Treating Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue and Chronic Pain with Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)

LDN pain relief

You may have heard of naltrexone as a medication to help people recover from drug dependence. It blocks receptors in the brain for the most addictive drugs, known as opioids. Naltrexone helps to reduce cravings and lowers the risk of relapse, without a negative impact on mood. Naltrexone is safe to use because it is not habit forming.

So what does this drug have to do with fatigue or fibromyalgia relief?

Very low doses of naltrexone have been found to be very helpful to people who are struggling to cope with chronic pain and fatigue, and fibromyalgia.

Low dose naltrexone, or LDN, enables many to find pain relief for symptoms without unwanted side effects. It requires a physician’s prescription. Typically it comes in tablet form that patients usually take at bedtime.

How LDN Works

LDN has been found to impact the production of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good hormones. Doctors believe that this medication blocks the brain’s receptors for endorphins, and this stimulates the body to compensate and make more of them.

Endorphins are one of the body’s natural and most powerful anti-depressants and pain relievers. The brain and other parts of the nervous system naturally produce endorphins. Endorphins may boost the immune system, and are known to trigger positive moods and reduce the perception of pain.

Some medical professionals believe that fibromyalgia symptoms are linked to problems with the body’s stress response system controlled by the HPA axis. This part of the brain regulates the body’s response to stress and sensation of pain. The HPA axis is the complex interaction between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and the adrenal glands.

The HPA axis also produces endorphins. When this area is not functioning properly, many medical professionals believe it throws the body’s hormone chemistry out of balance, and impairs the body’s pain regulation systems.

There is some controversy about how much the HPA axis and endorphins impact fibromyalgia pain. But evidence has made it clear that LDN helps many people who suffer fibromyalgia pain to find lasting relief.

Results of Treatments with LDN

In my practice, I see patients make remarkable improvement with LDN. Instead of having to rely on strong painkillers with undesirable side effects, patients find that low doses of naltrexone allow them to reduce or eliminate their use of other drugs. While a small amount of pain may still exist, it is mild when compared to the excruciating levels that people with fibromyalgia can suffer without effective treatment.

LDN allows many patients to sleep better, manage lower levels of pain much more easily, and feel more positive about life.

LDN therapy for fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue is not a simple cure. It is part of a treatment plan that you and your doctor create together. Treatment plans vary for each individual, and may include other changes that keep your symptoms in check.

At the Optimal Wellness Center, we find the best results combine therapies including acupuncture, hormone balancing treatments, and healthy life habits such as getting enough sleep, exercise, and choosing nutritious foods and supplements wisely.

If you are in the Ridgewood, New Jersey area , and want to see if LDN could work for you, speak to Dr. Keller at 201-485-7930 or request an appointment online.

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Could A Leaky Gut Be The Cause Of Your Symptoms?

Could A Leaky Gut Be The Cause Of Your Symptoms?

Do you suffer from? Fatigue? IBS? Rashes? Or Joint Pain?

A “Leaky Gut” can cause of a wide variety of symptoms and diseases.
Including the following:

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Fibromyalgia
Food Sensitivities
Diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating or IBS
Rashes, hives, eczema, psoriasis or acne
Allergies, asthma
Joint pains, arthritis
Autoimmune disease, Celiac, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Chron’s disease

Leaky gut syndrome happens when the lining of your intestines are damaged by inflammation. Foods including gluten, highly processed foods, medications, stress, intestinal infections and an imbalance of your intestinal bacterial flora are some of the potential causes of a leaky gut.

When the intestinal lining is damaged, inflammation develops resulting in small holes in the intestinal lining causing increased intestinal permeability. The problem comes from small food particles, and toxins that can now “leak” into your blood stream through these holes. Once these substances enter your body they can trigger an inflammatory immune response, resulting in a wide variety of symptoms and diseases.

How to treat a leaky gut? As long as the intestinal lining is damaged food and toxins will continue to enter your blood stream and continue the inflammatory process.
The way to stop this vicious cycle is to heal your intestinal lining.

At Optimal Wellness we use the 5R Restoration Program

Remove offending substances from the diet, while adding targeted nutritional support to help remove unwanted compounds from the body.

Replace digestive enzymes if needed. Digestive factors and enzymes facilitate the breakdown of food. An insuffiency of these enzymes prevents optimal digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Reinoculate the GI tract with a good probiotic (good bacteria) to rebalance your intestinal flora. This balance is import to your overall health including supporting your immune system, GI health, digestion and intestinal barrier function.

Regenerate the GI mucosa through diet and lifestyle changes, enhanced by nutritional support. If needed we may recommend medical food to help repair and maintain intestinal integrity
Retain the health of your GI tract with nutritional support along with healthy eating, adequate sleep, regular exercise, and stress management.

Acupuncture Reduces Symptoms Of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia Treatment: Acupuncture is Effective in Reducing Symptoms

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that causes chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain. It is often associated with one or more other symptoms such as fatigue, stiffness, and insomnia. The pain of Fibromyalgia syndrome (also known as FMS) typically includes particular areas of increased sensitivity called tender points.

Fibromyalgia affects up to 2% of the population. The best treatment approach is integrative combining Western medicine, therapeutic lifestyle changes and complementary therapies. Complementary therapy, like acupuncture is effective in reducing symptoms of fibromyalgia. An important study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings showed that acupuncture reduced symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia including reduction in pain, fatigue, and anxiety. In addition, it was found to be as effective as some medications. Using the FIO score (a standard measure of fibromyalgia activity), acupuncture reduced the score by 7 points. This clinical benefit is comparable to pharmacological interventions such as tricyclic antidepressants (a decrease of 7 points) and the pain medication Tramadol (a decrease of 6 points)

According to the lead author, Dr. David P. Martin, M.D., PhD, “We found that acupuncture significantly improved symptoms of fibromyalgia. Symptomatic improvement was not restricted to pain relief and was most significant for fatigue and anxiety.”

It is believed that acupuncture may actually block pain impulses from reaching the brain. Acupuncture increases production of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. The gentle insertion of acupuncture needles at specific sites causes a measurable release of endorphins into the blood stream. These natural pain killers help decrease pain. Repeated treatments are felt to up-regulate endorphins causing increased production of endorphins and thus a sustained reduction in pain.

Acupuncture is felt to increase a patient’s pain threshold, which is normally low in patients with fibromyalgia. It also increases the production of neurotransmitters, which carry impulses between nerve cells. Acupuncture increases serotonin, which is also typically low in fibromyalgia patients. Seratonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for “feeling happy”. It controls mood by helping with sleep, calming anxiety and reducing depression.

Neurotransmitters stimulate or inhibit nerve impulses in the brain that relay sensations such as pain. Elevated levels of neurotransmitters can increase a patient’s tolerance to pain.

Benefits of Acupuncture For Fibromyalgia Patients
Less pain
Better sleep
More energy
Relaxation / Stress Reduction
Anxiety reduction
Reduction of depression
Possible boost to the immune system
Better overall health
Acupuncture is a safe and effective way of reducing symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia Treatment with Acupuncture in Bergen County, NJ
Dr. Betty Keller specializes in acupuncture, combined with Western medicine in treating fibromyalgia. Her medical practice is in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, serving surrounding areas and Bergen County.

To request an appointment to visit her office at 777 Franklin Ave | Franklin Lakes, NJ 07417, please contact us: 201-485-7930.

Treating Fibromyalgia Naturally: How Dietary Supplements Matter

What does it mean to ease fibromyalgia symptoms naturally? A natural approach uses treatments that involve lifestyle, diet, nutrition, and specific activities to help you reduce fibromyalgia pain.

Medications have their place. But as you may have discovered, there isn’t a simple pill to make fibromyalgia go away. There is no universal set of symptoms. Chronic pain, fatigue, stiffness and depression are among the difficulties. Fibromyalgia has different triggers, and different effective treatments, for different people.

Most likely, it will take a mix of different approaches to treat fibromyalgia. Your own path to wellness may not be like anyone else’s path, and may take some work to figure out.

Nutritional Supplements As Part of A Treatment Plan

People with fibromyalgia are finding that certain herbs and supplements help improve pain relief without the difficulties and complications of drugs.

Before beginning a treatment plan with nutritional supplements, check with your doctor. Get the information you need about dosage, and any possible interaction with prescription or over-the-counter medicines you are taking.

Here are a few of the many helpful nutritional supplements that have proven important in reducing fibromyalgia symptom and improving wellness:

  • Vitamins D, E, the B vitamins: Researchers believe that too little Vitamin D is linked to muscle aches and joint problems. It’s not just for bones anymore. Vitamin E helps anti-oxidants reduce cell damage. B Vitamins, especially Vitamin B12 help with energy production.
  • Minerals, especially calcium and magnesium: Studies find that women with fibromyalgia also have much lower levels of calcium, magnesium, iron, and manganese than those without fibromyalgia. Magnesium (found in leafy greens and whole grain) and calcium are important for proper bone formation. Magnesium also has an important role in the activation of hundreds of enzymes in the body. Raising low levels of magnesium and calcium with supplements is beneficial to many people with fibromyalgia
  • GABA is a neurotransmitter that is sometimes low in people with fibromyalgia. Taking GABA may help reduce anxiety and improve sleep for some people with fibromyalgia.
  • SAM-E is derived from an amino acid. It promotes health in the joints and is involved with neurotransmitter function. Among its several benefits, it is used to treat pain in osteoarthritis and relieve depression. It’s found to help some people with fibromyalgia more than others.

These are just some of the dozens of nutritional supplements that may have an important role in treating fibromyalgia

They are seen as part of a natural approach to treatment because they are dietary supplements, rather than medicines, and are available without prescription.

It’s important to work with a doctor who is experienced and knowledgeable about the use of dietary supplements, and who can help you find how to evaluate them for your own treatment plan.

You can explore a few more details about specfic dietary supplements in these brief videos:

Dietary supplements can work along side other natural treatments. They don’t interfere with your food plan, acupuncture, massage, and relaxation techniques you want to use for better pain relief, rest, and sleep with fibromyalgia.

Top 5 Sleep Strategies for Fibromyalgia

For people with fibromyalgia, sleep is more than ordinary downtime. Getting good quality sleep is an important strategy to reduce pain, fatigue, and emotional stress that are some of the biggest challenges of living with this condition.

Research suggests that the normal sleep pattern is interrupted for people with fibromyalgia. Studies show bursts of “awake” brain activity, that constantly interrupt the deepest, most restorative sleep stages. Some studies show that deep sleep is interrupted twice as often for people with fibromyalgia than for those with normal sleep patterns. It’s not clear whether brain chemistry or pain is the cause.

