Mind over Matter
“Freedom from pain should be a basic human right limited only by our ability to achieve it.”
Arthur Lipman, Pharm.D. (Speaker at the November 2001 American College of Rheumatology Symposium)
Chronic pain, regardless of the origin, affects a person’s whole being in one aspect or another. Learning what one can do to be emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually complete will result in an amazing outcome.
My Body is Matter and it Matters--Treatment
The pain of FM and CFID is thought to be central pain associated with a messaging problem in the central nervous system. The origin of pain in Chronic Myofascial Pain (CMP) is related to “trigger points” in the muscles.
Pain intolerance happens when you are bombarded by painful stimuli or impulses. As a result, your other body systems start to break down. Severe pain can become so extreme that it causes vomiting, or can cause total decompression, losing all defense mechanisms and touch with reality. Chronic pain can be life threatening when it reaches proportions of great magnitude.
Treatments for FM, CFID, and CMP may not totally eradicate the pain, but there are approaches that can help decrease the severity of their pain to a tolerable level.
Supplements, Herbs, and Vitamins
Buyer beware! There are many claims that supplements can cure FM and CFID. If this were the case, those two disorders would not be in this book. Experimenting with supplements can be a very costly venture; however, some people do report some benefits from their use. Therefore, as long as people claim a benefit from supplements, herbs, and vitamins, others will try them as well. We tend to listen to anyone reporting good news on treating chronic pain.
There are some dos and don’ts in trying over the-counter (OTC) herbs and supplements. Avoid combination remedies to enable your assessment of the exact ingredient. Be alert, these remedies are not regulated by the FDA and safe doses and interactions have not been studied sufficiently. They may have unwanted side affects or could be potentially dangerous to you.
Herbal remedy users are not as knowledgeable about these products as they should be. I would suggest speaking with your physician and pharmacist first. Quite honestly, I have found only one to be beneficial, and it has helped me with one of my coexisting conditions rather than the FM, CFID, or CMP. I have, however, heard testimony from some of my online-support friends to the contrary. Remember, we are all unique, have different reactions to different medications, and have different coexisting conditions.
Hints for safe use of supplements, herbs, and vitamins:
- Read labels for content, storage, guidelines, and dosage.
- Research and ask questions regarding purity and potency. Also, keep in mind that dosages commonly suggested have not necessarily been tested. Manufacturers are not required to meet FDA guidelines.
- As with any medication, if you develop hives or wheezing after taking any herbs or supplements, get immediate medical help.
- Don’t take unnecessary risks. If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, on chemotherapy, undergoing surgical procedures, have other underlying health issues, or take other medications, discuss your use of OTC medications, herbs, and supplements with everyone who needs to know. Make sure your pharmacist has a complete up to-date list of all your medications including any OTC preparations you use.
An excellent resource for checking doses, interactions, and safety for the use of herbs, vitamins, and other supplements is http://www.wholehealthmd.com.
Acceptance is one of the steps in the grieving process that can have a profound affect on the way we look at our illnesses. When we reach this level of coping with our losses, then we can move on. In a study done by Viane, et al., the researchers found evidence that “acceptance of pain is an independent predictor of mental well-being in patients with chronic pain.” The conclusions of their study showed that once chronic-pain patients accept their pain and the fact that it might not change, they can and do shift away from “pain to non-pain aspects of life.”
There are two important questions to ask regarding therapies; number one, “How you do them?” and number two, “Which one is right fit for you?” A valuable therapy is one that fits your personality and your individual needs. If it feels right, you are more likely to stick to it and thereby reap the benefits.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese therapeutic approach using strategically inserted needles to unblock healing energy. This energy circulates through the body in predetermined meridians. Acupuncture points are believed to stimulate release of chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals either change the perception of pain or release other chemicals that influence the body’s ability to create a system of checks and balances. There has been reported success in the use of acupuncture for the treatment of illness, chronic disorders, and pain.
True acupuncture using meridians may not benefit people with CMP; however, if the technique is used to treat trigger points specifically, acupuncture may be beneficial. The conduction of electromagnetic signals are relayed faster with acupuncture and are believed to initiate the flow of pain-killing body chemicals, endorphins. The signal calls for a faster response from the immune system when cells are damaged due to injury or disease.
Studies have shown that there are changes in brain chemistry and that sensation and involuntary body functions occur because of the release of neuro transmitters and neurohormones during acupuncture. It has the potential to affect immune reactions, blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature. It has been helpful in treating some patients with FM.
One study using a SPECT (single-photon emission computed tomography) scan detected changes in cerebral blood flow associated with pain. The scan also recorded that acupuncture analgesia is associated with changes in the activity of the frontal lobes, brain stem, and thalami. The results of studies like this are promising.