Dr. Chris Heimlich DC, Founder of the Arizona Fibromyalgia Institute Comments:
I commonly get asked this question as I am in consultation with a fibromyalgia sufferer. Of course this is usually only asked by the newly diagnosed or those who exhibit mild signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia. Anyone who has suffered with this dreaded condition for any significant period of time will tell you it has gotten progressively worse over the years.
So you can guess my answer to “will it just go away with time?” is NO. In the April 2007 edition of the Journal of Neuroscience the McGill University Center For Research on Pain found, “The longer the individual has had fibromyalgia, the greater the grey matter loss, with each year of fibromyalgia being equivalent to 9.5 times the loss of normal aging.” In addition it is estimated that 30-60% of patients diagnosed with Fibromyalgia become disabled to the degree they cannot remain gainfully employed….and that is with the myriad of medications prescribed.
This is why Functional Neurology seems like a match made in heaven for people suffering with fibromyalgia. We now know that your brain can change shape and function given the right inputs. Functional Neurological Treatment can restore the dysfunctional brain areas that are causing the widespread pain and symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, without drugs or surgery. Brain Based Therapy is truly a revolutionary approach to this disorder. So whether you are in the beginning stages of fibromyalgia or this has been disrupting your life for years you need to address the cause of your problem….brain and brainstem dysfunction.
Dr. Chris Heimlich DC, Phoenix Metro Area Fibromyalgia Doctor Comments:
One of the biggest mistakes I see with patients that are not getting good results from their Fibromyalgia Treatment is thinking that they have had all the correct tests to figure out what is causing the Fibromyalgia Symptoms.
Well, usually many of you woman have seemingly had every test done under the sun. Most of the women I consult with who are suffering with Fibromyalgia have had MRI’s, CT scans, NCV’s, EKG’s, basic blood work, psyche evaluations, colonoscopies……. Now all of these tests do have their merit. They can rule out some very ugly pathology. Here is what I have found. After spending two days at the big diagnostic clinics, they come out with the same thing they had before: a report that says that the labs are “normal” and a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.
The truth is zero functional testing has been done.
Research shows that Fibromyalgia has a huge Neurological component. It makes sense that if you have a neurological problem, then you need to get a functional neurological examination to get to the bottom of what is causing your fibromyalgia.
A functional neurological examination doesn’t just look for pathology of the brain and nervous system, but also for different subtle clues and findings to let the doctor know how the different parts of the brain are communicating with each other. If the different parts of the brain are not communicating with each other, then the brain, and body, will not work correctly. When this happens, it is called a Function Disconnect, or Functional Disconnection Syndrome.
Many things can contribute to the neurological problems of sufferers of Fibromyalgia. These factors are gastrointestinal dysfunction, hormone imbalances, immune dysfunction, intestinal dysbiosis and candida among other things. Success with fibromyalgia treatment depends on stepping back and looking at all the pieces of a patient’s health puzzle.
Don’t stop looking for the answers. You need to find a doctor that will do functional testing and look at the functional ranges of lab results and someone that will put all the pieces of your health puzzle together.
Dr. Chris Heimlich DC, Fibromyalgia Doctor in the Phoenix Metro Area Comments:
Sleeping more and having less depression may seem like good goals for a health practitioner to have when they are treating a patient with Fibromyalgia.
What about all the other symptoms you are suffering from?
What about the side effects of the medications used to try to accomplish these goals?
What is the long term plan in the Treatment of Fibromyalgia sufferers with these goals?
The treatment protocol for Fibromyalgia by the medical community is to prescribe anit-depressants and sleeping pills. This can help the patient get through the day. Anything that is going to make things more bearable in the short term is often necessary. Certainly though, just getting through the day CAN’T be the long term goal.
Due to their training, most doctors have these goals because they do not believe there is a treatment for Fibromyalgia that will get the patient out of pain. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
It is possible to reduce and many times eliminate the pain completely, as well as the other symptoms the patient is suffering from.
Unfortunately most patients have been “beaten down” and told there is nothing that can be done to get rid of their Fibromyalgia symptoms. They are told that they have to live with it and manage it for the rest of their life. This can lead to more depression and a feeling that there is no hope. But there is hope. If the underlying causes are addressed properly, then the patient can heal and no longer have the group of symptoms tagged Fibromyalgia.
So how do you find these underlying causes and complicating factors?
You have to go to a dotor that will look at you as a whole. Health care practitioners that understand that the body has the power to heal itself, given the right environment and stimulation, will be able to put your health puzzle pieces together and come up with a Natural Treatment Protocol and goals that will help you to get your life back. Your goals, and you doctors, should be to find and address the cause of you Fibromyalgia, not just cover up some symptoms.
Dr. Chris Heimlich DC of the Arizona Fibromyalgia Institute in Scottsdale, Arizona comments on Brain Atrophy and Fibromyalgia:
Have You Heard of The Shrinkage Factor?
Don’t take this the wrong way, but is your brain shrinking?
Maybe a better question might be “are you ready for your brain to start shrinking” because in the elderly, the brain shows progressive atrophy. The atrophy occurs even in healthy cognitive adults.