Even if the connection between sleep disturbance and fibromyalgia isn’t completely understood, getting better sleep is important. Regardless of the cause, interrupted sleep leads to higher pain, extreme fatigue, and limited mental functioning.

When you get better sleep with fibromyalgia, pain symptoms decrease, mental focus and concentration improve, you feel less stress and more able to enjoy daily activities.

Strategies for Better Sleep

There are dozens of things to try to improve sleep quality. Every body is different. Here are the my top recommendations

1) Dedicate regular hours for sleep, and don’t try to go over or under them. It may seem counter-productive to get up on time if you think you can sleep some more. But the quality of your sleep will be better and less disturbed if you limit your time to the just the amount you need to help feel refreshed.
2) Keep a regular routine. Your body naturally adjusts to a sleep schedule if you have a consistent bedtime. Specifically, going to sleep is easier if you have a regular time you go to bed. It also important to wake up at the same time everyday. In fact it actually may be more important to wake up at the same time every morning, in order to have better quality sleep.
3) Help yourself fall asleep more easily and regularly by winding down your activity level well before bedtime. That means limiting computer use, limiting time in front of any screen, avoiding drinks with caffeine and alcohol. Wind down your physical activity.
4) Exercise regularly, but leave the last 3 hours before bedtime for quieting your body. Many people find that a warm bath with Epson salts very relaxing to aching muscles. Warm herbal tea and a light protein snack can also help your body feel relaxed and calm. Relaxation techniques that calm your mind and body can be very helpful in bringing on good quality sleep. Deep breathing and massage are two such techniques that help.
5) Limit daytime napping. It makes it harder for you to get the deep restful sleep you need most during your regular bedtime hours.

These are just a few of the many sleep strategies that can make a big difference in reducing your symptoms.

Here are some additional resources for you, with more tips and insights into better sleep:

If you enjoy this health tip please share it or print it for your use. It comes to you from Dr. Betty Keller, an integrative therapy and fibromyalgia specialist, practicing in Franklin Lakes New Jersey at the Optimal Wellness Center

How Fibromyalgia Disturbs Normal Sleep

We know that every body needs sleep.

During sleep, your body restores both physical and mental functions. Sleep takes your body through stages of rest, moving from higher to lower levels of brain and muscle activity. This is the sleep cycle, which repeats a few times during the course of normal sleep.

Sleep specialists refer to the 5 stages in normal sleep, normally described by number. Briefly they are:

  1. Transition; you have just fallen asleep but can easily be awakened and become alert
  2. Light sleep where brain activity, heart rate and breathing slow in preparation for deep sleep
  3. The start of deep sleep, also called slow wave sleep, because the level of brain activity begins to produce slower delta-waves when measured
  4. Deep sleep when the brain activity shows only slow waves, and the body does most of its regeneration; if awakened at this phase, a person is groggy and unfocused
  5. Dream stage, or active stage of sleep. This includes rapid-eye-movement or REM sleep. Brain, breathing and muscle activity increase, sometimes almost as much as when you are awake.

During stages 3 and 4, the body does fine repairs to bones muscles and tissues. Hormones to stimulate cell growth increase. During REM sleep, brain areas that handle memory and emotions are more active.

What does sleep do for you?

Good sleep helps you feel refreshed and re-energized physically. You feel alert when awake, and your memory stays in reasonably good working order.

More work is being done now to study the connection between fibromyalgia and sleep. Research shows that fibromyalgia disturbs the stages of deepest sleep. One study at the National Institutes of Health found that when deep sleep is interrupted, otherwise healthy women had lower tolerance to pain, and increased discomfort and fatigue.

With fibromyalgia, these symptoms are linked with a lack of normal sleep:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling a lack of energy
  • Increased anxiety
  • Depression

The connection between sleep disturbance and fibromyalgia needs more study. Researchers are working to better understand the causes of sleep problems. Does the pain of fibromyalgia disrupt the sleep cycle, or does altered body chemistry cause the interrupted sleep cycle seen in people with fibromyalgia?

Better sleep means much better pain relief, energy and lower emotional stress for people with fibromyalgia. Because sleep is so important to coping with fibromyalgia, it’s important to know that getting good sleep may have to be a major focus for you in taking good care of yourself.

Fibromyalgia definitely makes it much harder for you to get the sleep you need – but once you understand sleep’s role in reducing your symptoms, you can plan some good sleep strategies to make the most of your ability to sleep.

More sleep stratgies are coming soon. Meanwhile you can check out these more detailed suggestions:

Improve Sleep Quality with Fibromyalgia
What is the Connection Between Sleep Problems and Pain

If you enjoy this health tip please share it or print it for your use. It comes to you from Dr. Betty Keller, an integrative therapy and fibromyalgia specialist, practicing in Franklin Lakes New Jersey at the Optimal Wellness Center

Treating Fibromyalgia Naturally: Diet Does Matter

Pain is the most distinctive characteristic of fibromyalgia. How to stop the pain? This is the most pressing question I hear from those suffering from fibromyalgia in my practice in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey.

One of the biggest challenges in coping with fibromyalgia is dealing the many possible triggers of flare-ups. Unfortunately, many triggers are a common part of the lifestyle we have in this area. Pain flare-ups can happen because of

  • sudden exposure to heat
  • sudden exposure to cold
  • illness
  • stress
  • excessive physical activity
  • lack of sleep

So, to start, it helps to keep an open mind about what may be causing you to experience bouts of more severe pain. You may already have a sense that being tired or stressed makes your symptoms worse. But there may be other triggers that can take some more time and careful observation to recognize.

Your Diet Matters

Many doctors and patients are finding that what you eat plays a big role in controlling symptoms. You may already suspect that eating or drinking certain things makes you feel worse. Following what’s often called an anti-inflammatory diet, or wellness diet, can bring real relief.

Health-promoting foods

Foods in an anti-inflammatory diet include:

  • Whole foods: unprocessed, fruits, and vegetables, and grains and nuts
  • Lean proteins: white meat chicken, eggs, soy and yogurt
  • Foods with healthy fats: omega3 fatty acids, which are high in flaxseed oil, salmon, caviar and walnuts
  • Antioxidants: These are compounds that prevent damage from unstable molecules called free radicles.

Antioxidants are found in Vitamin A-rich vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots and spinach. They’re also found in high vitamin C foods such as oranges, watermelon, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes and blueberries. Vitamin E-rich foods also provide antioxidants, in such foods as wheat germ oil, peanuts, almonds and sunflower seeds.

These foods are just a few among many choices you have as you look for natural ways to reduce pain.

It’s also important to avoid foods that can make symptoms worse. You may already know that caffeine makes it harder to fall asleep – which fibromyalgia pain already makes quite difficult.

Many people with fibromyalgia have noticed sensitivities to particular foods or ingredients. While this varies from person to person, you may find you feel better when you avoid processed sugar, MSG, nitrates or artificial sweeteners

If you’re not sure, a food journal – written notes about what you eat and how you feel — can help you recognize food sensitivities you may not otherwise know you have.

An anti-inflammatory diet does seem to help people with fibromyalgia feel better – by a lot. This may seem surprising, given that inflammation isn’t a major characteristic of fibromyalgia. Even if the pain isn’t caused by tissue swelling or damage to muscles and joints, you may find that a well-chosen food plan helps lower your fibromyalgia pain significantly.

Here are a few recipes I share with my patients at the Optimal Wellness Center, to help you explore these health-promoting foods.

Diet is one tool among others to cope with fibromyalgia. We’ll also explore, in other articles, what else you can do to ease the pain of fibromyalgia naturally.

With so many possible triggers, it’s unlikely that a pill or medication can make it all simply go away. Your best defense may be to find a combination of approaches — including natural ones — to keep your flare-ups to a minimum.

Finding the Right Fibromyalgia Doctor: What to Ask About Treatment When Choosing a Doctor

If you have been living with muscle pain, soreness and sleep loss for along time, you may decide to look for a doctor who specializes in treating fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia can be a challenge to treat successfully.  It’s not simple to diagnose.  And because people who suffer with fibromyalgia seem to look normal on the outside, some patients have trouble finding a doctor who believes the symptoms are real.

Finding a Doctor Committed to Helping You

When you’re in chronic pain, you need a doctor who’s committed to finding the correct cause, and creating a treatment plan that really works for you.  A doctor who specializes in treating chronic pain may – or may not — be a good doctor to treat fibromyalgia.

Here are a few important questions to help you explore a doctor’s approach, experience, and confidence in helping people live better with fibromyalgia:

1) Questions about getting the right diagnosis

  1. How do you confirm a diagnosis?
  2. Do I need to re-do medical tests I’ve already had done?
  3. Do you want to see the test results I have from other doctors?
  4. What do you test for and how does that help plan the treatment?

2) Questions about finding the best treatment approach

  1. What medications work best, in your experience?
  2. How confident are you that medications will help me feel better?
  3. If the medications don’t work for me, what other treatments would you try?
  4. Do you include medical acupuncture, physical therapy, dietary restrictions or certain exercise programs in your treatment plan?
  5. Do you provide acupuncture, nutrition supplements or exercise plans, or do you recommend others for these?

3) Questions about follow-up and monitoring your care

  1. What should I do between appointments if my symptoms get worse?
  2. What if have questions about treatment or medication after I get home – what should I do?
  3. How often do you recommend I come in for follow-up visits if all is going well?

When you find a doctor you want to work with, you’ll still need to take an active part in your self-care.  If you’re willing to follow the treatment plan and weed out the less-successful approaches, you can isolate those therapies that truly make you feel better.  Fibromyalgia is not completely understood, and researchers are finding new insights into the causes and mechanisms behind it.  An expert fibromyalgia doctor will keep informed about the progress in research, and will use that to help you improve your treatment plan over time.

About Dr. Keller

Dr. Betty Keller practices integrative medicine at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey.  She is a board certified doctor specializing in fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, weight loss, medical acupuncture and disease prevention, serving Franklin Lakes, Wyckoff, NJ, and nearby areas.

Seeing a Fibromyalgia Doctor: How to Make the Most of Your Visit

A successful treatment plan is built on good communication between you and your doctor. This is true even for a fibromyalgia doctor, or a one specializing in treating chronic pain.

The questions you and your doctor ask each other are the starting point to finding real recovery from fatigue and pain.

