Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia are two different presentations of the same problem and can both be quite debilitating. They have similar symptoms that overlap. In fact, everyone who has Fibromyalgia also has CFS. However, not everyone who has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has Fibromyalgia. Dr. Spurlock refers to both of these illnesses as “modern-day energy crises.” There is not a single cause for CFS or Fibromyalgia; instead it’s a conglomeration of underlying problems that come together and create a “perfect storm,” including such things as:
- Widespread nutritional deficiencies
- Sleep deficiencies
- Overwhelmed/weakened immune system
- Hormonal imbalances
- Decreased exercise and sunshine
- Increased life stressors
- Unhealthy gut microbiome
If you have severe fatigue, insomnia, brain fog and have experienced these symptoms for at least 3 months and your doctor has not been able to find a specific cause, then you likely have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. If you also have widespread pain, then chances are that you have Fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue are both characterized by unexplained extreme fatigue, achiness, difficulty concentrating, and poor sleep. The main difference is that patients with FM have more severe pain, and those suffering with CFS find fatigue is their greatest symptom. Often times CFS and FM have very similar root causes. Both conditions occur when you expend more energy than you are capable of making.
Fibromyalgia and CFS are caused by hypothalamic suppression. Most of your body’s glands are controlled by the hypothalamus so when the hypothalamus becomes weakened, a cascade of negative effects can occur in your body. The hypothalamus controls the adrenals, thyroid, sex hormones, the autonomic nervous system and the sleep center. Fibromyalgia is the result when the hypothalamus has been weakened due to long-term stress, short-term extreme stress, chronically deficient diet, exposure to toxins, as well as a number of other factors.
Both syndromes are considered to be autoimmune in nature. Not only is the immune system compromised, but it begins to attack other areas of the body which creates inflammation and a host of other side effects and/or diseases.
Fibro and CFS can occur gradually from dysfunction caused by chronic stress, hormonal deficiencies, sleep deprivation, and a compromised immune system which opens up the body to an array of opportunistic infections. CFS and Fibro can also come on suddenly due to infection, injury, emotional/physical trauma, exposure to toxic chemicals, and even pregnancy.
Other contributors can include:
Sleep deprivation. 100 years ago, people in the U.S. averaged about 9 hours of sleep per night. Today, most people only sleep about 6 ½ hours. This affects every process in the body, because sleep promotes tissue repair. With poor tissue repair comes pain and breakdown of all systems. Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is also released during deep sleep which is critical for immune function, vitality, and weight regulation. Sleep apnea can be a serious problem because it causes periods of time when you stop breathing. It also interferes with the necessary sleep cycles responsible for repairing tissues and waking up well-rested.
Adrenal Insufficiency. The adrenal glands control how your mind and body deal with stress, both physical and mental. Things that cause stress on your body can include poor diet, nutritional deficiencies, recurrent infections, illness, trauma, lack of exercise, and not enough quality sleep. We are faced with numerous mental and emotional stressors daily. Illness, unhappy relationships, financial worries, and many more can contribute.
Low thyroid hormones and Hashimoto’s (auto-immune) Disease often accompany Fibromyalgia and CFS. The thyroid gland, also known as the body’s gas pedal, controls your metabolism. If too little hormone is present, the metabolism decreases, and causes fatigue, brain fog, weight gain, and more. Up to 75% of our Fibro and Fatigue patients have problems with thyroid regulation. This makes sense since the thyroid gland is also known as both the energy producing gland and the detox gland.
Imbalances in the sex hormones. This is also common in Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue sufferers. Testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone imbalances can all cause fatigue, hair loss, low libido, weight gain, worsening insomnia, and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Benefits of balanced hormones include: decreased pain, increased red blood cell levels, improved bone density, higher libido, better mood, increased muscle strength and muscle mass.
Candida/Yeast Infections. These are very common in people who have Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue. These infections can lead to spastic colons, irritable bowel disease, chronic sinusitis, and Leaky Gut Syndrome. Candida (yeast overgrowth) also increases food sensitivities and can result in an overactive immune system that causes other autoimmune conditions.
Severe gut infections and/or food sensitivities which are caused by antibiotics, Roundup (glyphosate), some GMO foods, excess sugar intake, and acid blockers. With up to 70% of the immune system being located in the gut microbiome, its state of health controls much of the body immune response. There have been studies that have shown that regulation of the gut-brain axis becomes affected in patients with Fibromyalgia. The gut microbiome was shown to be different from the control group versus the Fibro group and confirmed that the presence of Taurine, Creatine, and Succinic Acid were different, which are further indicators of pain and fatigue symptoms in Fibromyalgia patients.
Viral and bacterial infections. A few examples that commonly contribute to Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue include EBV (Epstein-Barr), CMV, and some of the Human Herpes Viruses. Viruses incorporate themselves into your DNA, and are ready to activate again when the immune system is weakened. Based on your initial lab results and symptoms, Dr. Spurlock will know which infections to test for, whether they be bacterial, viral or fungal, so that they can be treated appropriately.
