Fibromyalgia Pain And It’s Effect On Pregnancy

fibromyalgia pain

Are you suffering from fibromyalgia pain? It is estimated that fibromyalgia affects 3-6% of the world population with women in the childbearing years being the most affected. Fibromyalgia can make it more difficult to get pregnant and it can create some problems during pregnancy.

Ideally, you would want to get to the root cause of fibromyalgia before becoming pregnant. Fibromyalgia can be caused by;

hyperthyroid and fibromyalgia

Hypothyroidism And Fibromyalgia

Hypothyroidism is very common in people with fibromyalgia. Coincidentally or not, fibromyalgia increased when changes were made in the diagnosis of hypothyroidism. Before 1970, low thyroid function was a clinical diagnosis, based on symptoms. However, now it is based on a single blood test, TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). The problem is that one can have a normal TSH and be in a hypothyroid state.

Before pregnancy, insist on a full thyroid panel. Even if your TSH is normal. Look for any hypothyroid symptoms you may have such as;

  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Brittle nails
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Depression
  • Dry skin
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Hair loss
  • Low blood pressure
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Poor memory
  • Irritability
  • Muscle weakness
  • Puffy eyes
  • Inability to concentrate

Nutritional tests would also be a good idea. Catching these problems before pregnancy will improve your chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy and baby.

But What If You Are Already Pregnant?

Well first, congratulations! Second, don’t panic, because there are some things you can try to help manage fibromyalgia during pregnancy. We want to support and focus on the root cause.

nutritional Deficiency

Nutritional Deficiencies

The first thing to do is ensure a healthy diet . Eat real food and cook as much as you can from scratch. Reduce or eliminate sugar and refined grains. Get leafy greens in every day. Whole eggs, nuts, red palm oil (excellent source of vitamin E), and liver (once a week). When pregnant, food is the safest route for nutrients. 

Vitamins

You want to ensure adequate fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. You need to eat animal foods to get vitamins A (liver is the best source for A) and D. The best source of vitamin D is the sun. So, get outside every day that you can without sunscreen for at least 20 minutes. Vitamin K is found in leafy greens and a form called K2 is found in natto, a fermented soy food, and full fat dairy foods. These nutrients support the thyroid and a healthy inflammatory response.

Water-soluble vitamins are important as well, particularly riboflavin (B2), B6, folate, and B12. Eating the leafy greens will provide plenty of folate, but B2, B6, and B12 are best from animal foods (B12 is only found in animal foods); just one reason liver is so good; it’s nature’s multivitamin.  

Minerals

Minerals like zinc, selenium, magnesium, and iodine are likely to be deficient and they are critical for thyroid health and can help with fatigue.

  • Animal foods will provide zinc, selenium, and iodine.
  • Brazil nuts are also a good source of selenium, though they vary in content depending on the soil.
  • Seafood and seaweed are rich in iodine, but care must be taken due to heavy metal contamination. A good way to get iodine is with Maine Coast organic kelp flakes.
  • Avocados, nuts, seeds, and dark chocolate are good sources of magnesium as well as an Epsom salt bath.

One risk that does increase with fibromyalgia is intrauterine growth restriction where the baby doesn’t grow at the normal rate in the womb. Zinc deficiency may contribute to that risk so it’s important to ensure adequate zinc intake. Animal foods contain zinc in a form that is more absorbable. To increase zinc absorbability from plant foods, grains should be soaked, sour leavened, or fermented.

Legumes and nuts are also best soaked and then nuts can by dehydrated. The book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon is an excellent resource for the proper preparation of plant foods.

Iron is another important mineral. You will most likely need a supplement while pregnant as iron is not absorbed well and the need for iron significantly increases during pregnancy. Again, animal sources like beef and liver are better absorbed than plant sources (dried fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, spinach). To increase iron absorption, you can eat a vitamin C rich food (citrus fruits, bell peppers, strawberries, papaya, sweet potato) with the iron rich food.

thyroid health

Thyroid Health

Getting the fat-soluble vitamins, selenium, and iodine will go a long way to nourishing the thyroid gland. Managing stress is also important so include activities like yoga, meditation, or Tai Chi in your daily routine.

Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts) provide a lot of nutrition and are also good sources of folate. But, if eaten raw, they can interfere with thyroid function so avoid more than one serving of raw cruciferous a day. 

