One of the most common dilemmas I personally see in my Mesa, AZ chiropractic clinic when treating my fibromyalgia patients is the fatigue factor. I do not believe that I have ever had a fibromyalgia/ chiropractic patient that did not complain of fatigue at some point in the recent past. But is the fatigue problem caused by fibromyalgia or is it adrenal fatique that my chiropractic patient has? Is there a way to differentiate between fibromyalgia and adrenal fatigue or is it possible that they are one and the same?
Let us begin by trying to understand the function of the adrenal glands. As a chiropractic physician, college instructor and clinical nutritionist I have come to better understand the importance of these two, tiny glands. As I share this information, and if you have fibromyalgia, please think about your specific symptoms and diagnoses. Do you see any possible relationships between your fibromyalgia and adrenal fatigue?
The adrenals glands are hormone producing glands that serve many functions such as (but not lmited to):
Blood sugar control – When blood sugar falls to unsafe levels, the adrenals release hormones that cause the blood sugar to rise, and increase energy. But being consistently under stress takes a toll on the adrenal glands, and eventually, they run out of steam, and stop producing sufficient hormones.
Sodium and water regulation in the body.
Male hormones, androgens, and female hormones, estrogens, are secreted in minimal amounts in both sexes.
Adrenaline, Epinephrine and Norepinephrine production.
Fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism.
Now, there are some in the medical field that do not support the theory that the adrenals can become fatigued. From the mouth of Todd B. Nippoldt, M.D. of www.mayoclinic.com:
” The unproven theory behind adrenal fatigue is that your adrenal glands are unable to keep pace with the demands of perpetual fight-or-flight arousal. As a result, they can’t produce quite enough of the hormones you need to feel good. It’s frustrating to have persistent symptoms your doctor can’t readily explain. But accepting a medically unrecognized diagnosis from an unqualified practitioner could be worse. Unproven remedies for so-called adrenal fatigue may leave you feeling sicker, while the real cause — such as depression or fibromyalgia — continues to take its toll.”
Dr. Nippoldt demonizes adrenal fatigue and then suggests that it may be just fibromyalgia or depression. (How often has a doctor suggested that you problem was “all in your head”?) As a chiropractic physician with over 22 years of clinical experience, I find this comment somewhat amusing and at the same time very condescending! It was not that long ago that the medical profession had the very same impression of a “unrecognized diagnosis” of Fibromyalgia Syndrome. May I suggest that these two separate “diagnoses” may actually be one and the same or, they can be two separate illnesses? Instead of ignoring the possibility that adrenal fatigue exists, the answer lies in treating both when necessary.
non-refreshing sleep (you get sufficient hours of sleep, but wake fatigued)
overwhelmed by or unable to cope with stressors
feeling rundown or overwhelmed
craving salty and sweet foods
you feel most energetic in the evening
a feeling of not being restored after a full night’s sleep or having sleep disturbances
low stamina, slow to recover from exercise
slow to recover from injury, illness or stress
difficulty concentrating, brain fog
low immune function
food or environmental allergies
premenstrual syndrome or difficulties that develop during menopause
consistent low blood pressure
extreme sensitivity to cold
