Last time we talked quite a bit about how a poor diet can screw up your gut which in turn messes with your immune system which goes a bit haywire and attacks your nervous system.
Now we're going to move away from the gut and Immune system and look at the muscles.
If you haven't read the last post check it out. It's got some nice freebies in there on diet, food planners and a cool video (of me) explaining the work I do.
So...muscles eh? They're a bugger when you've got FM. muscles seemingly cause you pain, locking in place, bringing on headaches and migraines.
Let's talk a little bit about how muscles work and then we can understand how we can fix them up - do I make this sound too simple and easy? It's a complicated procedure in the nitty gritty of things but on the surface it's fairly simple.
How do we move?
Your answer - "painfully and fatiguing"
Not quite the answer you were looking for....let's look at the science a bit in basic terms.
Brain makes a decision to move "I want to pick up those keys"
Orders get sent to muscles - "move in this and that direction, pincer like motion with the hands"
Energy stored in the muscle is given to the required muscle cells
Muscles and sense of touch - say to brain - "I went in the direction you told me to, made like a pincer with my hand and now I'm holding something"
Sight says - "yep, that's keys"
Brain says "good job - move again and shove them in your handbag - don't forget to undo that pincer like movement with those fingers"
And so the conversation goes on.
In that time, you might also have been holding a conversation, looking at something else, watching TV, juggling a child into a car seat, and eating a sandwich or any number of other things.
We're pretty smart creatures.
A bit more depth
For all of that to happen a very specific set of things happens. Let's get a bit more scientific (without going crazy)
The Frontal Cortex - the bit of your brain just behind and above the eyes - forehead and back a bit - this is the decision maker - he can override some stuff for example not swearing in front of your kids after you've trodden on a spiky toy.
Anyway, the Frontal Cortex sends that message on to the motor cortex (still the frontal cortex but the back edge of it) - the motor cortex holds a little map of the body, called the motor homunculus. This sends messages out to various parts of the body to move - often in unison, continuously, forever. These messages eventually get out of the brain via the brainstem, Cerebellum and spinal cord out off into the body.
Muscles: to do their thing, they need some chemicals to get working - mostly
Acetylcholine a neurotransmitter, sodium (like sea salt), potassium (hence the NEED for salt in our diets) and calcium.
The message from the brain triggers off a reaction at the nerve-muscle junction and these chemicals get to work. The muscle can then contract (work)
Muscles, have some specialised nerve fibres held with them, called muscle spindles. These detect the length of the muscle now that it has moved and sends information back to the brain along almost exactly the same path as it was sent.
These messages pass back along the spinal cord, up into the Brainstem, Cerebellum and into the sensory cortex.
The sensory cortex, which has a map much like the motor homunculus, then interprets that information, gathers it all together and then we can make another decision.
This all happens in the blink of an eye - oh and we manage to stand up, walk, talk, eat and do just about everything else while this is happening.
As I said, we're pretty smart creatures.
What does all of this have to do with Fibromyalgia?
Somewhere along the line, pain and inflammation have crept in, every movement hurts, every muscle contraction becomes agony, every single breath painful, every step evermore tiring.
I mentioned pain and the brainstem - we can do something about that pain using the brainstem.
Pain is a funny old thing - it has very little to actually do with the muscles themselves but the receptors around and near the muscles.
Those nerves that tell muscles to move, do NOT feel the muscle ache type pain characterised in FM.
A bit like wires in the wall, they just do what they are told by the switch.
Sensations of pain, in this case, are carried by nerves called C-fibres - they have absolutely nothing to do with movement. C fibres are everywhere in our body, constantly reporting back to the brain on things like temperature, muscle sensation (not muscle movement), sensual/light touch, pinch.
It is the C-fibres in people with FM that are over-sensitised giving the sensation of pain. They have been attacked by the immune system. Constantly thinking that they are in danger.
Analgesic pathways - you may or may not have heard of Analgesia, it's what anaesthetists use to stop you feeling pain during surgery. We have our own, inbuilt, pain relief path and it's thought that glial (a type of nerve cell) cells within the Brain have some responsibility in the pain processing pathways.
1. You can help yourself decrease C-fibre sensitivity.
2. I can help decrease C-fibre sensitivity
YOU CAN STOP PAIN!!
We have the ability to lower the amount of pain we feel with a simple trick. (see the pictures below)
Put your arm up in front of your eyes - straight arm
Put your thumb up
Look at your thumb (its relatively close to your face - roughly arms length)
Breathe in while looking at your thumb (1 - 2 seconds)
Look over your thumb into the distance
Breathe out (4-8 seconds)
Repeat for 4 Breaths
Then lightly rub the area where you feel most pain for 5 - 10 seconds.
Bounce up and down on your heels (a small thud through the heel bone - not so heavy that it hurts)
Repeat steps 4 - 9 five times in each area you feel pain.
Do that as often as you like.
You Can also try: