CFS/FMS acts as a "circuit breaker," with the hypothalamus decreasing its function to protect the individual in the face of what is perceived to be an overwhelming stress (just like blowing a fuse/circuit breaker in a house). This center controls sleep, hormones, temperature, and blood flow/blood pressure/sweating/gut function. When you don't sleep deeply, your immune system also stops working properly. In addition, if your muscles do not have enough energy, they will get stuck in the shortened position, triggering muscle pain (think rigor mortis). When this muscle pain becomes chronic, it can trigger the numerous other types of pain seen in fibromyalgia.
Your "energy crisis" can be caused by any of a number of infections, stresses or injuries.
Some of you had your illness caused by an infection. In this situation, you can often give the time that your illness began almost to the day. This is also the case in those of you who had an injury (sometimes very mild) that was enough to disrupt your sleep or autonomic function, and trigger this process. In others, the illness had a more gradual onset. This may have been associated with hormonal deficiencies (e.g., low thyroid, estrogen, testosterone, cortisone, etc.) despite normal blood tests. In others, it may be associated with chronic stress, antibiotic use with secondary yeast overgrowth, and/or nutritional deficiencies. Indeed, we have found dozens of common causes and factors that contribute to these syndromes.
Understanding this helps us understand the symptom complex seen in CFS/Fibromyalgia. Restoring energy production so that your hypothalamic "circuit breaker" turns back on, and eliminating what blew your fuse in the first place, also gives us many ways to effectively treat you!
Diagnosing CFS and Fibromyalgia
Although there are dozens of health tests that can be performed that will reveal abnormalities that indicate fibromyalgia, I don't find any of them necessary for making the diagnosis. The combination of inability to sleep despite being exhausted, feeling brain fogged, and experiencing widespread pain is generally enough to indicate fibromyalgia. The health organizations CDC and ACR have established a checklist of criteria that can assess the possibility that you have either of these illnesses. If you'd like to see what this checklist predicts for you, take the CFS/FMS Checklist quiz here at our site.
Although medical testing is not needed to make the diagnosis, very thorough testing is needed to determine the underlying causes of the illness in order to design an effective treatment protocol.
How Do I Get Well? The S.H.I.N.E.® Protocol
A half-century of work by Professor Janet Travell, the White House physician for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and author of the Trigger Point Manual showed that the same problems causing hypothalamic suppression resulted in muscles getting stuck in the shortened position. Chronic muscle shortening then causes myofascial and fibromyalgia pain. As Professor Travell laid the groundwork for effective treatments of these processes, our research team has dedicated our published study to her memory.S.H.I.N.E.®—A Comprehensive Approach to Optimizing EnergyTo effectively resolve CFS and fibromyalgia, five main areas of health have to be tended to. I summarize these with the acronym "S.H.I.N.E.®," which stands for Sleep, Hormones, Immunity/Infections, Nutrition and Exercise as able.In my 40 years of clinical experience treating CFS/FMS, and in our landmark published research on CFS/FMS (published in the Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), I have found that the S.H.I.N.E.® approach is successful in the vast majority of patients. S.H.I.N.E.® identifies five key areas related to the body that, when addressed in combination, provide a blueprint for promoting optimal energy. Tending to these can help you maintain healthy energy levels when you are well, and can help support recovery when dealing with CFS and fibromyalgia.SleepGet adequate sleep, preferably eight to nine hours a night. Sleep replenishes your body's energy and helps heal your muscles. Inadequate sleep will leave you exhausted and in pain. Because your sleep center isn't working in CFS/FMS, aggressive sleep support is necessary.HormonesHormone deficiencies can contribute to fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Unfortunately blood testing misses the large majority of people with hormonal deficiencies in these illnesses. The large majority of people with fibromyalgia should do a treatment trial with thyroid. In addition, if you get irritable when hungry, adrenal support is needed. Most men with CFS/FMS find that their testosterone level is in the lowest 30% of the population. If a woman's fibromyalgia symptoms are worse around her menses, estrogen and progesterone support may be helpful. Low blood pressure (hypotension) is also a major contributor to CFS/FMS. Called orthostatic intolerance, this occurs when gravity causes your blood to pool in your legs when you stand up, leaving you easily exhausted and brain fogged. Download this simple quiz to find out if you have orthostatic intolerance.Immunity/InfectionsUnderlying viral, bacterial, bowel, sinus and yeast infections are common and can be contributing causes of CFS/FMS, or even the result of it.NutritionTo maintain normal health and optimal energy levels you need to make sure you get an optimal balance of nutrients, particularly as nutritional deficiencies can result from CFS/FMS. Vitamin B-12, magnesium, acetyl L-carnitine, glutathione, as well as your basic A, B, C and D vitamins are especially vulnerable to depletion.ExerciseExercise as able. After 10 weeks on the first four steps above, you should be able to slowly increase your amount of exercise without being wiped out the next day. Don't overdo it trying to follow "normal" exercise recommendations, as doing too much can result in Post Exertional Malaise, a condition that can last for days that leaves you feeling as though you were hit by a truck. But by following the S.H.I.N.E.® protocol, you should gradually begin to condition.
Watch the below video of Dr. T's presentation on S.H.I.N.E.® (approximately 50 minutes)click on the link below to see Dr. T's Video.
"If you feel that you may be suffering from any kind of fatigue, that's your body telling you that there may be something wrong. Start taking your health into your own hands and be your own health advocate. I had no choice but to do it and it was the best decision I ever made." ~Tracy
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