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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