Getting the Right Diagnosis

The right treatment addresses the true cause of your symptoms. Fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose correctly, because several other conditions can cause pain and extreme fatigue. Arthritis, lupus, thyroid problems, or side effects to medicines can cause pain, poor sleep quality and even confusion and anxiety,

There’s no ‘biological marker’ – no single blood test, lab result, or tell-tale symptom that confirms you have fibromyalgia.

So, you and your doctor both need to answer this question first, when you seek treatment:

Is this fibromyalgia, or are there other causes for these symptoms?

Your doctor will use your account of your symptoms, and the results of several laboratory tests, to diagnoses your condition correctly. A correct diagnosis and health assessment is the start of the right course of treatment for you.

Be Prepared to Answer Questions Well

You can help your doctor if you prepare for your visit ahead of time. It may take some careful observation, time to think through your past experience, and even some written notes, to give the most helpful answers about your pain.

A doctor who specializes in treating fibromyalgia will want to learn:

  1. How long have you been having the symptoms? “A long time” does not give your doctor meaningful information. To prepare for this question, think about what you were doing when you first started noticing the symptoms – recall holidays, events at work, or activities you did at a certain time (like back-to-school shopping)
  2. Where is the pain located? Think in terms of specific muscle areas, joints. You may think you just ‘ache all over,’ and if that’s true that’s what your doctor needs to know. If you can, be specific about where the pain is located, especially if you feel tender spots. This gives your doctor the information to plan the right tests and treatment strategies.
  3. How severe is your pain? Pain is hard to describe objectively. Your doctor will most likely ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10, in each location that you feel pain.
  4. How do your pain symptoms impact your life? Your life includes work, daily routines like eating, exercising and sleeping, and personal activities. If you feel better or worse after eating or doing certain things, be specific. If sleep is difficult, make note of how much sleep you get at night, and if it’s interrupted.
  5. What medications are you taking? What have you tried? You can answer this by bringing the actual medicine with you, or bring a list of medications and the dose. Include over-the-counter medicines and any nutrition or herbal supplements you may be taking. Get copies of recent lab and medical records sent in advance.

It’s also important be ready with questions you have for the doctor. Feel free to write them down and bring them. You probably want to ask:

  • Is this definitely fibromyalgia we’re dealing with?
  • What kind of relief should I expect from pain medications?
  • How long should I wait for the medicines to start working?
  • What else can we do if this treatment doesn’t work?
  • How much better can I expect to feel long-term?

If you feel stressed when seeing the doctor, you don’t have to go alone – find a trusted family member or friend to go with you. This can help a lot if you are feeling overwhelmed. A family member can help you recall what you and your doctor discussed.

After your first visit, plan to have follow-up visits with your doctor. Getting control over your fibromyalgia symptoms is a process. It involves the science of pain medication, non-drug therapies including exercise, nutrition and healthy eating, and trial and error to find what helps you get the upper hand on pain.

By talking with your doctor, you can start to make sense of your symptoms and learn what to do about them. Working together, you can determine which drug treatments, natural therapies and self-care is key to the quality of your recovery.

About Dr. Keller

Dr. Betty Keller practices integrative medicine at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. She is a board certified doctor specializing in fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, weight loss, medical acupuncture and disease prevention, serving Franklin Lakes, Wyckoff, NJ, and nearby areas.

Treating Fibromyalgia Naturally: Dealing With Stress

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, you’re learning that it’s a chronic pain disorder, with body-wide soreness and tenderness in muscles its major symptom.

But there are other characteristics too.  The Mayo Clinic describes it this way:

Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues.

You may find that certain things you do, eat, or even think can trigger your symptoms.  While your pain symptoms may simply just happen, more likely you feel worse after a lack of sleep, eating certain foots, a lack of exercise, and increased stress.

Stress May Be One of Your Worst Pain Triggers

Not only does your pain get worse with stress.  Being upset makes sleeping more difficult, eating right harder to do, and keeping your spirits up almost impossible.  These things are hard enough to do anyway, let alone under stress. So, managing your stress is especially important when you’re dealing with fibromyalgia.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to managing stress.  There are several approaches open to you. Look at stress management actions you can do by yourself, as well as those involving the help of others to deal better with stress.

Look for Relaxing Lifestyle Choices

As far as possible, include more downtime and calming activities.  Turn off the computer and make more time for things like:

  • Taking a warm bath:  Allow yourself to add soothing agents such as Epsom salts or lavender oil, juniper oil or chamomile.
  • Spending less time with aggravating people: Make more time for those you find comforting and easy to be around
  • Going to a personal quiet space: A sanctuary that invites peace of mind and helps you let go of tension can be an important part of learning to relax.  This can be a room in your home, a garden, a place in nature, a park, or a church, or a place with your favorite animals or a pet.

Learn Some Relaxation Techniques

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, there are these main types of relaxation techniques:

Autogenic training: a learned technique to help you use visual imagery and body awareness to move yourself into a deep state of relaxation

Deep breathing: this is a strategy for relieving stress by taking in more air, and lowering activity in order to focus just on calmer, deeper breathing.  For example, standing or sitting quietly, breathe in through your nose.  Breathe in fully so your ribcage area expands gently. Hold your breath for 3 seconds, then breathe out through the mouth.  When exhaling, make your time to exhale longer than your time to inhale; this will help you relax further, and release tension from your muscles. Repeat a few times as you can without discomfort.

Progressive muscle relaxation: You focus on particular muscle groups, tensing and then relaxing them, slowly.  This approach involves your whole body, working in sequence, starting at the toes and ending with the head.

Meditation:  Two main forms of meditation are Transcendental (using a mantra or phrase), and mindfulness (focusing on thoughts and your own sensations).  Some exercise programs, such as yoga, also have a meditation component

You can safely learn relaxation techniques from well-recommended books and audio programs.  You can also find classes in many areas , and learn a technique with an experienced coach.

More Natural Approaches to Fibromyalgia and Stress Management

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:  This approach focuses on challenging a person’s overly negative or self-defeating thinking and behavior patterns. It helps replace them with new thoughts and ideas for coping better and feeling less anxious.  There are self-guided and therapist-lead ways to explore this therapy.

Body Treatments, Including Massage, Acupuncture and Exercise:

The topic of acupuncture and stress relief deserves a good look.  Here are some articles to help you explore the proven benefits of this ancient Chinese treatment, to stimulate healing, reduce pain, lower stress hormones, and improve health:

Exercise can play a major role in reducing the negative impact of stress on your body and pain levels.  To find out more, look at:

Dealing well with stress is a personal matter, but very important to improving your health. You may need to explore and find your own best combination of approaches for different situations or times of year.  When it comes to getting the upper hand on stress, you may need to take some time to find your own best answers.  A doctor experienced in treating fibromyalgia can guide you to resources that have helped others recover, and live well despite the daunting stress of coping with fibromyalgia.

About Dr. Keller

Dr. Betty Keller practices integrative therapy at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey.  She is a licensed acupuncturist and medical doctor specializing in fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, weight loss and disease prevention, serving Franklin Lakes, Wyckoff, NJ, and nearby areas.

Fibromyalgia and Exercise: What Kind, How Much, How Often?

If you’ve decided to do what you can to reduce your fibromyalgia pain, you’ll want to look at ways to include exercise.

You’ve heard that more physical activity is proven to reduce pain and improve your physical and emotional well-being.  For people who have made exercise a part of self-care, after about a month, it changes from something dreadful, into something to feel proud of, and an important part of your ability to function better in other parts of your life.

The key is to start small, and consider activities and places to exercise that give you the support you need to start and keep working at it.

So, here are some tips to help you begin.

How Much Exercise To Start With

If you’re very reluctant to start, start small. You can benefit from sessions as brief as 10 minutes, a few times a day.  Try this to start:

  • 10 minutes before work
  • 10 minutes at lunch
  • 10 minutes before or after dinner

Here are some of the most common activities that work as exercise for people with fibromyalgia:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Golf
  • Dancing
  • Hiking
  • Water exercise
  • Low-impact aerobics
  • Rowing/kayaking

Going to the gym may be your preference, especially if you want to work with a trainer, or a friend.  Having someone to encourage you and to check in with often helps keep your promises to exercise.

If you go to a gym or use a home gym, here are good ways to exercise:

  • Stair climbing
  • Elliptical rower
  • Stationary bicycle
  • Treadmill walking
  • Doing light weight-bearing exercises with 1-2-pound weights

Weight-bearing exercises are particularly good at helping you increase strength and build bone.

Exercises That Address Mind, Body and Spirit

Several traditional forms of exercise blend breathing, stretching, fluid motion and mental focus.  These practices often provide a great benefit for people suffering with pain, fatigue, anxiety and depression.

 

  • Yoga helps increase flexibility, strength, and brings your attention to deep breathing and relaxation.  The combination of stretching and moving helps lift anxiety, depression, and improve sleep.
  • Qi gong (pronounced “chee goong”) is a traditional Chinese practice of movements that combines balance, slow and quick motion, and breathing.  It helps you increase energy, lessen fatigue and pain, and promote healing
  • Tai Chi is a form of Qi Gong.  It emphasizes meditation, relaxation and passive concentration.

How Often Should You Exercise

It is important to talk with your doctor if you are beginning your exercise program, physical therapy, or weight training.  In most cases, your medical treatment and exercise plan can work together well.

You will want to avoid muscle strains and sprains, so start slowly.  Your doctor can help you find good activities recommended for the particular challenges you face as you start.

  • For example, I may advise patients who want to begin exercising to try:

    2-3 times per week for weight-bearing exercises

  • Resting 48 hours between weight training sessions if training the whole body
  • Do upper body one day and lower body the next day for an alternating training program

Here are some more resources that patients at the Optimal Wellness Center find helpful to make exercising more enjoyable and something you feel good about doing:

It takes commitment to overcome feeling like the pain is too bad and you can’t exercise right now.   You can take heart and find a way to start that works for you.;

If you enjoy this health tip please share it or print it for your use. It comes to you from Dr. Betty Keller, an integrative therapy and fibromyalgia specialist, practicing in Franklin Lakes New Jersey at the Optimal Wellness Center.

Treating Fibromyalgia Naturally: How Exercise Matters

With fibromyalgia, you experience pain and stiffness in your muscles and joints.   This pain can be very discouraging and may make movement and exercise a very unwelcome idea at first.

But there is something important to know about fibromyalgia and exercise.  Study after study shows that exercise helps significantly to reduce pain.  It also improves other difficult problems you face with fibromyalgia, like chronic fatigue and depression.