Vitamin deficiencies. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition said that fewer than 5% of Americans receive the recommended daily allowance of vitamins from their food. Vitamin D deficiencies alone are at epidemic proportions across the U.S. Most Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue patients will have severe vitamin deficiencies or malabsorption problems, leaving their bodies depleted and not able to function normally.
Severe Mitochondria Dysfunction. People who have Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue experience hypothalamic suppression which causes severe changes in the hypothalamus. This results in significant fatigue, changes in brain neurotransmitters, increased pain sensitivity, severe brain fog, bad digestion, and decrease in heart function. The body is not able to eliminate toxins normally which creates sensitivities, allergies, and an overloaded immune system.
Lack of exercise. Experts now say that a sedentary lifestyle can be just as risky to health as smoking. It also affects sleep, the ability to cope with stress, the immune system, and hormonal balance. Insulin resistance and diabetes have reached epidemic proportions in the general population and cause a host of other medical issues, higher health risks, and early death.
Fibromyalgia is derived from the Greek “algia”, meaning pain, “myo”, referring to muscle, and the Latin “fibro” meaning the connective tissue of tendons and ligaments. Fibromyalgia is most definitely very real and can be a source of substantial disability.
In 1987 the AMA recognized FMS as a true illness and major cause of disability. The American College of Rheumatology, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health have all accepted FMS as a legitimate clinical entity.
Here are the main symptoms:
- Widespread pain. Soreness, tenderness, achiness and muscle pain that can last for days, which then finally dissipates and then returns again.
- Sleep problems. Not being able to get to sleep or waking up during the night and not being able to get back to sleep or otherwise restless, disturbed sleep and thus disrupting your ability to get the needed deep sleep that is so vital. This of course contributes to feeling tired and un-refreshed as well as disruption of the body’s healing processes and production of vital hormones.
- Fatigue/Exhaustion, which may or may not be connected to the poor sleep. In some cases even despite good sleep one can experience overwhelming tiredness.
- Difficulty with short-term memory or concentration, known as brain fog or fibro-fog.
- Depression, irritability, nervousness, anxiety
Other common signs and symptoms include:
- Blurred vision or changes in vision.
- Dry and painful eyes.
- Dry membranes in the nose and/or mouth.
- Painful menstrual periods.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating are often found in people with fibromyalgia.
- Recurrent infections – bladder, urinary tract, eye infections, etc.
- Dry, itchy skin or skin irritations or rash.
A “flare” is a term that refers to the various symptoms of Fibromyalgia flaring up for a matter of hours or more often for two or three days. A flare usually follows a period of stress, either emotionally or physically, or some other factor that can trigger a flare up. Some examples of triggers could be:
- a night or several nights of very poor sleep
- over-exertion in some physical activity
- working for extended hours
- an increase in caffeine, sugar or alcohol intake
- a long drive or flight
- a long period of time on your feet wearing new or uncomfortable shoes
- a known or unknown infection
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME:
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME is a set of symptoms with severe and unrelenting fatigue being most predominant. The fatigue can worsen with physical activity or stress, but it doesn’t improve with more rest.
Some of the more common symptoms are: poor sleep, difficulties with short-term memory or concentration, exhaustion after minimal exertion, recurrent infections and bowel disorders.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has nine official signs and symptoms:
- Decrease in memory or concentration faculties
- Sore throat
- Enlarged lymph nodes in neck and/or armpits
- Unexplained muscle pain
- Pain that may move from one joint to another without swelling or redness
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exertion
These are by no means all of the symptoms and there is far more information on each. This is only to serve as a short overview of some of the more common ones.
There are many symptoms that overlap that can be caused by different things and it can be difficult to tell what is causing what, or where one disease or syndrome ends and another one begins.
There is Hope!
Although Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue symptoms may be severe and the amount of confusion may be overwhelming, don’t despair! Renewed Vitality health care providers are experienced at investigating and tearing apart the symptoms and clues through advanced, thorough and well researched methods. Restoring patients patients with these conditions back to health and vigor is a commonplace occurrence at Renewed Vitality. For more information on how we treat CFS and Fibromyalgia at Renewed Vitality, click here. Let us help you get your life back!
Here are two lectures given by Dr. Spurlock on the subjects of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia including with the lab testing that’s used to diagnose the root causes:
Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Treatment at Renewed Vitality
Both Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue are complex syndromes that aren’t handled by simply taking some prescription meds. While advertisements for Lyrica and other similar medications make it seem like this is a viable treatment, you must realize that these drugs simply attempt to relieve some symptoms. What they don’t do is address or handle any of the underlying causes for these complex conditions. Our approach is to do the work to actually heal your body by addressing the root causes. We do this by taking a Functional Medicine approach to your illness which involves spending more time with our patients, treating everyone as an individual, and tailoring treatment to your exact needs instead of treating based on only your lab results.
Our staff and doctors can answer any questions you may have about these conditions and assist you in finding the right treatments to restore you to the healthy, active person you want to be. For more information regarding our services, or to schedule an appointment, call (214) 740-4703 to speak to our new patient coordinator, or fill out the form below and we will contact you!