Here is a long list of fibromyalgia symptoms from www.healingwell.com (do you see any similarities?): 1. PAIN- in the muscle: often described as aching, burning, throbbing, gnawing, shooting, tingling. Almost always exacerbated by exercise and may or may not be present at rest. Can be migratory and differing from day to day. 2. FATIGUE- From feeling tired to exhausted and requiring rest periods during the day. 3. SLEEP DISTURBANCE- not being able to fall asleep and or able to stay asleep. Unrefreshing sleep patterns ” feels like I haven’t slept.” 4. PARESTHESIA- numbness or tingling. ( non dermatomal) 5. DEPRESSION- most often reactive as with chronic pain condition. 6. ANXIETY- may include panic attacks. 7. PERSONALITY CHANGES- usually a worsening of a previous tendency. 8. MOOD SWINGS 9. SUBJECTIVE SWELLING OF EXTREMITIES- i.e. feels swollen but no-one can find anything. 10. HEADACHES- tension and or migraine. 11. COGNITIVE FUNCTION PROBLEMS: calculation difficulties, memory disturbances, spatial disorientation, difficulty with concentration, short term memory loss. 12. FREQUENT UNUSUAL NIGHTMARES- or being unable to dream. 13. DYSTONIA- stiff muscles due to involuntary contracture. Difficulty in moving tongue to speak. 14. FREQUENTLY SAYING WRONG WORDS 15. BURNING SENSATIONS 16. LIGHT HEADEDNESS- “Fibro Fog”, spaced out, cloudy. 17. MORNING STIFFNESS 18. EASY BRUISING 19. MILD BUTTERFLY RASH- (LUPUS TYPE) May be photo sensitive. 20. NEUROGENIC INFLAMMATION- rashes, may be severe itching. NI causes the symptoms and signs of Dermatographia. 21. DISEQUILIBRIUM- Vertigo 22. MUSCLE WEAKNESS- variable with no “objective” abnormality to formal testing. 23. SCIATICA- like pain 24. PHOTOPHOBIA- Intolerance of bright lights. 25. ALTERATION OF TASTE, SMELL and HEARING. 26. LOW FREQUENCY, SENSORINEURAL HEARING LOSS. 27. DECRESED PAINFUL SOUND THRESHOLD. 28. TINNITUS- ringing in the ears. 29. OCCASIONAL EXAGGERATED NYSTAGMUS- involuntary rapid movementof the eye ball. 30. CHANGES IN VISUAL ACUITY- impaired function of the smooth muscle used for focus as well as skeletal muscles for tracking. 31. INTOLERANCE OF ALCOHOL 32. ENHANCEMENT OF MEDICATION SIDE EFFECTS 33. INTOLERANCE OF PREVIOUSLY TOLERATED MEDICATIONS 34. WEIGHT CHANGES- usually gained due to the lack of exercise through pain and or tricyclic antidepressants 35. RESTLESS LEGS 36. HEIGHTENED AWARENESS- of symptoms of HYPOGLYCEMIA 9 when blood sugar falls) 37. POSSIBLE CARBOHYDRATE INTOLERANCE 38. SYMPTOMS OF IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME (I.B.S.) 39. HEARTBURN- secondary to I.B.S. 40. SUB-NORMAL TEMPERATURE 41. NIGHT SWEATS. 42. SENSITIVE TO TEMPERATURE EXTREMES 43. HEART PALPITATIONS 44. BREATHING DFFFICULTIES 45. HEART MURMUR-Mitral Valve Prolapse appears to be more symptomatic in FM than normal. 46. IMPOTENCE- reactive and occasionally. 47. SEVERE PREMENSTRUAL SYNDROME 48. FREQUENT VAGINAL YEAST INFECTIONS. 49. MUSCLE SPASM- twitching. 50. NON-CARDIAC CHEST PAIN- which may simulate cardiac disorder. 51. PELVIC PAIN. 52. ABDOMINAL WALL PAIN. 53. DRY EYES AND MOUTH. 54. TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT DISORDER- usually due to abnormal muscle tone. 55. RAYNAUD’S- like symptoms. 56. CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME-possible related condition. 57. HAIR LOSS-secondary to psychological stress from FM. 58. VULVODYNIA- Vulvar discomfort or pain, burning, stinging and irritation. 59. PLANTAR ARCH-or heel pain. Exacerbated in FM.
In my Mesa, AZ chiropractic clinic, I specifically treat the cause and the symptoms of both fibromyalgia and adrenal fatigue. We look for the possible causes of one or both illnesses and then formulate a chiropractic and nutritional treatment program for the fibromyalgia, adrenal fatigued chiropractic patient.
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