Joint pain

Fibromyalgia – it’s not all in your mind!

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What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes a broad spectrum of symptoms.

These include;

  • Pain,
  • Fatigue,
  • Headaches,
  • Memory issues, including brain fog
  • Sleep problems, including poor sleep quality and restless legs
  • Stiff joints, especially on waking
  • Lower abdominal cramping,
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Numb or tingling extremities
  • Heightened sensitivity to noises, bright lights and temperature changes

What causes Fibromyalgia?

Even though there is no definitive cause of Fibro, there are a number of potential possibilities such as;

  • Food sensitivities or allergies
  • Chemical sensitivities or allergies
  • Viruses including; Epstein-Barr, Ross River, influenza, hepatitis B & C, Herpes, Lyme
  • Hormonal imbalances (such as hypothyroidism)
  • Poor digestion
  • Candida overgrowth
  • Spinal misalignments
  • Stress; physical or emotional
  • PTSD
  • Drugs; pharmaceutical and recreational
  • Neurotransmitter deficiencies
  • Genetics

Risk Factors;

  • Being female (80 – 90 % of sufferers are women!)
  • Family history
  • Genetic defects including MTHFR
  • Rheumatoid conditions such as; R.A and Lupus
  • Excess blood vessels and extra nerve fibres known as Arteriole-Venule (AV) Shunts in the hands, legs and feet. AV shunts regulate body temperature and blood flow. In sufferers of fibro, there are not only up to 2-8 times more nerve fibres but the AV shunts are up to 4 times larger. This may be why fibro sufferers feel worse in the cold.


There is no definitive test for Fibromyalgia, but 100% of sufferers have pain at multiple sites (see diagram). Other specific symptoms for diagnosis include; 87% have general fatigue, 76% suffer from stiffness, 72% have sleep disorders, 62% feel they hurt everywhere, 60% feel anxiety and stress and 52% feel swelling in tissues.

Fibromyalgia tender points

How to Treat Fibromyalgia;

  1. Address previous virus issues.
  2. Remove any foods that may be causing sensitivities. If these are unknown, I recommend a hair analysis test by Naturopathic Services which tests for 500 foods and household items. For more information check out this article;
  3. Avoid foods that cause inflammation, check out this list;
  4. Improve digestive function, particularly if there’s bloating and excess wind.
  5. Improve gut bacteria with a practitioner only brand probiotic.
  6. Repairing gut lining.
  7. Support liver function as well as adrenal function and work on stress reduction techniques.
  8. Natural supplements that may help to reduce the severity of the symptoms associated with Fibromyalgia. These will be assessed on an individual basis, but may include;  Acetyl L-carnitine, magnesium, EFA’s, vitamin D, anti-inflammatories, herbs for pain and inflammatin and to address any virus infection.
  9. Address lifestyle changes such as; exercise, massage (including Lymphatic drainage as well as Remedial, depending on the individual),  acupuncture.




Scalenes Stretch

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  1. Start by either lying down or sitting in a chair.
  2. Place your right hand under your bottom and sit on it. This holds the shoulder down so you can stretch your neck without raising the shoulder.
  3. Tilt your head to the left bringing your left ear towards your left shoulder. If you don’t feel much of a stretch, bring your left hand up to LIGHTLY pull your head down towards the left more.
  4. Hold for 10 breaths.
  5. Repeat this stretch tilting the head slightly in front of and behind the shoulder as well.
  6. See picture above.

Gluteal & ITB stretches

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Hip Stretch  (Gluteal Stretch)

  1. Begin sitting on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you.
  2. Bend your right knee and place the right foot over the left leg and stand it on the floor outside your left hip. The right knee will point directly up at the ceiling.
  3. Exhale and rotate your torso to the right. Press the right hand against the floor just behind your right buttock, and set your left upper arm on the outside of your right thigh near the knee. Pull your front torso and inner right thigh snugly together.
  4. Exhale and twist further. Continue the twist of the torso by turning it to the right and turn your head so you’re looking over the right shoulder.
  5. Stay in the pose for several breaths. Inhale and untwist. Change sides.

Don’t overdo a stretch, only ever stretch to resistance, not so much that it hurts.

Hold the stretch once you reach resistance, then let go, try again and you might find you have more range of movement.

Never bounce with a stretch and don’t forget to breath!!


Iliotibial Band (ITB) stretch

Place the leg you want to stretch behind the other one. Keep the foot on the floor and push your hips out to the other side until a stretch is felt in the outer hip and along the ITB. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 5 times.

Make sure you don’t bounce with this stretch. Take your time to ease into the stretch gently and remember to keep breathing!

You can also lean forwards onto a table to help with balance and to increase the stretch.


Seated Hip Push Stretch (Gluteal Stretch)
Sit with one knee bent and across with your ankle resting on the other thigh. Grip one hand onto the foot with the other hand on the opposite thigh. Gently enhance the stretch by pushing down on the thigh and pulling your foot towards you, hold for 3 seconds and then relax. Perform 10 repetitions, three times per day.


Bridge or Hip Thrust: Lie on your back with your weight on your upper back between the shoulder blades and your feet. Keep your arms at your sides or cross them over your chest. Lower your butt almost to the ground and thrust upward by activating your glutes and driving your heels into the ground.
Start with 10 repetitions and build up gradually
A more advanced version is the Single Leg Hip Thrust. Lift one leg so your weight is all on one leg and your back. Repeat the same movement, making sure you drive your heel into the ground and keep a stable pelvis.

Start with 5 repetitions each leg and build up gradually