Exercise helps your body release more endorphins, which are natural painkillers.  It also increases the hormone serotonin – known as the happy hormone.  It relieves stress, decreases anxiety, and elevates your mood.

When you become more physically active, the quality of your sleep improves. These are just a few of the many proven ways that exercise reduces fibromyalgia pain scores and gives you more control over healing your body.

Does Soreness Mean Fibromyalgia and Exercise Don’t Mix?

While fibromyalgia pain is certainly disabling and uncomfortable, it does not come with swelling or inflammation. So the good news is that muscle and joint damage is very unlikely to be part of your experience with fibromyalgia.  You can rest assured that you are working to fight back against pain (and fatigue, anxiety and depression), but not muscle injury.

Your Fibromyalgia and Exercise Program: Slowly, But Do Start

I recommend a very gentle but dedicated approach to exercise.  We are not talking about training for the Olympics.  You can start slowly and gently, and you can change your activity level over time as you gain strength and begin to enjoy results.

The activities I recommend include walking, yoga, golf, martial arts – activities involving fluid movement and low impact.  You may want to work with a physical therapist to help you start (a brief video about that is here). More details about exercises to try and how to start is available in upcoming articles.

Have Faith That You Have What it Takes to Get Moving

Getting better with fibromyalgia does take hard work.  And courage.  Trying new movements and exercises, and then doing them is a process, not an instant cure.   With fibromyalgia, I see patients who feel helpless at first, become braver and stronger, and truly inspiring as they overcome a truly daunting condition.

Feeling pain may tempt you to sit motionless in front of the TV and try to take your mind off it.  But exercise is often the best real way to make a real difference in the quality of life you can enjoy in spite of fibromyalgia.

About Dr. Keller

Dr. Betty Keller practices integrative medicine at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey.  She is a board certified doctor specializing in fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, weight loss, medical acupuncture   and disease prevention, serving Franklin Lakes, Wyckoff, NJ, and nearby areas.

Fibromyalgia Survival Guide: 5 Keys to Making This Your Best Year Ever

Many people see a new year as a time to for new beginnings. People plan to lose weight, get active, and get healthier to enjoy more of what life has to offer.

If you have fibromyalgia, you probably want very much to make pain, stress, and fatigue a much smaller part of your life.  But you worry about how to reach these goals.  You want to eat better, sleep better, and feel happier – with less pain.  But you know that making changes your diet or your activity can lead to painful flare-ups.  Making lifestyle changes seems almost impossible when your muscles hurt, and you’re tired all the time, especially when you try something new.

Let’s pause right now and take an approach to fibromyalgia treatment that’s not based on big promises, but on smaller things you can do to feel a whole lot better despite fibromyalgia.

Instead of resolutions, let’s look at

5 keys to building a better life with fibromyalgia

  1. Setting specific goals
  2. Making small changes
  3. Learning what works
  4. Combining therapies and self- care that make you feel better
  5. Getting support to keep going

1) Setting specific goals

Since there are a number of therapies to try, we set a clear target, such as sleeping better, improving fitness, or reducing pain. First, every patient I see has a detailed, comprehensive set of medical tests and a physical exam. This helps us see where best to start. We may focus one or a few these areas to begin to make changes:

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Nutrition
  • Medication
  • Sleep Quality
  • Emotional Health and State of Mind

Next, we look at how to start moving toward the health goals you’ve set in these areas.

2) Making small changes

What you eat has a lot to do with how you feel. This is especially true for people with fibromyalgia.  Eating a healthy anti-inflammatory diet is a great place to start making modest changes.

Kale, for example, is one of the most nutrition-dense foods known.  Kale’s natural defenses against diseases, insects, and even sun damage also help our bodies heal when we eat it.  You can learn to choose similar healthy foods regularly by remembering they tend to be darker in color, such as grapes, red cabbage, strawberries and blueberries, green tea, walnuts, and tomatoes.

This approach isn’t about cutting out all carbs, eating just protein, or anything drastic. Finding out about anti-inflammatory foods, and planning meals with these – and eating less sugar, refined foods and meats – is one small but powerful change toward forming new eating habits that leave you feeling less pain, and more healthy.

3) Learning what works

Exercise, for example, has a lot to do with health, but you may feel like you’re in too much pain to work out.  If going to the gym doesn’t work for you – then let’s go somewhere else.  It helps to think of exercise as simply things you enjoy that get you moving.  Some patients find that a few 10-minute sessions a day work best.  The most helpful activities include smooth, no-impact or low-impact movements, and have a mind-calming element, like yoga, tai chi, or walking.

  • Acupuncture might not be a treatment you would have thought to try.  But studies and patient experience reveal several healing responses to this painless treatment.  Endorphins increase, and stress hormones decrease.  While it deserves its own discussion, the overall effects of acupuncture help improve sleep, reduce stress, and even relieve anxiety and depression.
  • Your state of mind has a lot to do with how you feel physically, with fibromyalgia.  Mental stress, physical tension and pain tend to trigger each other and can start a whole downward spiral.  A positive frame of mind helps all of us choose better foods, activities and rest periods especially when we have old negative habits to overcome.

4) Combining fibromyalgia treatments and self-care that make you feel better

Your doctor may prescribe pain medication and over-the-counter nutritional supplements.  By themselves, they may provide some relief, but not much, or not for long.  But when you start taking care of your diet, get moving, and get better sleep, your body’s own healing processes and your medications gain more power over your fibromyalgia symptoms, and you feel well for longer and longer periods.

5) Getting support to keep going 

Finding the right doctor is an important part of finding the right blend of therapies for long-term relief.   You need someone who understands the pain you describe is real, and who has experience observing the effects of different therapies, and can help you find a number of safe treatments you can use in combination.

Understanding friends, and support from others with fibromyalgia can help a lot too. Good friends can challenge the negative thoughts that we may jump to automatically.   Being around positive people can help us find more joy, peace and gratitude in every day life.

Fibromyalgia can be difficult to treat because doctors are not always familiar with how to diagnose it and treat it — and no one single treatment works.

Each person responds differently to therapies. Some medications work better than others.  Specific foods, forms of exercise, and techniques for getting better sleep work better for some people than others.  A successful treatment plans combines a number of approaches from different disciplines.

An integrative approach – which I practice at the Optimal Wellness Center – combines traditional medicine with complementary therapies – such as diet, nutritional supplements, herbal medicine, acupuncture, exercise and stress management.   It also combines the doctor’s efforts with your self-care efforts to find the most effective treatment for you.

About Dr. Keller

Dr. Betty Keller practices integrative medicine at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey.  She is a board certified doctor specializing in fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, weight loss, medical acupuncture and disease prevention, serving Franklin Lakes, Wyckoff, NJ, and nearby areas.

Awake with Pain? How to Sleep Better With Fibromyalgia

Do you find it impossible to get a good night’s sleep with fibromyalgia? Do you feel like the lack of sleep is making your pain worse?

If being tired seems to worsen your symptoms, you are not alone.   Doctors have found lack of sleep does make your body more sensitive to pain.  You may find the pain keeps you awake, so you rest poorly. Being tired makes your fibromyalgia symptoms flare up, so you still can’t sleep.  You may feel caught in an endless cycle.  But there are ways to cope that can help you get more sleep.

I’m going to share quite a few tips with you.  This is because there is no single best way to manage this condition.  You may have to try a mix of different methods to get the best results for you.

What I can share with you are the answers found by many people with fibromyalgia who have found specific steps to control their symptoms.

  1. Create a regular routine – Get your body used to a pattern of sleeping and waking.  Set a time to go to bed and a time to rise.  That may mean planning your day’s activities to help you wind down in time.  Find the things that tend to keep you up late (sugary foods, computer work) – and plan them or replace them with other activities so they have less impact on your sleep.
  2. Listen to your body – you may find certain activities are more soothing than others to do before you go to bed.  Finding a quiet, calming activity for the 20-30 minutes before trying to sleep can help you get much needed rest.
    1. A warm bath, soaking in Epsom salts, lavender oil, chamomile oil or juniper oil can soothe sore muscles enough to let  you rest.
    2. Meditation, yoga or prayer can help you clear your mind and also relax muscles
  3. Avoid naps – they disrupt the sleep pattern that allow you to rest more fully.
  4. Try natural fiber sleepwear and sheets.  These can allow your skin to breathe better, and prevent big swings in temperature while you sleep. Temperature swings have been linked to pain flare-ups for people with fibromyalgia.
  5. Try a few good sleeping positions – Doctors recommend sleeping on your side to avoid putting stress on your tender spots. If you sleep on your back. try placing a pillow under tender spots such as the small of your back, or behind your knees. If you sleep on your stomach, a pillow under your stomach helps reduce the arch in your back and keep you more comfortable.

Medications can also help control pain so you can rest.  More information on medicine for fibromyalgia is coming in other tips.

If you enjoy this health tip please share it or print it for your use. It comes to you from Dr. Betty Keller, an integrative therapy and fibromyalgia specialist, practicing in Franklin Lakes New Jersey at the Optimal Wellness Center.

How to Stop the Pain: 7 Facts That People Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia should Know

When you are first diagnosed with fibromyalgia, you may feel overwhelmed.  All you can think of is you want to stop the pain.  That is your number one concern.  Then you learn that fibromyalgia is not like other illnesses – there is no one best treatment. You need to re-learn how to live within your body.

Here are 7 facts that can help you understand what is happening to your body, and how you can begin to find real effective ways to feel better, and live better.

  1. Fibromyalgia is not a disease that can be cured with medicine like an antibiotic, or with surgery.  But know that you can learn what works – from a qualified doctor, and with your own efforts – to give you a better quality of life.
  2. Research – and real life – shows us that when it comes to feeling better, the power to improve lies in part to your ability to take control of your self-care.
  3. Self-care means making a number of changes, rather than a having a single treatment. Lifestyle, medications, how you move during the day, exercise, adding therapies for your mind as well as your body – all are tools you can learn to use to manage your pain much more successfully.
  4. You may worry that the pain of fibromyalgia is from damage happening to your muscles and joints. This may make you concerned about what you can safely to do for treatment. But there is some good news.  Doctors have found that symptoms you are experiencing are caused by over-activation of nerves.  Fibromyalgia causes pain and stiffness in your joints, tendons and muscles, but it won’t damage them. Experts are increasingly looking at fibromyalgia as a nerve condition.
  5. Even if fibromyalgia does not directly damage muscles, it may affect the way you use them – or don’t use them.  The long-term pain may cause you become less active, and loss of strength may worsen your symptoms unless you find ways to stay active.  Explore movements, stretch breaks, walks and mild exercises to help reduce soreness.
  6. Sleep matters a lot when it comes to reducing your pain.  But how can you possibly get a good night’s sleep?  Studies show that it’s not just the pain – but the thoughts you think in your head have a lot to do with your ability to sleep.  You may not believe it now, but using therapies to help you drop negative thinking, calm your mind, and do activities you enjoy can improve sleep.  Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is one way to find the mental energy you need to take good care of yourself
  7. The science of pain management has come a long way.  Prescriptions, over-the-counter medicine, and nutritional supplements can be part of your health care plan, but there is no magic pill for fibromyalgia.

