Is Fibromyalgia a Mitochondrial Disorder?

mitochondria

Given my very limited knowledge of science and how the body works, I’ve been wondering for awhile if the mitochondria could be a part of what causes (or maybe fuels?) fibromyalgia. It looks like I’m not the only one wondering that and some researchers are starting to research this very thing. This article details several small studies done recently into whether FM is a mitochondrial disorder. I found this particularly interesting.

“Significant reductions in mitochondrial enzyme activity (in complexes I, II, III and IV) were found in the FM patients but not the healthy controls. That, in combination with reduced levels of mitochondrial proteins, indicated that mitochondrial functioning was indeed significantly reduced. So were CoQ10 and ATP levels and mitochondrial DNA levels. In fact, every aspect of mitochondrial functioning tested was found to have taken a significant hit in the FM patients.

“That suggested mitochondrial damage had occurred and that finding set the stage for the next test. Since damaged mitochondrial DNA are known to spark an inflammatory response, the researchers asserted they should also be able to find evidence of inflammation in the skin – and they did. Double the levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-a were found in the skin of the FM patients.

“Not only were the increased cytokine levels strongly associated with reduced mtDNA – suggesting that the mitochondrial problems had indeed sparked the inflammation – but they were highly correlated with the pain levels in FM (p<.001) as well. That suggested the mitochondrial problems could be causing or contributing to the pain the FM patients were experiencing.

“A threefold increase in TNF-a levels in the saliva and the blood collected from the biopsy area relative to the healthy controls suggested that widespread or systemic inflammation and oxidative stress was present as well. The FM patients looked pretty much like a soup of mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress and inflammation.”

And this bit makes me want to try adding CoQ10 back into my daily supplement routine. I did it years ago and didn’t notice much of a change, but maybe it’s worth trying again.

“CoQ10 is a particularly intriguing nutrient given its ability to both boost ATP production and reduce levels of oxidative stress. C0Q10 levels are reportedly low in many neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, fibromyalgia and cancer.

“A fibromyalgia study by this Spanish research group found a 50% reduction in COQ10 levels in FM. With dozens of mostly small studies examining mitochondrial dysfunction and CoQ10 levels/supplementation in FM and other disorders under it’s belt, this Spanish research group has been leading the way in this area.”

Read the full article here.

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Quote of the Day – Importance of Meditation

Meditation has been a huge help to me over the years, and especially in the last few months as I deal with going through a divorce. I came across this passage from Ane Pema Chodron, a woman Buddhist teacher and long time practice of deeper meditation techniques. Meditation helps me clear my mind of its usual jumble of thoughts, focus on taking deep, calming breaths, and relax. It helps me relieve stress and is one of my tools to manage my chronic pain from fibromyalgia. I highly recommend meditation to you as it can reduce many things that trigger our pain: stress, emotional upset (anger, depression, etc.), physical and mental tension, sleep problems, and more.

“Wishing to be free of that kind of really self-imposed loneliness, self-imposed suffering that we create with our minds. The fact that our house burns down is not self-imposed. The fact that we get an illness isn’t self-imposed. What we do with that and how that escalates into such intense misery and feeling of separateness and feeling of aloneness and alienation. This, we do this with our minds. We do it to ourselves. We torture ourselves.”
-Pema Chodron

lotus flower

Namaste everyone!

The Stress of Chronic Illness

I love the posts of the Seeking Equilibrium blog. I wanted to share this one on the stress that having fibromyalgia creates for us. I feel like she took the words right out of my mouth!

HERE’S MY NUMBER SO I’LL CALL YOU MAYBE

 

The stress of chronic illness.

Where do I begin?

Chronic illness:  the invisible shackles that bind us. It’s been said that we “acquire” Fibromyalgia due to stress. What they fail to acknowledge is the stress that chronic pain brings along with it.

One of my favorites is agreeing to something social. Now, in the back of my mind I’m thinking, “should I put several caveats in the agreement so I don’t look like a no-show again?”

