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Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) affects 3-6 million individuals of which 90% are women between ages 40 and 60 years. It is the 3rd most prevalent rheumatologic disorder after osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.


The word “fibromyalgia” is a combination of Latin roots “fibro” (connective tissue), “my” (muscle), “al” (pain), and “gia” (condition of). The word syndrome simply means a group of signs and symptoms that occur together which characterize a particular abnormality.


FMS is not a new syndrome as it was first described in 1816. It has been called different names, including: myalgia, fibrositis, and soft tissue rheumatism, among others. In 1987, the American Medical Association (AMA) recognized FMS as a true illness and a major cause of disability. The American College of Rheumatology outlined the diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia in 1990.


The diagnosis of FMS is given when no specific underlying cause can be found for the following set of signs and symptoms. A complaint of wide-spread muscle pain on both sides of the body, above and below the waist for at least 3 months duration. In addition, midline body pain on the spine or chest must also be present. A physical examination that reveals at least 11 or 18 specific tender points on the body confirms the suspected diagnosis. Additional symptoms include tension headache, generalized stiffness, sleep disorders, debilitating fatigue and a high incidence of irritable bowel syndrome. Depression and menstrual pain are also frequently reported.


The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, although many patients report some traumatic physical or emotional event prior to the onset of their pain. Proposed causes for fibromyalgia include lack of physical fitness, sleep deprivation, chronic muscle spasm, nervous system dysfunction, various hormonal imbalances, viral infections, aluminum toxicity, nutritional deficiencies as well as impaired function of the digestive system.


Conventional medical treatment typically involves prescription anti-depressants, corticosteroids, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). The prolonged use of these medications should be avoided as they have potentially serious side-effects and they can also be addictive.


Several other alternative non-drug therapies have recently shown promise in the treatment and management of fibromyalgia syndrome. Patient education and counseling can be effective in relieving the patient’s depression, anxiety and anger as well as dealing more directly with stress reduction. Moderate aerobic exercise and stretching are necessary to reduce muscle wasting. A supervised detoxification program along with dietary modification can improve digestive function.


The use of various nutrients including: malic acid, magnesium, manganese, and anti-oxidants have been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of fibromyalgia. A more natural regimen may also include the use of herbs. Passionflower, valerian root, and chamomile possess relaxing properties that have been proven to be very effective in relieving muscle tension and inducing sleep. A strong rehabilitation approach that utilizes chiropractic adjustments, coupled with massage and physical therapy may help patients return to their normal activities of daily living.


The best recipe for relief of fibromyalgia would appear to be a combination of patient education, rest, stress reduction, moderate aerobic exercise, stretching, nutritional intervention, and chiropractic care.




For an appointment with Dr. Komsky, please call (813) 935-8300.


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