It may take some time to feel confident in your ability to control your pain.  It is important not to suffer in silence.  If you are seeing a doctor who understands and specializes in fibromyalgia, talk about your experiences.  It may take be hard at first to have to open up to so many new approaches to wellness.  You may have to consider making some lifestyle changes you would rather not have to make.  But once you find a doctor with information you can work with to help yourself feel better, you can find a real a path to wellness.

If you enjoy this health tip please share it or print it for your use. It comes to you from Dr. Betty Keller, an integrative therapy and fibromyalgia specialist, practicing in Franklin Lakes New Jersey at the Optimal Wellness Center.

Fibromyalgia Holiday Survival Guide

7 Tips for Surviving — Even Celebrating — Holidays When You Have Fibromyalgia

They’re coming.  The winter holidays.  In New Jersey, where I live and work, Thanksgiving brings on weeks of more traffic, bigger crowds and longer lines at restaurants and shopping centers. If you have fibromyalgia, it’s also time to protect your health.

Let’s pause right now and make a plan so you can enjoy the holidays as much as possible.

Time management is key to surviving the holidays with fibromyalgia.

Here are my 7 fibromyalgia holiday survival tips. They’re the simplest, easiest tips for controlling stress and saving your best energies to be with your family and friends:

  1. Remember, you don’t have to do everything.  You don’t have to make meals or dishes from scratch or even cook every meal.  If you are hosting the holiday meal, make it pot luck.   Everyone loves to bring a favorite dish.
  2. No need to go all-out.  Keep your meals simple.  Keep menu plans simple.
  3. Decorating should be fun and bring you joy. Make it a family affair, or invite friends over to help decorate. Again you don’t have to have too many decorations, put out the ones that mean the most to you, or have special memories.
  4. Decide first what’s most important to you.  Just do that.  Is it attending a service? Is it spending time with family? Save your energy just for this.
  5. Find family and friends you enjoy and savor the time with them. By now, you’ve learned that some people are more understanding of fibromyalgia than others.  Some people don’t yet ‘get it.’ You may be worried about offending some people if you don’t eat what they’ve fixed or take part in their plans.  Use what you’ve learned about saying no, and say no. Say yes to the things you enjoy and are important to you. Make good memories.
  6. Tell others what you want.  Be as open as you can about what makes this time special for you – whether it’s having some holiday lights put up; having someone bring home a special treat, or having some time to yourself so you can relax, unwind, and have the rest you need.
  7. Remember to breathe.  This helps decrease stress.  Get as much sleep as you can. Find a way to make your favorite relaxation techniques part of your day, even if your ordinary routine has gone out the window.

My best suggestion is really this: Do what is most important!

Of course you want to feel your best, and enjoy yourself and your loved ones during the holidays.

Putting yourself and your health first may be one of the hardest things to do during the holidays.  But this can be the best time to set yourself free. Allow yourself to focus on what makes them the best they can be, for you, and do away with the rest.

If you enjoy this health tip please share it or print it for your use. It comes to you from Dr. Betty Keller, an integrative therapy and fibromyalgia specialist, practicing in Franklin Lakes New Jersey at the Optimal Wellness Center.

How Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Helps Fibromyalgia Symptoms (video)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is a form of psychotherapy based on the belief that our thoughts influence how our body feels.  It has been shown that CBT produces results in less time than traditional therapy.

Research shows that taking control of your own self-care improves symptoms of fibromyalgia.  Limiting drinking and partying, positive thinking and keeping a journal are usually included in CBT.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has also been linked to improved sleep in patients with fibromyalgia.

Researchers do note, however, that the positive effects of this therapy may not be permanent.

For more answers to your fibromyalgia questions, watch the other videos in this series.

 

 

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

Improve Fibromyalgia Sleep Quality (video)

Quality sleep is a big issue for people with fibromyalgia.  Persistent pain in muscles, tendons and ligaments can flare up randomly, even when you’re asleep or trying to sleep.    Lack of sleep is known to increase pain sensitivity — which can cause a whole cycle of sleeplessness, pain, and more sleeplessness.

How to increase your quality and quantity of sleep

There are a few things you can do to create better quality sleep patterns.  Set a regular sleep routine, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.  Relax and soothe sore muscles by taking a bath in Epsom salts, or oils such as juniper or chamomile right before bed.  De-stress by practicing yoga or meditating, as stress is known to increase the pain of fibromyalgia symptoms.  Try changing your sheets:  natural fiber bedding to allows you to be more comfortable. People with fibromyalgia are known to have fluctuating body temperatures; controlling temperature changes with natural fiber sheets can reduce painful flare-ups.

Avoid alcohol, caffeine and exercise right before bed.

Recommended sleeping positions for people with fibromyalgia

Sleeping on your side is recommended for people with fibromyalgia.  It puts less pressure on tender spots.  Experiment with pillow arrangements for support and comfort.  Be sure to place your pillow so that you don’t create unnecessary stress on tender spots, especially by putting pressure on your neck.

Try different sleep positions, nightly routines, and ways to control stress until you find solutions that make you more comfortable and give you the support you need for a good night’s sleep.

 

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

 

Mind-Body Treatments (video)

Fibromyalgia can be difficult to treat, and mind-body therapies have been shown to be more effective than traditional treatments.  Reducing the stress that causes pain by relaxation and meditation are among the best mind-body options.  Other options include:  Biofeedback, hypnosis, breathing exercises, yoga, tai chi and guided imagery.

For more information on how to take control of your fibromyalgia therapy, watch the other vides in this series.

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

Get the Most from Your Doctor’s Appointment (video)

If you suffer from body-wide pain and suspect you might have fibromyalgia, you should visit a doctor for a proper diagnosis.  To get the most from your doctor’s appointment you need to be prepared ahead of time.

How to Prepare for Your Visit to the Doctor

  1. Create a timeline outlining the length of time you’ve been experiencing pain, how often and where it’s located.
  2. Rate your pain on a scale of 1-10 for each pain location.  Note how often the pain interferes with your daily life and how it affects your sleep.
  3. Bring a list of all your medications, over-the-counter and prescription, and include dosage, frequency and amounts.
  4. Write down any other types of treatments you’ve tried and the results of those treatments.  Bring copies of recent lab and medical records.
  5. Most importantly, write out any questions you have for the doctor.

It’s a good idea to bring someone along with you to either take notes or help you remember the discussion during your visit.

 

 

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

Fibromyalgia – Muscle and Joint Damage

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome, not a disease, triggered by over-activation of nerves.  It doesn’t damage your muscles, tendons and joints, but it may cause pain, stiffness and tenderness resulting in less physical activity.  Without physical activity muscles become weak and can’t provide enough protection to your joints, which become sore and stiff.  These muscles remain sore because they cannot repair themselves as well as someone who isn’t suffering with fibromyalgia.

Researchers have found that people suffering with fibromyalgia have elevated levels of a nerve growth factor and a chemical nerve signal called Substance P, in addition to low levels of Serotonin.  Through this research it is thought fibromyalgia is a neurological condition and not a muscular or joint condition.

 

 

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

Why Does Fibromyalgia Interfere with Normal Sleep? (video)

People with fibromyalgia often have trouble getting a normal night’s sleep.  The sharp and severe or dull and monotonous pain makes it hard to fall asleep or the pain often will wake you up after you have dozed off.  Sleep deprivation decreases the ability to tolerate pain and may actually increase pain.

Insomnia triggered by the pain and discomfort of fibromyalgia often becomes chronic.  There have been reports that people suffering from fatigue due to lack of sleep has cost them their jobs.  Often people are misdiagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, instead of being properly diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.

Schedule an appointment and talk with your doctor about ways of getting better quality sleep with Fibromyalgia.

 

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

 

 

Do Rheumatologists Treat Fibromyalgia? (video)

As a physician specializing in the treatment and diagnoses of arthritis and diseases of the joints, muscles, tendons and bones, a Rheumatologist treats chronic pain, including the pain associated with Fibromyalgia.  You can choose to see a Rheumatologist, but ultimately, you may get the best results from a team of doctors who communicate with each other and coordinate your care.

Careful management can help you control pain and fatigue and restore your quality of life.

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

 

Stress Reduction Techniques for Fibromyalgia (video)

Stress affects the symptoms of people suffering from fibromyalgia and make it worse.  There are lifestyle changes you can make to reduce stress, such as biofeedback, practicing breathing exercises, regular physical exercise, yoga and meditation.  A healthy diet and quality sleep are also recommended.  Making positive changes to your lifestyle will have a positive effect on the pain associated with fibromyalgia.

Please contact your physician to schedule a consultation to talk about your stress level and what you can do to improve it.

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

Is Fibromyalgia All in My Head? (video)

Fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose.  It is considered as a syndrome, not a disease. A syndrome means it is a cluster of symptoms appearing together.  It is not caused by depression or a psychological disorder.

Fibromyalgia is a real neurological condition.  Don’t let anyone try to convince you the pain and fatigue is all in your head. 

 

 

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

Fibromyalgia and Fatigue (video)

Insomnia triggered by the pain and discomfort of fibromyalgia often becomes chronic.  There have been reports that people suffering from fatigue due to lack of sleep has cost them their jobs.  Often people are misdiagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, instead of being properly diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Schedule an appointment with your doctor to find out how you can improve your sleep.

 

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

Fibromyalgia and Headaches (video)

A common symptom of fibromyalgia is headaches.  Many people suffering with fibromyalgia have headaches regularly every day.  There are many reasons for this, such as muscle spasms, sleep apnea or TMJ, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder – all triggers for chronic tension headaches.  Low levels of magnesium, which is common in people suffering with this syndrome, is known to increase chances of migraines.  Chronic pain causes people to be exhausted all the time and causes migraine headaches.  Not getting get enough sleep also causes migraine headaches. 

Fibromyalgia is associated with low levels of the neurotransmitter, Serotonin; and a lack of Serotonin will trigger migraines.  Headaches and fatigue intensify fibromyalgia pain making it that much harder to cope with the pain.  Depression becomes a greater risk too.

