about any potential side effects and how these alternative treatments may impact your daily life.

Craniosacral Therapy for Treating Fibromyalgia

As with most chronic, painful conditions, many traditional treatment methods for fibromyalgia simply do not work.  It is much more likely that someone will find relief with an alternative treatment rather than a conventional one prescribed by a doctor.  The effects of fibromyalgia can be so debilitating and painful that people will seek any treatment that will improve their quality of life.  Sometimes such alternative measures are not well known and a lot of independent research must be done in order to unearth the one that works for you.

One such treatment for fibromyalgia is craniosacral therapy.  It is a gentle, hands-on therapy that is supposed to relieve tension and pain, while improving the immune system, improving the movement of fluid throughout the body, and generally, improving a person’s overall health.  The name of the therapy comes from the craniosacral system, which is made up of bones, membranes, and fluid that surround the brain and spinal cord.  The theory in focusing on this area is that tension and stress can cause the tissue and membranes to tighten, thereby affecting the central nervous system and all of the functions that it is responsible for controlling.  According to a Richmond, Indiana newspaper, The Palladium, a therapist can feel the rhythm of cerebrospinal fluid moving around the brain and spinal cord.  The therapist then feels for any restrictions in the flow and using various light touch techniques, releases them so that they can properly support the nervous system.  The technique is especially helpful for fibromyalgia patients because the touch is so light.  Many people living with fibromyalgia are apprehensive about touch because of the pain it may cause.

Most patients feel immediate relief after this treatment, and even though they may need additional treatments over a period of time, their relaxed state greatly improves their daily living.  Depending on the severity of the disorder, a person may have to undergo one or more treatments over several weeks before seeing an overall improvement in the fibromyalgia pain.  If you decide to pursue this alternative therapy, make sure to discuss the option with your doctor.  Although it is unlikely to interfere with any other treatments, it is important that all therapies are documented and risks are weighed.  Additionally, make sure that you find a therapist who is certified to perform craniosacral therapy and ask them about the success rate.  All in all this therapy is not invasive and even if it ultimately does not relieve all of the pain, at least you will have received a nice head massage.

Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia Treatment

The influence of alternative medicine in today’s health management practices cannot be ignored. Whether it is because a particular therapy has stopped working or because someone desires a more natural, less invasive treatment, Western medicine has had to adapt to the increasing use of alternative, supplemental remedies. One of the most prevalent of these practices has acupuncture for fibromyalgia treatmentbeen acupuncture. A Chinese treatment where small, thin needles are inserted into various parts of the body, acupuncture is thought to restore energy pathways that flow through the body. By placing the needles on different places on the body and along these pathways, a person’s health is restored and pain is more effectively managed. Now, even pediatric patients can reap the benefits of acupuncture at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. The idea is to help these young patients better manage pain associated with chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia and cancer.

Researchers have noted that effective pain management for children is scarce and there are very few options available. They also explain that over seventy percent of pediatric patients experience pain as a side effect of a chronic illness, and note that there is no adequate relief. The doctors at Rush wanted to find a treatment option that did not rely on the use of pain medications, due to the serious and debilitating side effects associated with their use. The National Institute of Health published a statement acknowledging acupuncture’s positive effect on the treatment of nausea following chemotherapy, migraines, and fibromyalgia. Often, the practice is only used in adults, with fantastic results.

Some pediatric studies have found that both the pediatric patients and their parents have commented on how relaxing and beneficial acupuncture was. Rush is offering the therapy to patients, between the aged of five and twenty, who are experiencing pain. They will receive eight acupuncture therapies, administered by a licensed practitioner. It is the hope of the Rush medical community that acupuncture will help patients from the onset of the disease, thereby positively affecting their quality of life. Although acupuncture will not cure the underlying disease, it may help patients to complete daily tasks with more ease. Many people with chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia are in so much pain that even the smallest task becomes monumental. In fact, many are unable to work because they cannot get through the work day due to the pain. Even if you are in this situation and must file for social security benefits due to your condition, you may still consider acupuncture therapy. Make certain that your treatments are documented and that you discuss the therapy with your treating physician first. Once you are given the okay, find a licensed acupuncturist and enjoy having your energy realigned and pain diminished.

Altering Your Breathing May Help Reduce Pain Associated With Fibromyalgia

When people are angry, become stressed, or get upset over circumstances in their lives, they are often told to “take a deep breath.” The thought behind deep breaththis is that taking in a slow, deep breath will allow them to refocus their energy and handle the situation more easily. Some new studies show that this same type of breathing technique may also work for people who suffer with chronic pain, such as fibromyalgia. Some researchers even believe that practicing breathing techniques on a regular basis can take the place of traditional drug regimes for certain individuals.

In the studies, scientists examined people who took half as many breaths as the average, healthy adult, which is approximately between twelve and eighteen breaths per minute. They found that individuals who cut those breaths in half were able to tolerate short-term pain from burns or cuts, as well as the chronic pain affecting muscles and joints. The research indicated that by reducing breaths to as few as six breaths a minute had a radical effect on pain experienced by individuals over the long term.

In the United States study, researchers evaluated a group of healthy, middle aged women and a group of women suffering from fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition, for which there is currently no cure. The research team exposed the women to various probes that generated heat against their hands at different temperatures. The scientists wanted to measure how much pain they could tolerate. The women were instructed to take fewer breaths while handling the probes. After taking half the amount of normal breaths, the women reported that the pain was less intense than when they breathed normally. The researchers found that the pain was rated about the same in both groups when fewer breaths were taken.

The theory behind why fewer breaths may ease pain stems from the idea that slow, measured breathing has a direct impact on the sympathetic nervous system. Fibers within the nervous system help to regulate blood flow and skin temperature. It appears that taking fewer breaths dampens the sympathetic nervous system, which in turn blocks pain. Other believe that taking shallow, slow breaths help to get the oxygen to the tissues in a more effective fashion, thereby helping the body react to pain. Breathing techniques have been around a very long time and in various cultural settings. Practicing breathing is cost-effective, easy, and can fit into your everyday schedule with relative ease. If you do suffer from pain associated with fibromyalgia, try to decrease the amount of breaths you take and truly concentrate on your breathing. It could just be that you find some of your pain minimized upon taking a deep breath.