It seems that everything is a fight. Not a physical or verbal fight but a fight of circumstances. You feel like you are fighting against the immovable object.  I was driven, competitive and work obsessed. Then I got slammed and it all went out the window. When you have to redefine yourself….well, it isn’t pretty. We go from mach 2 to ZERO and that takes its toll. That alone brings all kinds of stressors. Most of the people I know define themselves by their work and I was no different.

I was in New Home Sales and loved it. It took a long time to get over the fact that I would never man a sales office again. There is a lot of climbing stairs, movement and memory involved. There are days that I still have a tough time dealing with it, not only because of the income, but I loved what I did.

So, back to feeling like cow plop.

When I have something I want to do it’s kind of a crap shoot whether I’ll go. If the pain level is manageable…of course I go….but on any given day….well, that’s up for grabs too. Weather seems to bother me and it’s been haywire lately.

We want to go away and the stress of traveling is just one more thing. When you can’t sit for more than 20 minutes and it’s a five hour flight……what do you do? I don’t love flying on the best of days let alone the worst of them. Just to get the bulkhead seats I had to get a doctor’s note and show medical records for a reason that I have to sit there. Then the humidity levels are much higher than they are where I live……I’m just hoping that I can sit my fanny on a beach and not care how much pain I’m in.

Did we say stress? It seems that everything has stress attached to it. It may not be overt but it’s still there. Why? Because we cannot fly by the seat of our pants anymore. Every little thing has to be planned out and accounted for……and even then it may not work out. I get so tired of being tired and in pain. I want to shake it off and have pain-free fun.

I want to get out and call people and enjoy life. Now, I’m afraid that I’ll be a big drag because I just can’t do what I used to do. Pain, fatigue and nerve damage…..did I say stress?

Gee…………

Everything revolves around me.

That used to be a good thing,

Now, it’s a pain in the fanny.

Notice I said fanny

Relieve Chronic Pain By De-Stressing, Study Says

Relieve Chronic Pain By De-Stressing, Study Says

Destress Pain Management
Living with chronic pain can be truly stressful, but a new study contributes to growing research that managing stress may help reduce discomfort as well. Doctors from the University of Montreal found an association between the intensity of the pain experienced by chronic pain patients and their reported stress levels.

In the small study of just 24 participants, 16 of whom had chronic pain and 18 of whom were healthy control subjects, researchers found that patients who had a smaller hippocampus were more likely to also have higher cortisol levels. And higher levels of the stress hormone, in turn, contribute to increased reported pain scores on a scale of intensity.

“Our study shows that a small hippocampal volume is associated with higher cortisol levels, which lead to increased vulnerability to pain and could increase the risk of developing pain chronicity,” lead author Étienne Vachon-Presseau said in a statement.

Vachon-Presseau and colleagues measured cortisol levels in saliva samples supplied by all study participants. They then asked them to report pain levels, measured hippocampus size using fMRI and tracked response to pain stimuli using another fMRI.

The fMRI tests revealed that subjects with the smallest hippocampus sizes by volume were also more likely to have a greater response to pain in an area of the brain that’s linked to anticipatory anxiety. Subsequently, analysis showed that those patients were also more likely to have higher levels of cortisol.

Previous research has also shown an association between stress response and chronic pain sufferers. Now, many chronic pain specialists recommend a de-stressing practice like meditation to help ease pain response. The researchers hope their study will help support that treatment.
that treatment.

Posted: 03/03/2013 on Huffingtonpost.com

Festive, Fun way to Relieve Pain

The holidays can be stressful, to say the least.  This season involves a lot of hustle and bustle and if you suffer from fibromyalgia or chronic pain, all the goings on this holiday season can spike your pain and sap your energy. I’m always looking for creative ways to manage my pain, instead of just relying on medications. Here’s one I bet you haven’t thought of:

Coloring!