Eating the right fats and avoiding the wrong fats will support thyroid function. Good fats include;

  • Coconut oil is an excellent fat to use along with butter
  • Red palm oil
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil

Avoid fats such as oils from;

  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Cottonseed
  • Canola
  • Grapeseed

These oils contain fats that promote inflammation in the body which can damage the thyroid gland.

protein

Protein Intake

Protein intake is important to provide the amino acids tyrosine (a component of thyroid hormone) and tryptophan which supports healthy thyroid function and also helps with serotonin (the feel good neurotransmitter) production. Eggs, salmon, cheese and nuts are great for tryptophan. This is a difficult amino acid to get as it’s like the runt of essential amino acids and is absorbed last. Eating these foods with carbohydrate rich foods, like starchy vegetables, can improve the absorption of tryptophan.

Boosting glutathione, the master antioxidant in the body, can protect and heal thyroid tissue. Getting at least a half a gram of protein for every pound of body weight is a good start to boosting glutathione. Include glycine rich foods like gelatin and chicken broth.

If you use any protein powders, use grass fed whey protein (though I don’t recommend daily use of protein powders). Avocados and parsley are particularly rich in glutathione. N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is a supplement that can be taken to boost glutathione and is safe during pregnancy.

Alpha lipoic acid is another supplement that can boost glutathione and it also supports healthy nerve function and may support pain management. It, too, has been shown to be safe during pregnancy.

gluten free

Go Gluten Free

This might be helpful if there is an underlying thyroid condition. Avoiding foods you are allergic to can help as well. Pay attention to how you feel when you eat foods to get a sense of whether or not they are supporting your health or hindering it. Cutting out gluten and other allergenic foods is critical if you have an autoimmune condition.

Gut Health

We are learning so much about our microbiome and how important it is to our health. It is important to get rid of allergenic foods when dealing with gut issues. A probiotic can help support a healthy microbiome and is safe to take during pregnancy. It can be found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut. Eating sauerkraut with meals can aid digestion and is safer than taking an enzyme supplement since they haven’t been studied in pregnant women.

When looking for a probiotic, try to find one with multiple strains. Ginger is safe to take while pregnant if you experience nausea or digestive upset. Coconut oil, in addition to supporting the thyroid, can also support gut health. It is important to avoid GMOs and glyphosate as much as possible. So, use more organic foods. Gelatin and chicken broth are supportive for gut health as well as thyroid health.

toxic

Toxicity

If you have any kind of toxicity, there isn’t a whole lot you can do about it until after the baby is born. It is not advisable to detox while pregnant and if you do, it really needs to be done under the care of your physician. 

What you can do is reduce exposure to toxins. Make sure you are not living with mold. Reduce your use of plastic (particularly plastic containers used for food and store receipts). Use the Seafood Watch app to find clean fish and seafood and the Healthy Living app to find clean personal care products.

Vaccines contain mercury and aluminum so you might want to discuss the appropriateness of vaccines for your condition with your doctor.

Practicing gratitude and eliminating negative emotions can also help reduce your toxic load.

Sleep

Fibromyalgia may make sleep difficult and being pregnant will just add to the problem. Try to get some early morning sun and have a regular schedule for going to bed and waking up. Ensuring that you get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Use a body pillow for comfort and sleep in a dark room away from wifi devices; don’t sleep near your cell phone. 

Click here to read, “Top 10 Tricks For Getting The Best Sleep Ever!”

Adding gelatin and chicken broth to your diet can aid sleep, too. The amino acid, glycine, supports healthy sleep. Melatonin as a supplement could be useful and may reduce the risk of intrauterine growth restriction, but it has not been studied thoroughly in pregnant women. So, consult with your doctor before taking it.

Taking a warm bath in Epsom salts with essential oils of lavender, eucalyptus, and sandalwood can relax you before bed and make it easier to fall asleep. These oils are safe during pregnancy.

pregnancy yoga

Pain

Managing pain can be more difficult while pregnant. Engaging in yoga or Tai Chi type exercises can help along with some aerobic exercise and weight training. You only need about 20 minutes of exercise; you don’t want to overdo it.

Alpha lipoic acid supplements, as discussed earlier, can be helpful as well as the homeopathic remedy Rhus Toxicodendron (6C dose). These are both safe for pregnancy. Mind-body work might be something to try for pain management while pregnant as well.

Having fibromyalgia while pregnant may or may not pose any additional risks. You could actually feel better, or you could experience more pain. Eating real food, making a few lifestyle changes, and taking the right supplements can go a long way to helping you manage symptoms safely while pregnant. 

Natural Health Relief For Fibromyalgia Sufferers

natural health

You’ve probably heard the term fibromyalgia before. Maybe you’ve experienced the symptoms, received a diagnosis or know someone who has. Maybe you’ve heard about it from a friend or have even wondered if it’s possible that you have it. I’m a firm believer in natural health, so if any of the above sounds like you then you must try the following tips.

