Sunday, May 16, 2010

Obesity and Fibromyalgia

I don't have issues with fibromyalgia, but many Sjoggies struggle with the double whammy of a combination of fibro and autoimmune disease. You can read more about fibromyalgia here.

A recent study published in the May issue of Arthritis Care & Research and the subject of an article on Medscape drew the following conclusions:
Compared with normal-weight women who exercised at least 1 hour per week, overweight or obese women with a similar activity level had a 72% higher risk for fibromyalgia, whereas overweight or obese women who exercised less than 1 hour per week or who were inactive had more than double the risk for fibromyalgia. The study authors note that obesity and fibromyalgia share some etiologic factors, such as proinflammatory cytokines, dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, increased sympathetic tone, and reduced sympathetic reactivity.  "These findings, together with the current study, indicate that regular physical exercise, and thereby improved physical fitness, may serve as a buffer against the perpetuation of musculoskeletal symptoms that eventually lead to the development of FM," Dr. Mork said.
 You can read a summary of the same study found on Science Daily, here.


Jenny P said...

Have you come across anything in this (or another) study about reversing the effects? In other words, if a heavy person loses weight, can they reverse or reduce the effects of FM once it's developed?

All this just amounts to the same depressing realization that if I don't get off my duff and exercise NOW I may as well sign my own death certificate - or at least certify myself as insane because I will be from the pain!

Julia Oleinik said...

Good question, Jen. The study didn't look at weight loss data.

And I had the same thoughts as you - I know how important it is to exercise, even if I can't exercise at the same intensity that I used to.

Wish I could take advice as well as I dish it out!

annie said...

As a person diagnosed with both fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome BEFORE being diagnosed with sjogren's, I can say that I'm not too sure about this study. I believe that it is the illness that makes us overweight, and not the other way round.

I belong to a CFS/FMS support group, where people complain of being active and healthy prior to getting ill, and whose physical activities have decreased by a significant percentage due to their illness. All were in better physical shape and much slimmer prior to their fibro diagnosis. Everyone has packed on the pounds AFTER getting ill. These were all highly functioning people with busy lives, who were reduced to being incapacitated to differing degrees.

I have lost a significant amount of weight in the last couple of years, and I can honestly say that I don't feel better. I have more arthritic pain and fatigue, still have sleep problems, and have not recouped any level of energy.This makes it very difficult to exercise, even though I know that even a short walk is still beneficial to my health.

Many studies have been done on CFS and FMS showing that there is a genetic predisposition plus a trigger that can cause certain people to suffer from these illnesses. Fibromyalgia is also very closely related to sjogren's. As a matter of fact all these illnesses show overlapping symptoms. And more importantly, most of us can trace back the onset of our illnesses shortly after the start of a viral infection, an infection that never cleared up, no matter how many doses of antibiotics we took. It's still all a mystery to me, I don't know what to believe anymore, and I don't think doctors know either....

Julia Oleinik said...

Hi Annie - what valuable input. I am so impressed that you were able to lose weight while dealing with all these health issues. It must have been disappointing after all that work to not actually feel any better!

I would have to agree with your comment that the deconditioning and increase in body weight occurred after the onset of disease. I know for me, although I'm not dealing with fibro, before I developed the Sjogren's related fatigue, I definitely weighed less and exercised plenty.

What were your strategies in losing weight successfully?

annie said...

Three years ago, I suddenly got so ill, I didn't know what was happening to me. I could not eat as I had constant heartburn. It was so bad I could not even swallow water. I had dizziness, heart palpitations,breathing problems, was not sleeping at all and ended up in the ER 5 times. They never figured out what was wrong, as the usual tests were done...regular blood work and chest x-rays, and of course, all was perfect. Meanwhile, my asthma meds (Ventolin) were making me have laboured breathing, Benadryl (I thought my allergies had worsened) gave me dizziness and dry mouth, my blood pressure was spiking and blood sugar levels were also abnormal. Living was hell, and I thought I was dying!

I kept doing the rounds of all my doctors, visiting them all on numerous occasions, but no one could find anything wrong. Does this sound familiar to anyone else? At this point, I decided to revisit my naturopath, convinced that if she did not find anything, I was doomed. She was perplexed at my condition, but she immediately had me change my diet to a very bland one, and restricted most foods so that I started with a clean slate. We were doing an elimination diet to see what I could tolerate in terms of food. It took some time, but this eventually worked, and I started sleeping a tad better, breathing better etc. Basically she removed all grains, so I was eating only white rice, no breads or cereals, no soy or dairy products. I only use extra virgin olive oil to cook my foods, and I use it sparingly as I don't tolerate anything fatty or rich in my foods. She removed all meats, and started me on lamb, which is apparently a meat that is low on the allergen scale. She told me to try oatmeal in the morning with rice milk,and some blueberries. I've slowly started adding more veggies, but basically stick to the same bland diet and foods. I am very restricted and really miss dining out, and not eating like the rest of the family. I always cook two meals, one for me and one for the rest of the family.I hope at some point to check out if my food intolerances have worsened, or if all this is caused by our wonderful friend sjogren's.

I have to say that after I was diagnosed with CFS/FMS years ago, I did go through a change of diet, as I was still eating everything up to that point. Through my naturopath, I had some blood work done, and they tested me for intolerances. I was borderline gluten and lactose intolerant, so I eliminated cow's milk products, started using soy, eliminated most white items(sugar, flour etc.) and started more on whole grains, yogurt etc. and was doing really well and was stable,until three years ago, when I took a turn for the worse. I also had oral candida, which everyone had missed. If I would have seen my rheumatologist sooner, I would have been spared the angst of wondering what had been going on. Ironically, he was the last doctor I had thought to see.

Sorry for the really long diatribe. I wish someone had been there for me while I was going through all this. I had to learn of sjogren's the very hard way. This is a horrible illness to have
because it is so difficult to diagnose. As you stated in one of your posts, it takes an average of seven years to get diagnosed. My rheumatologist believes sjogren's might be the source of all my fibro and chronic fatigue syndrome problems. That means I've been ill close to fifteen years!! This illness strikes people different ways, and dry mouth and dry eyes are the least of my problems, even if they cause me discomfort. What works for me is smaller portions, eating really bland and keeping away from foods most people eat.At times, it's very difficult, but you get used to it. By the way, my ELISA testing (food intolerances) was done at a lab in Washington, probably in your neck of the woods (Meridian Valley Lab in Kent? WA.)

Julia Oleinik said...

Yup, Annie, my neck of the woods indeed.

You have been traveling on a very difficult path! My goodness.

Thanks for sharing your experiences. And keep me posted on your progress.