7 Steps to Fibromyalgia Relief

  • Do you feel misunderstood when seeking relief from the muscle and joint pain and fatigue that characterize fibromyalgia?
  • Do you hear advice from sources you question to be reliable?
  • Does there seem to be conflicting advice to achieve symptom relief?

We can help you take a close look at your diet and share with you the most studied and potentially determinative foods and substances which may have a positive impact on how you feel.

Fibromyalgia affects up to 4% of the population and, given no known treatment which is universally effective, it is no surprise that people have turned to dietary methods for symptomatic relief of widespread muscle and joint pain and fatigue.

Existing scientific evidence does not point to any one dietary plan as helping all affected individuals, suggesting differing underlying mechanisms. Also, coexisting health conditions such as gout, gluten intolerance, and restless legs syndrome have their own dietary requirements.

If you eliminate certain foods, however, you may find relief. Try to eliminate:

  • Aspartame (NutraSweet). It may open the NMDA chronic pain receptor in the brain, found to be overly active in these patients.
  • MSG and other additives. They can intensify pain symptoms. Like aspartame, MSG is an excitotoxin and may elevate NMDA receptor activity.
  • Sugar, fructose, and other simple carbohydrates. Strictly limiting these has helped some patients. No clear evidence exists, however, that cutting out these food will help fibromyalgia symptoms directly, but it will improve the symptoms of chronic yeast infection, a secondary contributor to symptoms. Excess carbohydrate and sugar consumption (especially white, refined sugars and carbohydrates) is also known to increase fatigue, a common symptom.
  • Caffeine, including chocolate and colas (and other sugared, caloric drinks). The secondary fatigue generated can be substantial; the good news is that improvement can be seen within days of cessation.
  • Yeast and gluten. Yeast fosters overgrowth of yeast fungus. Gluten intake can exacerbate gluten intolerance, a disorder highly associated with fibromyalgia.
  • Dairy. Eliminating dairy foods benefits some people.
  • Red meats. Minimize your intake. There is some evidence that this may reduce symptoms of arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis, and similar symptoms in fibromyalgia.
  • Nightshade plants: tomatoes, chili and bell peppers, potatoes, and eggplants. These can have inflammatory effects in some types of arthritis.

In general, a heart-healthy diet and regular exercise is always generally beneficial, especially a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids.

Fibromyalgia Basics

  • 3 to 6 million Americans have fibromyalgia, of whom 80% are women. Risk factors include age between 20 and 50 years, simultaneous connective tissue disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren syndrome or systemic lupus, and family history.
  • Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder of muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons with symptoms of muscle pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbance often described as similar to persistent influenza. Inflammation does not play a significant role in this disease; women tend to complain of diffuse pain while men tend to have facial or other localized symptoms.
  • Muscle pain may be mild or severe and commonly involves the neck, upper back, shoulders, chest, or thighs and may be burning, throbbing, aching, or stabbing in nature. It is often better during activity. Tender points often are located in the neck, back, knee, elbow, shoulder, and hip. Sleeplessness may result from restless legs or arms, sleep apnea, or bruxism (grinding of teeth).
  • A diagnosis of fibromyalgia by American Academy of Rheumatology standards demands presence of 11 of 18 tender points throughout the body; others accept somewhat more lax criteria for diagnosis.
  • Cause is unknown; suggestions include lack of sleep, trauma, viral or bacterial infection, and abnormal production of pain-related brain chemicals.
  • Treatment is multidisciplinary and there is no one best treatment. Exercise, aerobic and stretching, is a mainstay, as are pain medications useful in arthritis. Physical therapy can help, as can maintaining proper posture and relaxation techniques, yoga and other stress-reducing, muscle-relaxing activity.

Please contact us to speak with one of our expert Dietitians for support and to create a food plan to address your specific dietary needs regarding fibromyalgia or any other dietary-related health concern you may have. The Nutrition Counseling Specialists