If you suffer from headaches regularly, see your doctor for a proper diagnosis. 

 

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

Drugs Specifically Approved to Treat Fibromyalgia (video)

There are currently only three drugs approved by the FDA to treat fibromyalgia. They are Lyrica, Cymbalta and Savella.

Lyrica

Lyrica was created to treat epilepsy. Lyrica calms down accelerated nerve signals associated with fibromyalgia and decreases pain messages that produce discomfort common with fibromyalgia.

Cymbalta

Cymbalta is an anti-depressant known to increase levels of Serotonin and Norepinephrine to help control and suppress pain. Research indicates increased levels of Serotonin and Norepinephrine help reduce painful nerve signals associated with fibromyalgia.

Savella

Savella is used to treat depression, but in the United States is only approved to treat fibromyalgia. It increases available levels of Serotonin and Norepinephrine thereby reducing pain and improving physical function.

If you think you may be suffering from fibromyalgia, see your doctor for a proper diagnosis.

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

Is Fibromyalgia a Real Disease? (video)

Fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose.  It is recognized as a syndrome, not a disease, by the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American College of Rheumatology, the Arthritis Foundation and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.  Describing fibromyalgia as a syndrome means it is a cluster of symptoms appearing together.  It is not caused by depression or a psychological disorder.

Fibromyalgia is a real neurological condition.  Don’t let anyone try to convince you the pain and fatigue is all in your head.  There are currently three FDA-approved drugs used to treat it and insurance companies have designated its own special code for insurance forms.

See your doctor for more information.

 

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

How Can I Learn to Cope More Effectively with Chronic Pain? (video)

If you are experiencing chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, relief can be found by seeking professional counseling and help.  There are pain medications and steps you can take to control your pain and live your life again.  Start by acknowledging your feelings, eating healthy, getting restful, quality sleep, adopting a physical exercise program and seeking professional help.  Biofeedback is beneficial when used with cognitive behavioral therapy to control pain and regain control over your body.   Make yourself familiar with the triggers that cause your discomfort and create a plan of action to work with them.

Don’t suffer in silence.  Seek the help you need.

 

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

Depression and Fibromyalgia (video)

The relationship between fibromyalgia and depression runs deep.  Fibromyalgia patients are thought to have low levels of the mood and pain moderating brain chemicals such as Serotonin, Norepinephrine and Dopamine and chronic surges in Cortisol, the stress hormone. These low levels of brain chemicals are triggers for increased sensitivity to chronic pain, and they are also risk factors for depression.

People with fibromyalgia are more apt to experience clinical depression and anxiety than people who do not suffer with the condition.  Depression does not cause fibromyalgia.  Chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia triggers depression and anxiety and worsens the symptoms.

If you have fibromyalgia and are experiencing depression, see your doctor to discuss your treatment options.

 

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

What is the Connection Between Sleep Problems and Pain? (video)

In order to get a restful night’s sleep, we must experience cycles of light sleep, deep sleep and RIM (rapid eye movement).  Chronic pain caused by fibromyalgia interferes with the needed cycles of sleep causing the body to remain in the light sleep stage.  If deep sleep is never reached, we wake up tired and feeling as if we never slept at all.  These feelings are intensified in people with fibromyalgia by increasing their pain and other symptoms.

Studies have also shown that severe sleep problems create a greater risk of developing fibromyalgia, especially in middle-aged and older women.

Fibromyalgia can be difficult to treat.  Please see your physician for a proper diagnosis.

 

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

What are the Most Common Tender Spots Associated with Fibromyalgia? (video)

Fibromyalgia triggers pain radiating throughout the body from the neck to the toes.  Muscles feel stiff and achy.  These pains leave you feeling overly sensitive to the slightest touch.

How do you know if your pain is from fibromyalgia? 

It is found with fibromyalgia that there are tender spots where pain is substantially stronger, especially when touched.  These tender spots are found primarily around the joints, but not within the joints.

How are you diagnosed with fibromyalgia?

To be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, you must have pain in at least 11 of the 18 tender spots.  The spots are on both sides of the body in the following locations:

  • Front of the Neck
  • Chest
  • Back of Neck
  • Back Shoulder Area
  • Shoulder Blade Area
  • Outer Elbows
  • Inner Knees
  • Sides of the Hips
  • Buttocks

The reason for the tender spots is not clear.  They are usually superficial and located under the surface of the skin.  Inflammation is not found in the surrounding muscles or joints.

If you feel you have pain in these areas and suspect you might be suffering from fibromyalgia, make an appointment to see your doctor for a proper diagnosis.

 

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

Can Psychotherapy Reduce Chronic Pain? (video)

How does Psychotherapy treat chronic pain? 

There is a link between pain and the brain.  Our thoughts, moods and behavior respond to chronic pain.  A person suffering from chronic pain is three times more likely to develop mood or anxiety disorders than someone who doesn’t suffer from chronic pain.  Also, a depressed person is three times as likely to develop chronic pain than someone not depressed.  Treatment for fibromyalgia should include treating the psychological effects of pain.

It’s been said when depression is treated, pain might fade.  When pain fades, depression is likely to go away.  Psychotherapy teaches how to lessen and control psychological distress associated with chronic pain, helps ease depression or anxiety and teaches stress management skills. Following psychotherapy treatment allows people with fibromyalgia more control over their lives and improves pain and mood.

 

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

What are the Most Common Side Effects of Fibromyalgia Drugs? (video)

The FDA has approved three medications to treat and manage fibromyalgia.  Those medications are Lyrica, Cymbalta and Savella.  Each of these medications work for some people and can cause side effects.

Common side effects of each medication are:

Lyrica

  • Mild to moderate dizziness;
  • Sleepiness;
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth; and
  • Swelling of the hands and feet

In rare cases, a severe allergic reaction can cause hives, swelling of the face and trouble breathing.  Avoid drinking alcohol while taking Lyrica.

Cymbalta

  • Constipation;
  • Dry mouth;
  • Nausea;
  • Dizziness upon standing may occur when first starting Cymbalta due to a drop in blood pressure.  Have your doctor check your blood pressure from time to time while using Cymblata;
  • Decreased appetite;
  • Decreased sex drive;
  • Drowsiness; and
  • Increased sweating.

Savella

  • Nausea;
  • Constipation;
  • Dizziness;
  • Sweating;
  • Insomnia;
  • High blood pressure;
  • Increased heart rate; and
  • Excessive sweating.

Before taking any medication for fibromyalgia, discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.  In rare cases in teens and young adults, a fibromyalgia medication may cause suicidal thoughts and actions.  Be particularly alert to any behavior indicating this kind of mood change.

Always check with your doctor before taking this or any medication.

 

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

Can Fibromyalgia be Cured? (video)

While some patients go into remission with the help of lifestyle changes and medical treatments, there is no known cure for fibromyalgia.  There are many different ways to manage and control the pain, but fibromyalgia is considered a chronic condition.  An occupational therapist and a physical therapist provide different ways of coping and managing the pain for many patients.  Along with the three prescription medications available today, alternative treatments have also been known to provide relief and improve symptoms related to fibromyalgia.

See your doctor for more information on managing the chronic pain of fibromyalgia.

 

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

Who Gets Fibromyalgia? (video)

Characteristics of Fibromyalgia

The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown and is difficult to treat.  It is characterized by chronic pain in the muscles, tendons and ligaments.  Of those people with fibromyalgia, most are women.  Anyone can develop fibromyalgia, but women are seven times more likely than men to suffer from the syndrome.

Fibromyalgia generally occurs between the ages of 20 to 50 and the risk increases with age.  People who have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis or autoimmune diseases, like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or anklyosing spondylitis have a greater risk of developing fibromyalgia.

Other Risk Factors 

Insomnia and sleep problems are a risk factor for fibromyalgia.  People who consistently get a good night’s sleep are less likely to develop fibromyalgia than someone with chronic insomnia.  People with fibromyalgia have fluctuating levels of Serotonin, which helps regulate sleep and mood.  Low levels of this brain chemical can make you overly sensitive to pain.

Although we do not know what causes fibromyalgia or how to prevent it, we do know those living with it share these traits or risk factors.

 

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

What to Take for Fibromyalgia When Painkillers Aren’t Enough (video)

If pain killers don’t provide pain relief for managing your fibromyalgia, discuss with your doctor what other options are available to you.  There are three FDA-approved drugs on the market now.  They are the anti-convulsant, Lyrica, and Serotonin and Norepinephrine, reuptake inhibitors or SNRI’s like Cymbalta and Savella.  Making certain lifestyle changes can also provide relief when pain killers aren’t working.

Prescription Medications

Lyrica

Lyrica calms down the accelerated nerve signals associated with fibromyalgia, decreasing the pain messages producing discomfort.

Cymbalta

Cymbalta is an anti-depressant that increases levels of Serotonin and Norepinephrine to help control and suppress pain.  Research indicates that increased levels of Serotonin and Norepinephrine help reduce painful nerve signals associated with fibromyalgia.

Savella

Savella also increases the available levels of Serotonin and Norepinephrine thereby reducing pain and improving physical function.

Lifestyle Changes

Choosing positive over negative is a first step you can take for reducing pain.  Switching to an anti-inflammatory whole-food diet, including vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, nuts, legumes, whole grains, healthy fats like Omega-3 Fatty Acid and nutritional supplements may help reduce your pain.  Avoid foods you may be over-sensitive to and keep a food journal to pinpoint those foods.  Other alternative treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy, regular exercise, massage, acupuncture and relaxation techniques, like meditation and yoga.

See your doctor to discuss a treatment plan that works for you.

 

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

 

 

Sam-E and Fibromyalgia Pain (video)

Could Sam-E be Beneficial to You?

Research has found Sam-E relieves symptoms of osteoarthritis and depression.  How it benefits fibromyalgia is mixed.  The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggests benefits could be tied to the anti-depressant effects of Sam-E.  Studies show people using an injectable form of Sam-E experienced reduced pain, fatigue, stiffness and a depressed mood.  Only some people taking it by mouth benefitted from Sam-E.

Check with your doctor to see if Sam-E is right for you.

 

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

How Can I Prevent Fibromyalgia Flare-ups? (video)

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome characterized by chronic, full-body pain and tenderness in the joints, muscles, tendons and other soft tissue.  Researchers aren’t clear what causes it and there is no known cure for the condition.  A few possible triggers have been uncovered and thought to aggravate fibromyalgia in those suffering with the syndrome.