Christmas Tree Coloring Page

My therapist turned me on to this and I’ll be darned if the pain just doesn’t fade to the background while I color. I find that I get the best result when I choose pictures that I could’ve colored as a child, not anime or new cartoons or anything else from the present. I get the best result using crayons too. Colored pencils and markers just don’t give me as much pain relief. I don’t know if it’s the smell of the crayons or that I’m tapping into my inner child who is still happy and untouched by pain and traumas, but whatever the reason coloring helps me manage my pain. And anything that helps manage pain is a good thing in my book.

I haven’t been up to much holiday decorating the last couple of weeks. I just put some lights on m Christmas tree last night.  It still needs ornaments, garland, and all the fixings.  I haven’t wrapped a single present from the daunting stack of things to be wrapped either.  So I’m killing two birds with one stone today. I’m coloring Christmas coloring pages. It’s fun to color them and get in the holiday spirit. It brings up lots of childhood memories of happy times at Christmas with my family and the excitement of opening presents and seeing what Santa left for us on Christmas morning.  The pain fades away while I color and when I’m done, I can tape the pages up on the walls in my house to add some holiday decorations and color to the house.

Christmas Stockings Coloring Page

So before you work yourself into a flare up or crash from too much excitement and sugar, take a moment, breathe, and enjoy some coloring. Your body will thank you.

The Benefits of Meditation

Image

I’m a big fan of meditation. It helps me a lot with the pain and with stress. When I was at my worst, I’d forgotten how to breath. Now, meditation is one of my best tools to manage my fibromyalgia. I came across this post on meditation and fibromyalgia and loved it. It’s a great introducation to meditation and how it can helps people suffering from chronic pain and fibromyalgia.

 

If you have fibromyalgia, you know how difficult it can be to deal with. Fibromyalgia symptoms such as chronic pain and fatigue often make it difficult to go on with your daily routine. These symptoms can sometimes have disastrous effects on your mood, leaving you feeling hopeless or even depressed. If you are feeling especially stressed out by your fibromyalgia, you may find that meditation can help you restore calmness and vitality to your life.

What is Meditation?

Meditation techniques are increasingly being used by those with fibromyalgia to manage their fibromyalgia symptoms and lift their mood. Through meditation, people can quiet their minds, reduce stress, and eliminate worries from their life, at least for a short amount of time.

Meditation usually consists of focusing on the breath or a certain word, sound, or object in order to enter into an altered state of consciousness. Meditation produces feelings of relaxation and rest, and can help people learn how to focus their minds on things other than the trials and tribulations of daily life. Meditation has been used for thousands of years by many different cultures. It is not known exactly where meditation began, though early practices can be traced to India and the Eastern World.

There are numerous different types of meditation, including mindfulness meditation, concentration meditation, and transcendental meditation. Most types of meditation have the same goal – to allow a person to achieve mental clarity and a state of extreme calm. Meditation is sometimes used to promote spiritual healing. Benefits of Meditation When practiced regularly, all types of meditation can offer numerous physical and mental benefits.

Physical benefits include:

•Reduced heart rate

•Decreased pulse

•Lowered blood pressure

•Reduced nervous system activity

Mental benefits of meditation include:

•Fewer mood swings

•Decreased feelings of depression

•Feelings of vigor and vitality

•Increased memory

•Decreased levels of anxiety

How Meditation Helps Fibromyalgia Sufferers:

Meditation has recently been shown to be very effective in reducing the stress levels and symptoms associated with fibromyalgia syndrome. If you have fibromyalgia, techniques of meditation can help to improve your sleep patterns and reduce your fatigue.

Meditation techniques can also help to reduce your pain levels, as it decreases the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in your body. In a 1993 study involving 77 fibromyalgia patients, it was found that daily meditation improved most fibromyalgia symptoms. 51% of participants reported moderate to marked improvement in their symptoms. In 1998, a study on meditation and fibromyalgia found that meditative practices lessened the achiness, sleeplessness, muscle pain, and depression experienced by fibromyalgia patients.

From the The Benefits of Fibro Meditation.