Chronic pain can be caused by dysfunctional nerves and or inflammation.
It may last for weeks, months, or even years. The original cause may have been an injury, structural abnormality, repetitive use/motion trauma or an infection, such as the shingles virus. Sometimes a clear cause remains undiscovered. Pain starts in receptor nerve cells found beneath the skin and in organs throughout the body. These receptor cells send messages along nerve pathways to the spinal cord, which then carries the message to the brain.
When pain becomes such a problem that it interferes with your life's work and normal activities, you may become the victim of a vicious circle. Pain may cause you to become preoccupied with the pain, depressed, and irritable. Depression and irritability often lead to insomnia and weariness, leading to more irritability, depression, stress, and pain.
Fibromyalgia affects is a chronic painful condition affecting the muscles and soft tissue in as many as 4 million Americans 18 and older. Symptoms include chronic muscle pain, fatigue, sleep problems, and painful tender (trigger) points.
It is not one condition but a compilation of different syndromes; therefore, one treatment does not fit all patients. More than that, treatment of two patients with similar fibromyalgia symptoms may be drastically different due to different underlying triggers.
Dr.Anne Louise Oaklander, MD, PhD, director of the Nerve Injury Unit in the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Neurology says, “Fibromyalgia is too complex for a 'one size fits all' explanation.
However, there are some basics that apply to most fibromyalgia patients. Glutamate and GABA (Gamma-Amino Butyric acid) are the most abundant neurotransmitters in the central nervous system, and especially in the cerebral cortex, which is where thinking occurs, and sensations are interpreted. In people with fibromyalgia there is a GABA deficiency and excess of other neurotransmitters such as, glutamate, dopamine, and norepinephrine. They are all supposed to be in balance.
For instance, glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter and when it connects to nearby cells, it causes them to activate and send a nerve impulse. GABA on the other hand does the opposite – when it attaches to another cell, it tells it to stop and not to send an impulse. Therefore, with a deficiency in GABA, nerve cells can fire easily and far too often.
Normally, the brain pumps out all the GABA we need. Unfortunately, due to a poor diet, exposure to environmental toxins, or other factors, levels of GABA may become depleted. When the body fails to produce enough GABA, or utilize the amounts it has, tension, anxiety and pain can escalate.
Findings published April 2017 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation show that within the dorsal root ganglia (DRG), the neurotransmitter GABA can interfere with the production of pain signals. Gabapentin is a drug often prescribed for chronic pain. It is an ‘analogue’ of GABA and manufactured to mimic the effects of GABA, however it does not appear to affect the same receptors in the brain, is not converted into GABA and has no effect on the amount of GABA in the brain.
The human body also contains a specialized system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is involved in regulating a variety of functions including sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response. It is literally a bridge between body and mind. Endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors in your nervous system and play an important part in regulating inflammation. They act like someone stepping on the brakes when inflammation begins. Your ECS regulates how quickly neurotransmitters are being released, slowing them down or speeding them up as necessary to return to and maintain balance.
According to a study published in the June 2012, “Journal of Experimental Medicine”, researchers found that CBD significantly reduced chronic inflammation and pain administered to mice and rats. In a different study from the “European Journal of Pain” showed, using an animal model, CBD applied topically on the skin helped lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis.
Researchers suggest CBD might counteract the hypersensitivity of cells surrounding nerves in people with chronic pain, including those with fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia syndrome affects the muscles and soft tissue. Symptoms include chronic muscle pain, fatigue, sleep problems, and painful tender (trigger) points.
A Michigan Medicine study published in the June 4, 2021 “The Journal of Pain”, a significant number of people with fibromyalgia are finding an effective replacement in CBD-containing products. The U-M team found that more than 70% of people with fibromyalgia substituted CBD for addictive opioids or other pain medications. Of these participants, many reported that they either decreased use or stopped taking opioids and other pain medications as a result. CBD oil has been so effective in decreasing discomfort/pain, it has been approved in Canada for multiple sclerosis and cancer pain.
Low Vitamin D levels can cause muscle pain and weakness. Studies show that as many as 25% of people with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome have low vitamin D levels, and that supplementation may help lower pain levels in some cases. One study shows that vitamin D-deficient people need twice as much narcotic pain reliever as non-deficient people.
A study reported from the Orthopedic Hospital Vienna, researchers found between the first and the 25th week on Vitamin D supplementation, the treatment group improved significantly on a scale of physical role functioning, while the placebo group remained unchanged.
Your Vitamin D blood level should be between 45 & 60. Get it tested if you haven’t already and check the numbers. Don’t settle for a report of normal or low from the doctor’s office.
A nervine normalizes the functions of the nervous system, soothing and relieving tension. A neuro-trophorestorative is something herbs can do which pharmaceutical drugs don’t. It restores optimal function and structure of an organ or tissue. With focus on restoration of the neurons. An anxiolytic relieves anxiety. Not all anxiolytic herbs do this in the same way. A spasmolytic relieves or decreases muscle spasms in smooth or skeletal muscle.
Nerve Support Formula (Woodstock Herbal) a combination formula containing Oat seed, Skullcap, St. John’s wort, the most useful herbs to restore and calm the nerves.
Injurecov (Vinco) For Inflammation, ingredients: Ginger Root Std. Extract (5% Gingerols), Turmeric Rhizome Std. Extract (95% Curcuminoids), Boswellia Serrata Gum Resin (40% Boswellic Acid), DL-Phenylalanine (DLPA), Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), Collagen (Type II), DGL Licorice Root, Dicalcium Phosphate, Stearic Acid, Modified Cellulose Gum, and Silicon Dioxide.
Muscle Tranq (Vinco) 1-2 capsules before bed is a natural muscle relaxer. Most fibromyalgia sufferers sleep very tight, stressing the nervous system and muscles and as a result suffer from lack of sleep.
GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) 250mg to 500mg once or twice a day, is an amino acid and a neurotransmitter, a type of chemical responsible for carrying signals from a nerve cell to another cell.
HEMPLETS CBD™ (Future Pharm) is designed to deliver a single potent dose of 30 mg CBD that is THC free in a chewable oral tablet. Liposomal Technology is an innovative delivery system providing increased absorption and 8 times greater bioavailability for CBD’s active ingredients. Liposomes are a protective lipid layer (very specific ‘vesicles’ or bubbles) modified to carry either fat-soluble or water soluble molecules. When the liposome merges with the lipid bilayer of the cell membrane, it can deliver its contents directly to specific cells in the body. Chew 1 tablet once or twice a day with 6 oz water between meals or before bed or as directed by your healthcare practitioner. The longer you take CBD the better the effects.
Extremely gentle massage with experienced therapists is very beneficial and most fibromyalgia patients tell me works wonders for them.
As stated earlier, fibromyalgia is a complex syndrome where diet, hormone balance, lifestyle, stress, sleep and potentially numerous other factors need to be addressed. Consistency is the key! Be diligent every day for at least 3 months to begin feeling a noticeable improvement!
Many of these suggestions can also be applied to other chronic pain problems. For specific help for your health concerns In-office and Telephone appointments are available at the Tree of Life Wellness Center Inc. (508-336-4242).
Jane Jansen Holistic Practitioner
Host Holistic Healthline Radio