Most patients who we see have already been to many doctors looking for Fibromyalgia pain relief. It’s frustrating and exhausting trying to find a physician who understands how Fibromyalgia affects the body and mind and who is willing to look for underlying causes versus just treating symptoms. Fibromyalgia is a complex syndrome and prescribing Lyrica or other pain medications is not going to fix anything, other than perhaps providing temporary relief.
Dr. Spurlock has been successfully treating patients with Fibromyalgia and other chronic-type illnesses for years. One of the reasons he has such a high degree of success is that he looks for both the root cause of the symptoms and addresses the functionality of the immune and endocrine systems.
Pain-Relieving Drugs and Why They Can Do More Harm Than Good
Just about all pain-relieving medications have significant side effects whether they are over-the-counter or prescribed by a doctor, especially when taken long-term.
Opioids are narcotic pain medications that require a prescription from a doctor. Not only do they have potentially deadly side effects, but they are also highly addictive. They include drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl, and Vicodin, just to name a few. Additionally, opioids do not interact well with many other types of medications, such as sleep meds, muscle relaxers, anxiety/depression medications, antihistamines, and more.
For the Fibromyalgia sufferer, consequences of opioid use can even heighten pain over time, rather than relieve it. Most people with this syndrome already have a physiological condition called “Hyperalgesia,” which is an enhanced sensitivity to pain. This increased sensitivity will show up on an MRI scan; the parts of the brain that process pain will “light up” brighter compared to someone who doesn’t have Fibromyalgia.
Some research shows that the use of opioid medications disrupts the endocrine system, and for the patient with Fibromyalgia, this can lead to more problems. This particular research study reviewed the effects of opioid use on the hypothalamus and pituitary glands which are both “Master Hormone Regulators” and affect thyroid function, human growth Hormone regulation, estrogen, cortisol, and testosterone. Early indications from this study are cause for concern for the Fibromyalgia patient because of the probability of increasing pain symptoms.
Additionally, opioid addiction has reached epic proportions and has been deemed a national health crisis. While opioids have their place, they are not the answer for long-term Fibromyalgia pain-relief, and we do not prescribe them at Renewed Vitality.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is an over-the-counter pain medication. It is considered an analgesic and controls pain levels through the central nervous system. While not a narcotic, taking too much can cause serious side effects, including overdose. The American Liver Foundation indicates that acetaminophen overdose is the main cause of acute liver failure. One of the main reasons that overdose is can be likely is that acetaminophen is also an ingredient in many other medications and a person might not realize how much they are actually taking. Because Acetaminophen is not a narcotic and mental status is not impaired, it may be difficult to “feel” the side effects until irreversible damage is done.
The FDA says that if more than 4000 mg is ingested in a day, that you should go to the emergency room as soon as possible. Chronic acetaminophen use is quite dangerous for both liver and kidney function. There has also been research that shows that using the recommended amount of this drug and combining it with alcohol can increase the risk of kidney disease by over 100%!
Using acetaminophen for long-term Fibromyalgia pain relief is dangerous because toxicity can occur by using it both acutely and chronically. Side effects can include swelling of the face and mouth, difficulty breathing, fever, hives, rash, and fever. More serious indicators of overdose include mental confusion, upper-right abdominal pain (liver), jaundice, and irregular heartbeat.
NSAIDS (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs)
Advil, Aleve, Motrin, Celebrex, and Naproxen are common brands in this category. They are the most commonly used pain-relieving drugs in the United States because they have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving qualities. Aspirin falls into this category however, it doesn’t have the dangerous side effects that the drugs do. In fact, low-dose aspirin is also given to some patients with cardiovascular disease as both an anti-inflammatory and a blood-thinner.
Most people are familiar with the short-term side effects of NSAIDs such as stomach upset. However, many folks don’t realize that chronic use can have more serious side effects such as high blood pressure. Kidney function is by high blood pressure and can cause them to have to do more work and can lead to organ damage and fluid build-up.
Several studies have been done which prove the connection between the use of NSAIDs and heart attack and stroke. In 2015, the FDA issued an additional cautionary warning about this risk. It applies to people both with and without cardiovascular disease.
Lyrica is the only FDA-approved drug for Fibromyalgia specific pain relief. It is also an anticonvulsant and used for treating seizures. There has been research completed on the effectiveness of Lyrica for Fibromyalgia pain-relief and the results have been consistently mixed. They help with some patients’ symptoms but don’t help others at all.
The most common side effects of Lyrica are weight gain, constipation, swelling, insomnia, headache, dizziness, and nausea. It seems counter-productive to take a medication for Fibro with these side effects especially because sleep is already such a problem for most sufferers.
More serious side effects can include:
- Increased anxiety
- Memory loss (a problem that those with Fibro may already experience)
- Chest pain and/or difficulty breathing
- Muscle pain (another symptom of Fibromyalgia)
- Thoughts of suicide
While there are other drugs used for Fibromyalgia pain relief, these are the most common. While they may help some people, their side effects far outweigh the benefits, and in the long run, are only a band-aid for Fibromyalgia syndrome.
Hormones and How They Relate to Fibromyalgia
Hormone regulation and balance are key for the Fibromyalgia patient’s recovery process. The hypothalamus, a gland in the brain, controls the autonomic nervous system (breathing and heart rate), sleep regulation, body temperature, and the entire endocrine system.
Dysfunction of the hypothalamus gland occurs in people with Fibromyalgia. The pituitary gland — also referred to as the “master gland” — is attached to the hypothalamus and directly regulates hormones in the body, such as the thyroid, adrenals, and sex hormones.
