Fibromyalgia and Pain Disorders
Many clients with fibromyalgia report that they have been treated badly by the conventional health care system. Often health providers give the impression to these clients that they consider the ailment bogus or a psychological need for dependency. These clients also usually arrive at our clinic heavily medicated and suffering from the serious side effects of these medications. Fibromyalgia clients are usually worn-out, depressed, sleep deprived and feeling abandoned.
Fibromyalgia is a connective tissue disorder that results from a serious emotional trauma, a physical injury (such as a head injury), and/or a viral infection. Generally, these clients admit to more than one of the above causes so generally there is a psychological dimension to the client’s condition. For example, if emotional or physical trauma has been experienced, the post-traumatic stress symptoms may require some psychotherapeutic intervention as well as correcting the brainwave abnormalities.
Treatment of fibromyalgia always requires that the client be weaned off the medications that are sustaining the condition. A typical brainwave abnormality one finds in cases of fibromyalgia is an excess of slow frequency brainwave amplitude in the front of the brain. Persons without fibromyalgia who have recently experienced a viral infection also usually show this same pattern in the frontal cortex. Likewise, a side effect of some medications is this same excess of slow brainwave amplitude in the front of the brain. These complications in the frontal regions of the brain are the cause of the cognitive inefficiencies usually reported by clients with these conditions; “fibrofog” as the fibromyalgia clients call the condition.
Fibromyalgia is generally associated with very poor sleep quality. Pain interferes with sleep and poor sleep in turn worsens the fibromyalgia condition. So these patients are caught in a self-worsening pattern which leads them to become dependent on sedating medications that in turn worsen the cognitive inefficiencies. Neurotherapy breaks this cycle by correcting the neurological conditions associated with the symptoms.
Pain is a normal response signaling that something is wrong and needs attention. Pain patterns differ markedly depending on which body systems are involved. For headache, we may find that brainwave treatment is not the most effective and that the client responds more favorably to regular biofeedback such as muscle tension reduction, increased body surface temperature or improved respiration. The treatment of pain, such as headache, also usually requires changing the client’s habits or life style patterns. Tensing the body when stressed, for example, may lead directly to a tension headache so learning how to recognize and correct body tension may be critical to averting the headache. Backache, on the other hand, may be relieved by sitting in a less “comfortable” chair that reduces tension in the large muscles in the back.
Generalized pain and specific pain such as migraine headache that does not respond to other forms of biofeedback can usually be improved by brainwave treatment similar to that used for seizure disorders. The latter has the effect of calming the body which has a beneficial effect on perceived pain. The treatment of pain is very complex. It usually involves determining if the pain can be eliminated or if one can only hope to reduce the distress associated with continuous unrelenting pain. The treatment of both of the above classes of pain further requires that the client be taught methods for increasing stress tolerance and reducing body tension. Finally, the physiological and neurological conditions that are associated with the pain symptoms are corrected with the goal of keeping the client drug-free or on very minimal dosages of analgesics.