Possible Triggers – It’s possible physical and emotional stress, illness or infection and abnormal pain responses may trigger flare ups.  Some triggers can be avoided by lifestyle changes.  Other triggers are responsive to psychotherapy or managed with medications and complimentary treatments.

Prescription Medications for Managing Fibromyalgia  – There are only three FDA-approved medications for the management of the pain associated with fibromyalgia.  They are:  Cymbalta, Savella and Lyrica.

Lyrica – Lyrica is an anticonvulsant that calms down the accelerated nerve signals associated with fibromyalgia, decreasing the pain messages producing discomfort.

Cymbalta – Cymbalta is an anti-depressant that increases levels of Serotonin and Norepinephrine to help control and suppress pain.  Research indicates that increased levels of Serotonin and Norepinephrine help reduce painful nerve signals associated with fibromyalgia.

Savella – Savella also increases the available levels of Serotonin and Norepinephrine thereby reducing pain and improving physical function.

Alternative Treatments – Yoga, meditation and acupuncture help ease pain for some.  Supplements such as Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin D, Vitamin B Complex, Lysine and Magnesium work for others.  Sometimes people experience pain relief just by eating a healthy diet or soaking in a hot bath.

Each fibromyalgia case is unique.  What works for one person might possibly trigger a flare up in another person.  Work with your doctor to find what preventive therapies work best for you.

 

 

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

Natural Dietary Supplements (video)

Could supplements help treat symptoms of fibromyalgia? 

Research organizations list supplements as a complimentary treatment providing benefits to patients with fibromyalgia, but there is no conclusive research to support the benefits:  Three supplements might help manage the pain: Sam-E, 5-HTP, and capsaicin.  There are no FDA regulations for supplements and there may be limited information about the ingredients, side effects and dosage.

5-HTP or 5 Hydroxy Tryptophan – A supplement made from the seed of an African plant that is said to help raise available levels Serotonin.  The University of Maryland Medical Center has said that 5-HTP can improve fibromyalgia-related pain, anxiety, stiffness and fatigue.  They do note that more studies are needed.

Sam-E – Research has found Sam-E relieves symptoms of osteoarthritis and depression.  It’s still not clear how it benefits fibromyalgia.  The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggests benefits could be tied to the anti-depressant effects of Sam-E.  Studies show people using an injectable form of Sam-E experienced reduced pain, fatigue, stiffness and a depressed mood, but only some people taking it orally benefitted from Sam-E.

Capsaicin – Capsaicin is a chemical providing fire to hot peppers used in topical creams and in high potency 8% patches to block pain messages.  One study found that a single 60 minute application in patients with neuropathic pain provided pain relief for up to 12 weeks.  Talk to your doctor about using over-the-counter creams or the patch.

It is extremely important to make an appointment to speak with your doctor to discuss any supplements you want to try and be sure they work with other medications you are taking.

 

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

Alternative Treatments for Fibromyalgia Pain (video)

In addition to the medications recommended by your physician, there are many alternative treatments for control of fibromyalgia pain.  Here are a few examples of alternative treatments you might want to try:

  1. Acupuncture to reduce muscle pain;
  2. A nice massage to reduce stress and depression;
  3. Physical exercise – very important in managing fibromyalgia pain; 
    1. Water therapy to reduce muscle strain;
    2. Light aerobics; 
    3. Yoga class, while practicing relaxation techniques, to help with depression and sleep issues; 
  4. Experiment with herbs and nutritional supplements to help reduce anxiety and pain; and  
  5. Some people find aroma therapy to be very relaxing, thereby reducing stress.

Discuss with your doctor which alternative treatments you have tried and the affects that resulted. 

 

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

Can Fibromyalgia Go Away? (video)

Medications relieve the pain and discomfort associated with fibromyalgia, but it will not go away on its own.  There is no known cure for fibromyalgia. By following treatment set out by a physician, adopting healthy lifestyle changes and avoiding stress, remission has been known to occur.  Remission can last as long as 2 months before reoccurring.  There is one reported case of a 20 year long remission.

Please make an appointment to see your doctor if you feel you are suffering from fibromyalgia.

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

 

How Physical Therapy Helps Fibromyalgia (video)

Regular exercise is important in managing fibromyalgia.  A physical therapist will create and implement an exercise routine that targets your symptoms using special body therapies and special stretches to relieve tension.  A physical therapist will also help you correct those lifelong bad habits contributing to your pain.

See your doctor to discuss whether a physical therapist is right for you.

 

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

More Energy with Chronic Pain and Fatigue (video)

People with fibromyalgia experience a loss of energy, along with constant pain and chronic fatigue.  There are effective ways of regaining your energy, but you have to be realistic.  Below are 3 tips to regain energy:

No. 1:  Stress Less
If you have less stress, it is less likely pain flare-ups will occur.  This will improve your chances of getting a good night’s rest also.  Acupuncture, acupressure, therapeutic massage, aroma therapy, water therapy, breathing and relaxation techniques and counseling and/or support groups all help reduce stress.

No. 2:  Adopt a Healthy Diet

Your body needs the right fuel to function optimally.  Pain and stiffness reduction can occur by improving your diet.  A whole-food based, anti-inflammatory diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, such as legumes, nuts, whole grains, and healthy fats found in flaxseed, fish, avocadoes and walnuts.  You should avoid eating overly-processed foods, such as white bread, cookies, cakes and crackers.

No. 3: Regular exercise. 

Decrease pain and boost mood with regular aerobic exercise combined with strength training.  You will also experience more energy, less pain and better sleep.  Start out gradually and increase your exercise as your strength increases.  Stress hormones aggravate fibromyalgia symptoms and can be minimized by practicing yoga or tai chi.

For more answers to your fibromyalgia questions, check out other videos in this series.

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

What to Tell Your Doctor About Chronic Pain (video)

It’s critical to discuss your pain symptoms with your doctor, no matter how small, to obtain a proper diagnosis.  A fibromyalgia diagnosis is based on a physical exam and your symptoms.

Use this checklist at your next doctor’s appointment:

  • Exact location of pain: Neck, shoulders, elbows or knees – common tender spots with fibromyalgia
  • Pains that come and go: Not just the pains you are experiencing the day of your appointment
  • Ongoing pains in other parts of your body – also symptoms of fibromyalgia
  • Headaches
  • Painful menstrual periods
  • Digestive problems
  • Sleep habits -Sleepiness during the day – interference with your job or other daily routines

Your doctor needs to know every kind of pain you are experiencing to properly diagnose your symptoms and determine if you are suffering from fibromyalgia.  Make an appointment to see your doctor today.

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

What Kind of Doctor Treats Fibromyalgia? (video)

Fibromyalgia can be difficult to treat, and not all doctors may understand it. You need to find a physician who listens to you, who has treated many cases of fibromyagia, and who has an interest and knowledge in treating it.

General practitioners, neurologists, rheumatologists or pain specialists may be qualified. It’s important to find a doctor who listens to you so you can find a treatment plan that works for you. Ultimately, you may get best results from a team of doctors who communicate with each other and coordinate your care.

Careful management can help you control pain and fatigue, and restore your quality of life.

This video was created by Healthguru.com and Dr. Betty Keller; Dr. Keller practices at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

12 Tips to Reduce Stress and Fibromyalgia Symptoms

12 Simple Tips to Reduce Stress and Increase Fibromyalgia Relief

Reducing stress can help dramatically lessen symptoms of fibromyalgia.  These 12 tips are the same ones that help my fibromyalgia patients enjoy major improvements in their health and happiness:

  1. Get plenty of sleep. The less sleep you get, the more stress affects you.
  2. Eat a whole-food diet; eat at least 5-9 servings of fruit and vegetables everyday. Avoid processed foods.
  3. Practice deep breathing. This can help calm you down. Take slow deep breaths. Inhale to the count of four, hold to the count of one, and exhale to the count of 4. Try taking a few deep breathes and hold for a few seconds. Repeat 3-4 times you should feel more calm and relaxed.
  4. Try meditation on a regular basis. This can help you relax and handle stress. Mediation does not have to be complicated; its purpose is to allow your brain to focus on something calm. Allowing your brain a rest from everyday thoughts and worries. It can be as simple as focusing on a single word like calm. There are a variety of CDs, books, or classes that can help you get started.
  5. Practice Mind Body Exercises. Many people find Mind Body exercise a great way to combine meditation with exercise, Yoga, Tai Chi, Chi Gon, even weight lifting can all help calm the mind while moving the body.
  6. Journaling. Recording your thoughts, not only concerns and problems, but plans, goals, and dreams can help.
  7. Socialize. Spending time with friends and family can also reduce stress. It is important to have a good support system.
  8. Eliminate toxic people and negative relationships, which can cause a lot of stress and can flare your disease.
  9. Volunteer your time and talent to helping others.
  10. Practice time management. Do not overbook yourself. Learn to say no, make sure you have time to do activities and hobbies you enjoy.
  11. Spend time outside. Being out in nature is a good way to relax. It can help decease the production of stress hormones.
  12. Exercise, exercise helps to reduce stress and increase a sense of well being.

These tips may seem simple.  But don’t be fooled: they can help restore your health and well being despite fibromyalgia.  Living well with fibromyalgia means knowing how to keep stress under control in your life.  Feedback from my patients here at the Optimal Wellness Center in New Jersey give the best proof that nutrition and stress management are important in getting lasting relief from the fatigue and pain of this syndrome.

Fibromyalgia and Exercise

There is no question about it, in order to feel better you must have regular exercise.

Multiple studies on patients with fibromyalgia confirm that exercise is beneficial.  Research supports aerobic and strength training reduces symptoms of fibromyalgia, improves fitness, and quality of life.

Many patients find mind body forms of exercise like Yoga, Tai Chi and Chi Gon particularly helpful. Calming the mind help decreases stress hormones that can aggravate symptoms.

Here are some of the ways that physical activities like these help your health and well-being improve:

  • Regular exercise helps prevent heart disease, lowers blood pressure, and helps control weight.
  • It increases energy and happiness while reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Exercising outside is a good way to decrease stress. Connecting with nature can help reduce stress hormones.

If exercise is so good for you then why do so many people hesitate? When you have been suffering with pain from fibromyalgia, you may be convinced that being more active is too hard to do.  It’s hard to embrace the idea of exercise when dealing with health issues.  We’re already in pain and we don’t want to make it worse by forcing ourselves to do something hard and unwelcome.