Because of hypothalamus dysfunction, a resulting cascade of hormone imbalances can occur. The hypothalamus helps with thyroid regulation. What makes this situation even more complex is that the thyroid also helps to support the hypothalamus. Additionally, a thyroid gland that is under-functioning both increases the severity of Fibromyalgia symptoms and increases the risk of developing it.
Hypothyroidism and Fibromyalgia share some of the same symptoms. If we don’t correct the thyroid balance, it will continue to be one of the underlying causes/contributors to Fibromyalgia.
The cells in the body need thyroid hormone for energy. The part of the cell responsible for energy production is called the mitochondria. Lots of things can degrade the mitochondria, including low-functioning thyroid, Fibromyalgia, and a compromised or weakened immune system. When these affect the mitochondria, it compromises the entire immune system, which can lead to increased vulnerability to infections and toxins. Additionally, other hormonal imbalances follow.
Thorough testing and treatment of the thyroid
At Renewed Vitality, our treatment for Fibromyalgia always includes a comprehensive thyroid panel of tests. Most physicians only test the TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) level. Ours is all-inclusive and looks at the function of every aspect of the thyroid. Dr. Spurlock is up-to-date and years ahead of other physicians in properly diagnosing and treating thyroid disease.
A low-functioning thyroid can mimic some of the symptoms of Fibromyalgia such as muscle pain, joint pain, fatigue, and more. Getting your thyroid functioning properly will help tremendously with Fibromyalgia pain relief.
Estrogen helps to regulate serotonin levels. One role of serotonin is that it affects our sensitivity to pain. Additionally, estrogen plays a role in keeping adequate amounts of synovial fluid in the joints. This not only helps to prevent arthritis, but keeps the joints lubricated, and thus less painful.
Progesterone is a key player for patients with Fibro because it does several things. First, Progesterone (often referred to as the “calming” hormone) is important for sleep quality. One of the major symptoms of women who have low progesterone is their inability to get good sleep. Sleep problems are also a big symptom for those with Fibromyalgia, so ensuring that this hormone stays in balance is important. Second, it also has a neuroprotective role in the body, which helps the body guard against pain severity.
Testosterone levels in both men and women gradually wane in the late twenties and continue to do so as people age. This is the hormone that gives us the “pep in our step.” It’s also responsible for collagen production which maintains healthy joints and cartilage, which gives it a “protective” role against pain with Fibromyalgia and other diseases like Osteoarthritis.
Additionally, lower levels of these hormones can cause increased musculoskeletal pain. Some research has shown that those with Fibromyalgia may require slightly higher levels of sex hormones to aid with pain relief.
The adrenal glands produce cortisol, responsible for the “fight or flight” response to stress. Stress isn’t just emotional or mental; it’s also physical and can result from poor diet, not getting enough sleep, disease, etc. Chronic stress can cause the adrenal glands to produce too much cortisol. Then, over time, the adrenal glands can become taxed and aren’t able to produce enough cortisol. This is called “adrenal fatigue.”
Adrenal fatigue symptoms contribute to physical and mental feelings of fatigue, heightened pain responses, weakened immune systems, and more. Additionally, since the adrenals also produce small amounts of estrogen and testosterone, if they’re not functioning optimally, this can further reduce these other hormones.
Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) for Fibromyalgia Pain Relief
Doctors have used Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) for years to treat patients with opioid addiction. It’s also used to treat patients with chronic pain associated with cancer, Crohn’s Disease, and MS.
When used in higher doses as an opioid “antagonist,” scientists realized that while LDN was effective in treating opioid addiction, it had no chronic pain-relief benefits. However, it was through these studies that they discovered that it does help with chronic pain at very low doses. The amount given for pain control is 1/10th of the amount prescribed for opioid addiction. We offer this treatment to our patients at Renewed Vitality.
A small study completed in 2009 showed that 60% of women felt more significant pain relief from LDN than those taking a placebo. A second and larger study was later done, which showed the exact same results as the first study.
Free Yourself from Fibromyalgia – The Big Picture
Fibromyalgia is a complex syndrome that can debilitate a person’s quality of life and health. In order to treat this disorder successfully, a multi-faceted approach is required to both address the underlying causes and build the immune system back up.
At Renewed Vitality, Dr. Spurlock has developed a methodical approach that is customized to each individual’s specific issues, which includes:
- Address pain and sleep disturbances
- Rejuvenate the mitochondria and increase energy production
- Balance hormones
- Treat the immunity factor
- Explore unique causes
For more information on this six-step treatment protocol, click here.
Dr. Spurlock has over 35 years of experience working with patients who have Fibromyalgia and has helped many patients free themselves from the grip of this debilitating syndrome. Our practice is located in Dallas, Texas, though we have patients who come from all over the United States to find relief from Fibromyalgia. Once treatment begins, our patients usually start to feel better within just a month or two.
Free Phone Consultation with our New Patient Coordinator
Renewed Vitality is a place of hope. Our knowledgeable providers are experts in their field and take the time to find the underlying causes of hormonal imbalances and illness. We will work with you using proven, scientific-based technology in a warm and compassionate environment to help you restore your health so that you can live a life of vitality and wellness.
Please contact our New Patient Coordinator for your Free Phone Consultation. She can answer any questions or concerns that you may have and give you additional information about our providers, our protocols and fees, what insurance covers and what it doesn’t, and any other details you may need. She can also get you booked for your first appointments if you decide we are a good fit for you. There are no obligations to book an appointment.
Please call 214-740-4703 to learn more, or complete the form below, and we will contact you. We would love to hear from you!