Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are both complicated disorders with similar symptoms that can be debilitating and life-changing. Oftentimes, people who are afflicted with these disorders have seen countless doctors looking for relief, only to be prescribed opioids and benzos which only mask the symptoms and can cause some of their own problems. There have been studies which show that these types of drugs are not very effective in treating Fibro or CFS, nor do they address the underlying causes. In order to successfully treat either disorder and provide relief for the patient, it’s important to address the cause of the symptoms in addition to any immediate symptom relief.
Symptoms can have a sudden onset, usually after experiencing a sudden, traumatic event such as acute illness, surgery, an auto accident, or something stressful such as a death in the family. However, they can also manifest over a period of time with no obvious trigger. Either way, there are several factors that come together causing a “perfect storm” of illness and causing you to feel like your body is crashing.
There isn’t one, single test that can be done to see if someone has Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Diagnosis is usually a conclusion that traditional medicine doctors come to after listening to symptoms. Their treatment protocols are to try to manage symptoms of the illness, but not wellness. This does not work. At Renewed Vitality, we look for the why and the how and address the underlying causes. First, let’s take a look at some of the symptoms:
- Widespread musculoskeletal pain
- Sleep problems
- Memory problems
- Restless leg syndrome
- Dry, painful eyes
- Dry mouth/increased thirst
- Dry skin and/or rashes
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Recurring urinary tract infections
- Frequent viral and bacterial infections
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Increased work absences
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Severe and ongoing fatigue
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Long recovery periods needed after increased physical/mental activities
- Sore throat
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Loss of concentration/memory
- Unexplained joint and/or muscle pain
- Frequent infections
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Increased work absences
Both syndromes can have similar symptoms however with Fibromyalgia, pain is usually the chief complaint and with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, it’s fatigue. Both disorders have underlying causes that include:
- Suppression of the hypothalamus/hormonal imbalances. Because this controls other glandular functions such as thyroid, pituitary, and adrenals, there are often imbalances found within these as well.
- Mitochondria dysfunction. Mitochondria (often called powerhouses) are located in the cells; they are responsible for energy production. When the immune system is weakened, the mitochondria lose their strength too and can appear poisoned.
- Suppressed immune system.
- Underlying viral and/or bacterial infections
Fibro and CFS are triggered by suppression of the hypothalamic gland. This gland controls most other glands in the body including adrenals, thyroid, and sex hormones. The hypothalamus also controls the autonomic nervous system and sleep. Our treatment protocol includes testing of the hypothalamus function and for imbalances in other hormones such as hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue to name a few.
We also look for agents that are causing damage to the mitochondria and work to rid the body of them. Also, we use specific nutrients which will help get them functioning like they should again. Mitochondria dysfunction may be the chief mechanism for symptoms of fibro.
The Immune System
Illness occurs when the immune system becomes weakened; it’s main role is to protect the body against threats from viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc. Many things can contribute to compromised immunity including poor diet, not getting enough sleep, and stressors of all kinds. Science shows that at least 75% of our immune system resides in the gut microbiome and that our overall health is directly related to the food that we eat.
The Standard American Diet is full of sugars, simple carbohydrates, and processed foods. All of these things contribute to poor gut health, but they also cause a cascade effect. Hormones get out of balance. Our bodies become unable to absorb nutrients. Digestive issues occur in response to the nutrient poor foods that we are eating so we take medications to help manage these, which in turn have side effects which also contribute to a sick gut microbiome. Over time, this powerhouse that rules the body becomes poisoned and doesn’t function the way it should causing us to be vulnerable to all types of illnesses, both acute and chronic.
In addition to diet, other things affect the immune system too. Americans are busy people and are on the go much of the time. Long work hours combined with other time-consuming activities that go along with raising a family, caring for aging parents, etc., leave us stressed out and tired. Regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and making time to have fun and relax get put on the back burner, all of which contribute to the detriment of health.
Underlying Viral and Bacterial Infections
Everyone has underlying viruses and bacteria that reside in their bodies. From the time we are infants, we are exposed to things like measles, chicken pox, mononucleosis (Epstein Barr), flu, and an array of other illnesses.
Chicken Pox is an example of a virus that once contracted, remains in the body in a dormant or latent state. It can resurface at a later time in the form of shingles. Other viruses, along with bacterial infections, can resurface as well.
Research has shown that there are specific viruses and bacteria that can cause symptoms associated with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. It’s also common for more than one to be active such as:
- Human Herpes Virus 3 (HHV3) aka Epstein Barr Virus (EPV) aka Mononucleosis
- Human Herpes Virus 6 (HHV6)
- Coxsackle Virus (Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease)
- Parvo Virus (human version)
- Human T-Cell Tropic Virus (HTLV)
- Chlamydia Pneumonia (bacterial)
- Mycoplasma Pneumoniae (bacterial)
- Borrelia Burgdorferi (Lyme disease)
- Candida (yeast)
When the weakened immune system is afflicted with these types of infections, they further suppress the body’s defenses and result in more infections with other organisms. These are referred to as “opportunistic infections” and can be almost impossible to destroy unless the immune system is restored.
There are other risk factors for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Women are more likely to be afflicted by them than men. You can be genetically predisposed as well if you have a familial history. Studies have also shown that people who have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus are also more likely to have Fibromyalgia. Chronic stress is also a trigger.
At Renewed Vitality, we use a six-step approach to treat both syndromes:
- Address pain and sleep disturbances
- Rejuvenate the mitochondria and increase energy production
- Balance hormones
- Treat the immunity factor
- Explore unique causes
Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue are life-long illnesses, but with proper diagnosis and treatment of the root causes, remission and relief of symptoms are possible! Our patients begin to feel better in just a few weeks and most are able to resume a normal lifestyle after just four visits!
Dr. Spurlock has over 17 years of experience treating patients with Fibromyalgia, CFS, and Chronic Viral Syndrome. He and his team of nurse practitioners at Renewed Vitality have been successful in diagnosing and treating our patients, many of whom had lost hope before coming to see us.
You can read more about our treatment protocols HERE.