Fibromyalgia and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

“After a traumatic experience, the human system of self-preservation seems to go into permanent alert, as if the danger might return at any moment” , Judith Lewis Herman

There has been a great deal of public awareness of late regarding the concept of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It seems as though the syndrome has become somewhat commonplace and many are quick to self diagnose. But, even more are recognizing that the condition is one caused by great stress and chronic anxiety and there are commonalities among us in our responses to traumatic experiences. What was once associated with abuse, now is believed to be the result of many occurrences that bring about dramatic memories, which in turn trigger danger to an overly stimulated nervous system. With the relatively recent wars in the Middle East whereby PTSD among veterans became all too common, public awareness has been heightened. In my book I discussed fibromyalgia in relation to what was then becoming known as Gulf War Syndrome, now it is more specifically known as PTSD that is capturing the attention of the experts. In the first world war it was known as shell shock. In the second world war it became known as battle fatigue, finally it is now more appropriately labelled as PTSD. Many of these veterans with PTSD have fibromyalgia, in fact I speculated then (and do so now) that they are one and the same thing. I will acknowledge there is the possibility that they are somewhat separate but akin to identical twins. The symptoms are identical.

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Fibromyalgia: The pain is in the brain

11463“Memory, the warder of the brain”, William Shakespeare

This is it!!! In my view this is the most significant in-sight I have had about the pain of fibromyalgia. It has been a long and interesting journey beginning with my book in which I laid the foundation about why women are more prone to developing FMS and my conclusion that it is actually caused by an over-aroused nervous system. However, while this was the first step, and the primary one, more has been revealed to me and I am very excited over the unlimited hope there could be for us all. I still don’t have all the answers and it may be that I am presenting information that is not quite accurate, but it has been a steep learning curve and requires much un-learning, which is said to be more difficult than learning. It all began with my physiotherapist, Nick Matheson who brought me to a path which I had never travelled down before, that is, to explore the relationship of pain and the brain, rather than looking simply at fibromyalgia as the result of a hyper-aroused nervous system. The journey down this path is not yet complete so I welcome comments from others who are more learned in this domain than I am.

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