Click here to take our online fibromyalgia test.

Instantly download this mini report

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Let’s start by clarifying what fibromyalgia means. Fibromyalgia is a medical diagnosis. It is used to describe a certain set of symptoms. These symptoms can include;

  • Pain throughout the body
  • Increased sensitivity
  • Fatigue
  • Low energy
  • Poor sleep
  • Digestive issues
  • Brain fog
  • Lack of motivation

As you may be able to tell, these symptoms are quite vague and someone diagnosed with fibromyalgia may not have all these symptoms or may have other symptoms that are not on the list.

Fibromyalgia is known as a diagnosis of exclusion. This basically means that there is no specific test for it and every other relevant test has come back negative. That leaves us with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia and a person who overall feels quite unwell and unable to accomplish their daily goals.

What Causes Fibromyalgia?

It seems to be different for everyone. There is a lot of research going into this area and many theories and ideas into the causes and triggers of fibromyalgia are being investigated.

Theories range from changes in pain signalling pathways in the nervous system, to genetic variations, hormonal imbalances, and immune system changes. And, while each person is different, fibromyalgia often seems to be linked with stress and inflammation (1).

Naturopathic Approach For Natural Health?

Before we get into my naturopathic approach to fibromyalgia, I’d like to make an important distinction.

As a naturopath, I don’t treat fibromyalgia. I do, however, treat patients who may be experiencing symptoms that fit with a fibromyalgia diagnosis.

I make this distinction, not to be confusing, but because I find it can be too easy to focus on a diagnosis. Especially one as frustrating as fibromyalgia and lose sight of the unique person behind the diagnosis. That being said, here is my approach to helping patients who may be experiencing symptoms of fibromyalgia get their health back on track.

Natural Health Steps To Achieve Relief

stress
1. Address The Stress

The symptoms of fibromyalgia are usually brought on by a stressful life event (1). Whether it was a traumatic experience or a flu that never seemed to go away, it is important to address and process any unresolved emotions around that experience.

Daily life stress also seems to make all of the symptoms of fibromyalgia worse so finding ways to manage and better cope with stress is so important. There are many tools that we use as Naturopaths to help manage stress. These tools range from;

Also, it can even be as simple as doing one thing a day that brings you joy. That last one gets written down on my prescription pad often!

It is important to work with a healthcare professional to form your own unique toolkit to help you best manage your stress.

2. Diet & Nutrition

As previously mentioned, inflammation tends to play a large role in fibromyalgia. There are a lot of ways to reduce inflammation with diet. There are anti-inflammatory diets, intermittent fasting, and even specific foods that can help reduce inflammation. This is where it becomes important to work with a Naturopath to come up with dietary habits that work best for you.

Click here to read, “Foods to Avoid with Fibromyalgia”.

fibromyalgia relief
3. Address Sleep

There has been research to show abnormal sleeping patterns in people diagnosed with fibromyalgia (2). Checking in with your sleep patterns and practicing good sleep hygiene can help to reduce symptoms of fibromyalgia. Herbs, acupuncture, nutrition, and exercise can be useful tools in getting sleep back on track as well.

4. Rest, Rest, Rest

I say this three times because it is so important and many struggle with taking time to rest. It can be hard to accept not being able to do everything you could do before. However, it is important to listen to your body and take the time to rest. This rest time is important for recovery but also in re-focusing and re-establishing some of your health and overall life goals.

natural health
5. Exercise

Everyone is different.  However, I often find people who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia really benefit from restorative type exercises. Things that involve gentle movement like;

All of these help get the body moving and blood flowing without being too strenuous for someone who is already feeling depleted.

And there you have it, some areas to look into with your Naturopath if you are experiencing symptoms of fibromyalgia. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

References
  1. “Fibromyalgia – Musculoskeletal and Connective Tissue Disorders.” Merck Manuals Professional Edition, Merck Manuals.
  2. Wu Y-L, Chang L-Y, Lee H-C, Fang S-C, Tsai P-S. Sleep disturbances in fibromyalgia: A meta-analysis of case-control studies. J Psychosom Res. 2017 May;96:89–97.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms Affect Mostly Women

fibromaylgia

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fibromyalgia symptoms women

Fibromyalgia Symptoms Women – Fibromyalgia is a chronic syndrome known by symptoms of musculoskeletal pain in specific anatomical sites. However the identifiable physical or physiological causes are unknown.  In addition, this diagnosis is considerably more common in women than men.

Why Does Fibromyalgia Affect Women More Than Men?

Think You Might Have Fibromyalgia?  Take Our Fibromyalgia Test

The Fibro Pain

The pain is also described as;

  • Sharp or achy
  • Spread out
  • Severe
  • Pounding
  • Stabbing

Some will have fairly consistent symptoms while others may experience periods of remission and then flare ups. When it’s at its worst they can be accompanied by heart palpitations.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms Women

Fibromyalgia symptoms in both woman and men can overlap into psychosomatic disorders  starting first from;

  • Pain
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Seep disturbances

Which can turn into depression and anxiety.  Are we saying that Fibromyalgia is a mental problem?  No but it can lead to one.

It has more commonly been categorized as a central nervous system disorder.  One that can be chronic. However, research suggests a strong correlation between Fibromyalgia and mental health.

Fibromyalgia affects approximately 4% to 6% of the population.  Affecting 1 million people in Canada alone.  Interestingly enough, 70% to 90% of the diagnosed cases are women.

That doesn’t mean that men can’t be affected obviously.  However, it is clearly a condition affecting more woman.

Click to read, “The Dos and Donts of the Fibromyalgia Diet” to find the  best diet for fibromyalgia. 

No Fibromyalgia Lab Tests

Unfortunately there are no lab tests to diagnose fibromyalgia.  Determining the syndrome is by confirming a list of symptoms (see above).  Mainly the symptoms of pain and fatigue, assessed by a qualified doctor.

Why this is so important is because other conditions need to be ruled out.   Sadly, this condition can be used as a label to acknowledge a problem without any other known cause.

fibromyalgia symptoms woman

A fibromyalgia diagnosis can be considered if no other known cause is determined.  Presence of tender points in 18 possible sites on the body must also be present.  These points produce pain when pressure is applied.  A person must have 11 or more of these tender points among other symptoms if a diagnostic conclusion will be made.

Think You Might Have Fibromyalgia?  Take Our Full Fibromyalgia Test

References:

Amanda MacMillan / Health. (Sep. 2017). Lady Gaga Has Postponed Her Tour Because of Her Fibromyalgia. Here’s What to Know About the Painful Disorder.
Retrieved from http://time.com/4946983/lady-gaga-fibromyalgia-disorder/

(Jul. 2018). Fibromyalgia. Britannica
Retrieved from www.britannica.com/science/fibromyalgia

Online Fibromyalgia Test

fibromyalgia diagnosis

LIVING WITH FIBROMYALGIA? The following Fibromyalgia test will help you determine if you have the metabolic fingerprints of Fibromyalgia. Diagnosing Fibromyalgia is a challenge. There are many illnesses with similar symptoms that can be misdiagnosed as this condition that should be ruled out, and although there isn’t a specific blood test, there are markers that suspected patients with fibromyalgia will have that point in the direction of a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia . This questionnaire we have prepared is a simplified version of the diagnostic criteria provided by the American College of Rheumatology. Please note that there is not definitive diagnostic questionnaire available and you should always consult your doctor for medical advice any health concerns, however this tool can be used to provide some guidance. Fill in the form below and click the big button at the bottom to analyze your results.  Also, click here to learn about foods to avoid with fibromyalgia.

A. Widespread Pain Index

This is the first part of the fibromyalgia test. Where do you feel your pain? Using the diagram above indicate each of the 18 tender points on your body you have experienced pain over the past 7 days and count 1 for each point.

Total number of pain points: /18 Points

B. Symptom Severity Scale

Using a scale of 0 (No problem) to 3 (Severe and Ongoing), rate your symptom severity over the past week in each of the 3 categories.

FatigueWaking UnrefreshedBrain Fog
/3 /3 /3

C.  Somatic Symptoms List

People with Check any symptoms you have experienced over the past week. Symptoms include:

Muscle Pain
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Fatigue/Tiredness
Thinking / Memory problems
Muscle Weakness
Headache
Pain/Cramps in Abdomen
Numbness / Tingling
Dizziness
Insomnia
Depression
Constipation
Pain in Upper Abdomen
Nausea
Nervousness
Chest Pain
Blurred Vision
Fever
Diarrhea
Dry Mouth
Itching
Wheezing
Hives / Welts
Ringing In the Ears
Vomiting
Heartburn
Oral ulcers
Loss/ Change in Taste
Seizures
Dry Eyes
Shortness of Breath
Loss of Appetite
Rash
Sun Sensitivity
Hearing Difficulty
Easy Bruising - Hair Loss
Frequent Urination
Bladder Spasms