The greater the levels of cognitive decline however, the greater the atrophy as seen on MRIs. In a study, researchers found an interesting variable, plasma level of homocysteine. Raised homocysteine is associated with both regional and whole brain atrophy, not only in Alzheimer’s disease but also in healthy adults.
168 participants 70 years and older were placed in 2 groups. The treatment group had 85 participants supplemented with the homocysteine lowering B vitamins: folic acid, B12 and B6. 83 remaining participants in the control group received a placebo. Both groups were given MRIs before and after the two year study.
The mean rate of brain atrophy after 2 years was 1.08 % for the control group and .76% for the treatment group. Ouch, I don’t like the thought of my brain atrophying even .76% in a 2 year period.
The treatment response was related to baseline homocysteine levels. In the treatment group if levels were greater than 13, the results were more dramatic. The rate of atrophy was 53% lower. The greatest rate of atrophy was associated with a lower final cognitive test score.
In other words the more your brain atrophies, the lower your ability to think, to remember and problem solve.
In the past, elevated levels of homocysteine in the blood have been associated with atherosclerosis, an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clot formation and Alzheimer’s disease.
Elevated levels of homocysteine have also been linked to increased fractures in elderly persons. It appears that reducing homocysteine levels does not affect bone density. In a trial, subjects with prior stroke and elevated homocysteine levels were given folate and B12. There was an 80% reduction in fractures, mainly hip, after 2 years.
Interestingly, bone density (and the number of falls) was identical in the vitamin and the placebo groups. So homocysteine is a marker.
No clear data indicates that reducing homocysteine will reverse these conditions. But the results of this study show by using these low dose B vitamins you can slow down brain atrophy especially in the cases where elevated homocysteine is present.
Let’s consider several key points of the study. First, the study took place over 2 years. Nutrients are needed on an ongoing basis to reduce the factors that cause the brain to be inflamed. Next; when plasma levels of homocysteine were greater than 13, treatment results were more dramatic.
Elevated homocysteine is a marker for a malfunctioning metabolism that is depleted of folic acid, B12, B6 and perhaps methyl donors like betaine.
Remember we need B12 and folic acid for our genes to work properly. I think of homocysteine as the canary that dies in the coal mine, warning the miners that gases are present. Why should we wait till it hits 13 before we start supplementing?
Testing should be done on a regular basis to monitor progress and patient compliance.
Considering the many benefits of folate, B12 and B6, higher doses and optimized forms can be utilized safely. Let me mention that elevated levels of homocysteine are not only produced from inflammation, but the oxidative stress generated from elevated homocysteine levels will again promote inflammation.
As it relates to brain atrophy, wouldn’t it make sense to try to keep inflammation at a minimum?” The only way to know if you need this or any supplementation is to get tested by a doctor that understands what we just talked about. No matter how old or young you are, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Dr. Chris Heimlich DC, Founder of the Arizona Fibromyalgia Institute Comments:
One of the questions I seem to always get asked is “What caused my Fibromyalgia”. Honestly, it is no single cause for Fibromyalgia. Although we know through research that it is a neurological problem, there are many factors that contribute to it. For most doctors it is a diagnosis given when they feel they have run out of options. It is really it is a syndrome, or a name that describes a group of symptoms. Now before I go any further I don’t mean to imply the pain, fatigue, insomnia, or other symptoms are not real, not at all.
My position on this has always been… “there is something definitely wrong, and if we look hard enough, at the right things, we can create a phenomenal outcome for fibromyalgia patients.” I want to share a story of one of our patients that flew in to see us. Her daughter, who was suffering with Fibromyalgia as well, had told her she needed to come see us.
She was looking for real answers, not just more pills. I don’t mean to demean or put down any patient who must take medications to create some resemblance of normalcy, but they DO create long term side effects, and they NEVER address the source of the problem. Anything that is going to make things more bearable in the short term, are often necessary. You have to get through the day. Certainly though, just getting through the day can’t be the long term goal.
So let me tell you about a particular patient I have had the pleasure of beginning to work with. At the onset, after reviewing a lengthy case history, we decided that there was very likely a number of metabolic underpinnings that lied at the root of her pain and other symptoms. So we agreed to run some laboratory tests that would give us great information about her condition in addition to our findings on her neurological evaluation.
So what did we find? Well we had several significant findings on her blood test, stool test, and exam. Now I don’t arbitrarily order these tests. In this case the history necessitated that THESE tests be ordered. There were definitely many things that were wrong with her body, that were specific, and that led us to very specific action steps to change her life in a profound way.
After reviewing the results, she actually was a little angry, not at me, but angry at the medical system that had pushed pills and band-aids on her, and never really worked hard for her. When you deal with something for 30 years, and never really get the answer you are looking for, you can become a bit jaded.
We were fortunate enough to be able to help her get her life back. What she called a “normal life”. I am happy to say that we were also able to help her daughter rid herself of Fibromyalgia as well. Although have not seen her in over 2 years, she still sends me emails during the holidays (as well as a few funny ones in between) to let me know she is doing great.