Andrew Holman, a rheumatologist at Pacific Rheumatology Research, Inc., specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of fibromyalgia, a chronic pain syndrome. In this Patient Power program he explains how disrupted sleep and dysfunction in the brain can lead to the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia. Some new medicines, Mirapex and Requip, have helped some patients. Other medications that may help are Cymbalta and Lyrica. Dr. Holman addresses how compression of the cervical spine may cause ongoing sleep problems. Fibromyalgia and MRI studies at several centers are investigating this further.
Patient Cathryn Vannice, a pharmacist, felt pain when she would dispense pills into bottles with child proof caps. Her thumbs hurt. Further investigation found pain in several areas of her body. She was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and found relief after seeing a fibromyalgia specialist.
Lynne Matallana, another guest on this program and the founder of the National Fibromyalgia Association, developed fibromyalgia as she recovered from an unrelated surgery. It was like a light switch and an almost electric pain was flowing through her body. Every part of her body hurt. In addition she had headaches and back spasms. In this discussion, Lynne explains the importance of connecting with a rheumatologist who specializes in the treatment of the condition and being a proactive patient. Her organization also provides support groups for patients to know they are not alone and to help them get directed to lifestyle changes, fibromyalgia specialists, and better care.
In this program Dr. Holman explains what he and many other rheumatologists now believe is occurring when someone has fibromyalgia:
“The most compelling information suggests that this is a process that occurs in the central nervous system. This is a process that feels like muscles and bones and joints, and, indeed, there is plenty of pain there. But it's essentially an abnormal processing of sensations in the brain. You have nerve endings throughout your entire body, but the sensations that come from those nerve endings is amplified. And there's a natural filter in the brain so you don't feel everything every second, so you can concentrate on whatever you're paying attention to.
That filter breaks down, and why it breaks down is the key to what we do about it. It appears that you can break that filter most readily with sleep deprivation. Now, it's not necessarily the sleep deprivation that someone might have from day to day, it's more intense. But it's a similar process.”
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Each week we have leading medical experts on, and think about it, not every doctor can be expert in everything. And one of those conditions that unfortunately few doctors are expert in is called fibromyalgia. For so many years, this condition, this syndrome of chronic pain, soreness, really debilitating pain, fatigue, often, was thought to be in your head. And they didn't know what it was. Maybe you were depressed. Maybe you had something else going on. And when this name fibromyalgia came up, a lot of doctors would just roll their eyes. And quite frankly, they were not trained for it.
But there are some who are. There are some who devoted their lives to it. You're going to meet one in just a minute, Dr. Andrew Holman, who happens to be here in Seattle, but he's a true national expert and Andy has devoted his life to helping women and then the men also who have fibromyalgia get the care they need and deserve. That's what this show is all about.
I want to thank the National Fibromyalgia Association and its founder, Lynne Matallana, I hope I'm saying it right, who will join us in a second from Orange County. And we'll take your questions. We've already gotten in about a hundred, and so we're going to do as many as we can live on radio today, help the public understand fibromyalgia and the people suffering, and their family members understand too. And get some answers as specific as we can do on the radio. Obviously, Dr. Holman can't practice medicine on the radio, but we can take the sense of your question and help you and so many others.