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Fibromyalgia & Menopause: Body Logic Responds

Posted Nov 28 2012 10:01am
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Continuing with my discussion on fibromyalgia and menopause, I wanted to post the question I presented recently to Body LogicMD regarding the connection between menopause and fibromyalgia.

Given that 80 to 95% of all fibromyalgia patients are women, according to the East Tennessee State University researchers , and that a large number of them are also menopausal and post-menopausal, it seems to me it is a subject worth pursuing.

I had to do a little editing of the “medical speak” for ease of reading, but outside of those minor changes, the answer from Dr. Kenneth Orbeck¹  follows in its entirety.

I was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia .  With the symptoms I had been experiencing, I thought I might be suffering with RA (rheumatoid arthritis).  However, as it turned out, that wasn’t the case.  I did a little research to see if there were any connections between fibromyalgia and menopause, and found that some researchers are looking at possible links.

Can you you tell me what you know about any connections between perimenopause , menopause, and fibroymyalgia?  Is it common for women in perimenopause and menopause to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and if so, why?

Perimenopause and menopause can present many symptoms which are similar to fibromyalgia. It is not uncommon for women in perimenopause and menopause to be prescribed antidepressant therapy, medications for insomnia , and anti-anxiety medications.

This most likely occurs because of a reduction in the levels of estrogen associated with the changes in perimenopause and menopause, which often contributes to depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness.  While the symptoms of menopause and fibromyalgia may overlap and seem to be associated, true fibromyalgia is a disease of heightened pain response and an over-stimulated nervous system.

Women going through menopause often experience a variation in the decline of their hormone levels. Some may experience changes in their thyroid function, lower levels of progesterone , and changes in their testosterone levels.  These changes often result in increased fatigue, muscle pain, anxiety, and mood swings – all of which are associated with fibromyalgia.

It is also common for women to have issues with their adrenal gland function, resulting in their cortisol levels fluctuating, which also results in even greater symptoms of fatigue and lack of mental sharpness.

Although researchers speculate that there may be a link between fibromyalgia and menopause, no conclusive evidence exists at this time. It is not uncommon for women who experience spontaneous menopause or stop menstruating as a result of a hysterectomy to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia as well.

Correcting the hormonal imbalance in perimenopause and menopause through the use of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and nutritional supplements, can help physicians more clearly define whether symptoms are due to perimenopause or menopause, or whether it is actual fibromyalgia.

¹Dr. Kenneth Orbeck practices anti-aging and preventive medicine at BodyLogicMD of Greenville , helping women and men suffering from menopause, andropause and other hormone imbalances achieve a longer, better life. Using individual, customized wellness programs tailored to address each patient’s specific, personal needs, Dr. Orbeck combines customized nutrition and fitness regimens, pharmaceutical-grade supplements, stress reduction techniques and natural bioidentical hormone replacement therapy to ensure his patients enjoy restored energy, improved mental clarity and the highest quality of life possible.

Dr. Orbeck stresses the importance of treating the whole patient by finding the root of the issue, instead of simply using a one-size-fits-all treatment approach for individual symptoms.  His practice emphasizes the prevention of disease and encouraging optimal overall health, rather than tackling illness once it has already occurred. Dr. Orbeck is passionate about sharing his knowledge and experience to ensure each and every patient can enjoy living life to the fullest.

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