Working with the right medical professional can help you find ways to add exercise that are truly fun for you.  Here are some things we suggest to our patients at the Optimal Wellness Center to make exercising more enjoyable and something you feel good about doing:

  • Find a friend to exercise with. Take a class together, go on walks or ride bikes.
  • Choose an exercise you really enjoy.
  • Make it convenient exercise close to home or work.
  • Put it in your schedule; look forward to doing something good for yourself.
  • Enjoy it.
  • Try exercising 30 minutes daily.
  • Remember you do not want to over do it.
  • Consult a physician before beginning an exercise program.

When you exercise, you start feeling something else besides stronger and healthier.  Our patients tell us they feel less stress.  They enjoy doing other physical activities that they had not been able to enjoy before.  Pain has less of an impact on your life.  There are many ways to add activities that make you stronger and healthier – ones you may not have considered — and live better in spite of fibromyalgia.

 

Fibromyalgia: Diet Does Matter!

Food has the power to help heal the body.  If you have fibromyalgia it is absolutely essential to eat a healthy balanced diet. In addition many people with fibromyalgia have food sensitivities.  Your diet does matter!

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome, which includes chronic widespread muscle pain.  It is often associated with one or more other symptoms including fatigue, stiffness, insomnia, and irritable bowel.

 A Balanced Approach to Better Fibromyalgia Treatment

Fibromyalgia affects over 2% of the population.  There is no single cause and thus no single treatment that works for everyone.  The best treatment plan uses an integrative approach. combining Western Medicine, Lifestyle changes, including dietary modifications and complementary therapies.

To effectively treat fibromyalgia, one needs to focus on health and develop healthy lifestyle choices.  Finding a balance by developing good eating habits, exercising regularly, thinking positive thoughts and practicing relaxation techniques to reduce stress.

The most important foundation for health is to eat foods that are nutrient rich and provide your body with the fuel to perform optimally.

Diet plays a major role in our body’s ability to heal and in the prevention of disease. Food is medicine, it tells our genes how to express themselves.  Research studies do not support one single eating plan that works for everyone with fibromyalgia.  This is because fibromyalgia is a syndrome and not a specific disease.

Foods to Fight Against Fibromyalgia

Although there is not a single proven diet plan, here are some good guidelines to follow.

Eat a whole food based diet.  This consists of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, legumes, nuts, and whole grains, and healthy fats like omega 3 fatty acids (found in flax seeds, fish, avocados and walnuts.  It is also equally important to minimize overly processed foods like white bread, cookies, cakes and crackers.  Remove these items from your house, if you don’t have them around you can’t eat them. Remember your body needs the right fuel to function optimally.

Several studies with fibromyalgia patients have shown improvement in symptoms, less pain and stiffness when eating diets containing lots of in fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients.  Antioxidants have anti-inflammatory properties and are important nutrients for maintaining health.

Antioxidants neutralize free radicals that can cause damage to your body. Free radicals are formed when the body converts food to energy and also formed when the body processes chemicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules, which can damage DNA. Having enough antioxidants in your diet is essential to help prevent disease.

Phytonutrients, which essentially means plant nutrients, are the active substances in plants responsible for their color, flavor and resistance to disease.  Scientist have found that these phytonutrients are important for humans to help the body function optimally. Fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and teas are the richest sources of phytonutrients.

Additional studies have shown that some fibromyalgia patients benefit from a whole food vegetarian diet. These diets are even richer in phytonutrients and antioxidants.

The bottom line, eat whole foods, lots of fruits and vegetables ( 5-9 servings per day) Lean proteins (mainly plant based), legumes, nuts, whole grains and healthy fats. Juicing is a good way to increase fruits and vegetables in to your diet.

Food Sensitivities

Some people with Fibromyalgia have food sensitivities; many symptoms of fibromyalgia such as fatigue, pain, stiffness, insomnia and headaches can be worsened by food.

It is important to listen to your body and pay attention to your fibromyalgia symptoms so that you will know what foods make you feel worse. The most common cause of food sensitivity includes the following:

  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Soy
  • Corn

Additional Possible foods that can cause sensitivities:

  • Coffee
  • Meat
  • Fish/shellfish
  • Chocolate
  • Tea
  • Alcohol
  • Citrus fruit
  • Sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Food additives
  • Peanuts

*Nightshade vegetables, potatoes, tomatoes peppers and eggplant. Some people find a reduction in symptoms when these vegetables are eliminated from their diet. However since these are also filled with a lot of nutrients if they do not cause a flare keep them in your diet.

Find Out What to Eliminate

The only way to really know if you are sensitive to one of these foods is to eliminate one at a time.  If your symptoms are reduced, reintroduce the food and see if the symptoms increase again.  It is best to try eliminating only one food at a time. An alternative is to eliminate several foods at once then slowly reintroduce one food at a time adding a new food back every few days.  Keeping a food diary may be helpful, allowing you to track your symptoms along with what you are eating. This may help you identify which foods you may be sensitive to.

It is also important to have variety in your diet. Eating the same things too frequently may cause you to develop sensitivity to that food. Variety is a good way to provide your body with the essential nutrients it needs to function optimally. You may find that certain food only increase symptoms if eaten too frequently but are tolerated on occasion.

What You Should Avoid

Although there is not a single dietary plan that works for everyone certain food additives when eliminated reduce symptoms in a significant number of people.

Aspartame.  (NutraSweet)

Aspartame considered an excitotoxin and may stimulate certain neurons. It is felt that aspartame may cause amplification of pain signals. People with fibromyalgia may have overactive pain receptors and are even more susceptible to aspartame stimulation.  The bottom line is many people with fibromyalgia find reduction in symptoms when they avoid aspartame.

MSG

MSG is a food additive also thought to be an excitotoxin, which could cause amplification of pain signals.

Nitrates

Nitrates found in bacon, lunchmeats like ham and bologna may also cause pain signal amplification.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulate that can make fatigue worse when it wears off and can also increase anxiety and cause or worsen insomnia. If you cannot completely eliminate caffeine then try and limit your daily intake.

 

Fibromyalgia Treatment: Acupuncture is Effective in Reducing Symptoms

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that causes chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain.  It is often associated with one or more other symptoms such as fatigue, stiffness, and insomnia.  The pain of Fibromyalgia syndrome (also known as FMS) typically includes particular areas of increased sensitivity called tender points.

Fibromyalgia affects up to 2% of the population.  The best treatment approach is integrative combining Western medicine, therapeutic lifestyle changes and complementary therapies.  Complementary therapy, like acupuncture is effective in reducing symptoms of fibromyalgia.  An important study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings showed that acupuncture reduced symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia including reduction in pain, fatigue, and anxiety.  In addition, it was found to be as effective as some medications.  Using the FIO score (a standard measure of fibromyalgia activity), acupuncture reduced the score by 7 points.  This clinical benefit is comparable to pharmacological interventions such as tricyclic antidepressants (a decrease of 7 points) and the pain medication Tramadol (a decrease of 6 points)

According to the lead author, Dr. David P. Martin, M.D., PhD, “We found that acupuncture significantly improved symptoms of fibromyalgia.  Symptomatic improvement was not restricted to pain relief and was most significant for fatigue and anxiety.”

It is believed that acupuncture may actually block pain impulses from reaching the brain.  Acupuncture increases production of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers.  The gentle insertion of acupuncture needles at specific sites causes a measurable release of endorphins into the blood stream.  These natural pain killers help decrease pain. Repeated treatments are felt to up-regulate endorphins causing increased production of endorphins and thus a sustained reduction in pain.

Acupuncture is felt to increase a patient’s pain threshold, which is normally low in patients with fibromyalgia.  It also increases the production of neurotransmitters, which carry impulses between nerve cells.  Acupuncture increases serotonin, which is also typically low in fibromyalgia patients.  Seratonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for “feeling happy”.  It controls mood by helping with sleep, calming anxiety and reducing depression.

Neurotransmitters stimulate or inhibit nerve impulses in the brain that relay sensations such as pain.  Elevated levels of neurotransmitters can increase a patient’s tolerance to pain.

Benefits of Acupuncture For Fibromyalgia Patients

  • Less pain
  • Better sleep
  • More energy
  • Relaxation / Stress Reduction
  • Anxiety reduction
  • Reduction of depression
  • Possible boost to the immune system
  • Better overall health

Acupuncture is a safe and effective way of reducing symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia Treatment with Acupuncture in Bergen County, NJ

Dr. Betty Keller specializes in acupuncture, combined with Western medicine in treating fibromyalgia.  Her medical practice is in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, serving surrounding areas and Bergen County.

To request an appointment to visit her office at 777 Franklin Ave | Franklin Lakes, NJ 07417, please contact us:  201-485-7930.

Ease Fibromyalgia Pain Naturally: 6 Quick Tips

What can you do to help ease the pain of fibromyalgia naturally?

The chronic pain of fibromyalgia affects about 1 in 50 Americans. Pain is the most distinguishing characteristic of fibromyalgia.   Certain triggers can make symptoms worse.  Lack of sleep, extreme cold or heat, mental stress, illness and certain types of physical activity.  Here are a few ideas to help reduce symptoms.

  1. Eat a healthy diet.  Studies show the best diet to follow is a Mediterranean diet.  Whole foods, fruits vegetables, legumes, nuts, lean protein, and omega 3 fats. Minimize eating processed foods.
  2. Make sure you get enough sleep. Try to get between 7 to 8 hours a night.
  3. Exercise. It is important to exercise when you have fibromyalgia. Make sure not to over exert yourself.
  4. Practice relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga, deep breathing, acupuncture These techniques can help reduce muscle tension.
  5. Be body aware.  Notice if you start to feel your muscles tense up, before the pain sets in try relaxation techniques to ease the aim before it becomes severe.
  6. Challenge automatic negative thoughts.  Out thoughts dictate our emotions and our emotions especially negative ones can cause headaches, muscle tension, pain and future. Choose thoughts that make you feel good. Thoughts that make you feel good, calm and relaxed.

Remember, to reduce fibromyalgia pain:

  • Eat healthy
  • Get enough sleep
  • Exercise daily
  • Reduce stress

Dr. Betty Keller specializes in the treatment of fibromyalgia and the New Jersey Optimal Wellness Center  She works with patients from New York City, Northern NJ and Bergen County NJ to lower reduce pain and promote health. Therapeutic approaches combine traditional medicine, dietary changes, nutritional supplements, and acupuncture.  Patients receive effective, personalized treatment plans to prevent chronic disease.  For an in-person consultation in her Franklin Lakes, NJ office, contact <strong>201-485-7930.</strong>