Whisker greetings, Ghost! I usually do snout greetings but I’m not sure if kitties have snouts… But I know they definitely have whiskers because I got to lick some once… So Whisker greetings it is! Please tell us what type of kittie you are, your approximate age, and where you live.
FibroDog: Please tell us what type of animal you are, your age, and where you live.
My name is Lily. I am a 4 year old tri-color Welsh corgi living in Phoenix, Arizona.
FD: Tell us about the human you support: are they male or female? Do you know how old they are? Do they call themselves a name? Like Mom or Dad or Sally or Fred?
My Mom’s name is Kristine. She is 48yrs old, I’d like to tell you how old that is in dog years, but I can’t count that high. My Mom is famous because she blogs at A Life Well Red on WordPress.
FD: Humans are always talking about something called a “Diagonal-orosis”. I think that means “what’s wrong with them”, but I’m not sure. Does your Mom have a “Diagonal-orosis?” Like “Fibro- mryalgeeya” or one those other things that makes her hurt or feel tired a lot? (Note from editor – FibroDog has trouble with big words sometimes – he means “diagnosis” and “fibromyalgia”, in case you couldn’t quite understand him.)
Mom has Fibromyalgia and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.). Mostly she spends a lot of time at home with me, and walking around the house very slowly sometimes. We do go out in the backyard a lot though, where Mom watches me run back and forth chasing the birds off my lawn.
FD: Wow, I’m not even going to try to pronounce that M.E. thing but it sounds pretty rough. What kinds of things do you do to help your Mom when she’s feeling sore or tired or sad from her fibro or M.E.?
When Mom feels especially bad, I give her a hug by nosing underneath her chin and pressing my furry body against her. She also seems to just enjoy watching me play around the yard, and nibble the ears off my stuffed dragon. She says it’s calming, but I think she’d feel better with a chew bone of her own to gnaw on.
FD: Your furry hugs sound awesome, I’ll bet they help your Mom a lot! What kinds of things do you try to avoid doing so your Mom doesn’t feel worse? (I know I accidentally broke my human Mom’s nose once when I was trying to give her a kiss, and that seemed to make her feel even worse for some reason, so I’m extra careful with kisses now). Are there things you have to be careful with so you don’t accidentally make her feel worse? Like not pawing at her too hard or not going potty in the living room when she’s having a bad day?
I’m only about 16 lbs, so I don’t hurt her too much when I perch on her leg to get a better view out the front window. My legs are pretty stubby too, so I can only get so high when I stand up to jump on her and say hi. I also try to be extra obedient on her ‘bad’ days and come inside the first three times I’m called instead of the usual seven.
FD: Wow, I’m impressed Lily, coming inside the first three times you’re called takes some serious commitment! I think I’ve got a ways to go in that department, but what I’m lacking in obedience I make up for in Snout. (At least that’s what Mom and Dad say all the time!) Is there anything else you or Kristine would like to say to our FibroFans out there about what they can do to be a more supportive friend?
The best thing I do for my human is be myself and give her all the furry love that’s in me! Yeah, I’m pretty awesome like that!
FD: Yeah you are pretty awesome Lily! Thank you so much for being my first furry interview, and you’re now officially part of my FibroDog Posse! (why don’t the humans spell it Pawsee?) I hope you don’t mind but I’ll be inviting some kitties and small humans to join the Posse, and possibly even a hedgehog, because FibroDog does not discriminate based on species or prickliness. (Although I have to admit I am rather curious about how that hedgehog manages to give soft fibro-snuzzles, I can’t wait to relay more details on that one!)
FibroDog p.s. – Special thanks to our human Moms Medea and Kristine for typing out our interview, because in case folks haven’t noticed, paws aren’t great for typing. I hope everyone enjoys reading my first interview, and if any other fibro support critters out there would like to be interviewed and join Lily and I in our Fibro Posse please leave your info below, or email my human Mom and Dad at firstname.lastname@example.org. And please check out Lily’s Mom’s blog A Life Well Red – once you read it it you’ll probably want to follow it. That’s what my Mom did.
xoxoxo Snout Out!
Ok everyone, we already know our boy is awfully cute, but look at how photogenic that snout is! We’re still busy working on our plan to get FibroDog integrated with our site, and onto the airwaves/internet waves, so here’s the next thing we need your help with:
What do you think would be the best platforms for FibroDog to make his appearances on and give brief educational presentations about fibromyalgia and chronic pain? So far our Technical Advice Master and the rest of the team have discussed a YouTube channel for videofeeds, plus a facebook fanpage for both kids and grownups to follow. Most of his presentations will be geared toward youngsters who might have a hard time understanding why Mom or Dad or Grandma sometimes can’t play as much because they’re tired, or ways they can help them feel better when they’re hurting, but we realize that grownups will love FibroDog too! (And already do in fact, he’s getting quite a following already and he hasn’t even said anything yet!) We’re thinking one or two main platforms would be ideal, with a few guest visits here on the office blog. But we want your input too – what would be the places that YOU, his listening/reading/viewing public would be most likely to follow him regularly… YouTube? FB? This Blog? Twitter? Vine? Anyplace else you can think of? (Pinterest is a given!) Think of platforms for both kids and adults. Please post your ideas!
- Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain: A Survival Manual (2nd Edition). Jun 30, 2001. by Devin J. Starlanyl and Mary Ellen Copeland. This is my desert-island resource book, I keep copies at home and at my office. (FYI: This is an affiliate link, which means we get a small percentage of money if you purchase this book or any other product through this link, thank you in advance!)
- Devin Starlanyl MD’s website at Sover.net
and Measurement of Symptom Severity”, published in Arthritis Care & Research Vol. 62, No. 5, May 2010, pp 600–610 DOI 10.1002/acr.20140 © 2010, American College of Rheumatology.
- Muscle Trigger Point Anatomy app for smartphones and tablets. The trigger point image above is from this app, and it has wonderful graphics with multiple views of the muscles and common trigger points, and their typical pain referral patterns.
Source: Myofascial Release (MRF)
Now that you know the difference between fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome, and maybe you’re suspecting that you have one or the other or both, you are probably asking yourself “What next?” How are they treated?
First a recap: fibromyalgia is basically a syndrome of pain amplification and sensitivity, while myofascial pain syndrome is basically pain caused by tiny knots (trigger points) in the muscles. Fibro is more of a brain and nervous system problem, while myofascial pain is more of a muscle fiber problem. (Remember, I am really oversimplifying here to make this easy to grasp for folks without a medical background. There are many scientific articles and books available that go into more detail on these conditions, see references below.)
So as you can imagine, treating fibromyalgia is very different from treating myofascial pain. We honestly don’t understand much about fibromyalgia, although advances are being made every year. In my experience there are a variety of causes and types of fibro, so I tackle each case based on what seems to be causing it. Many times I’ll discover along the way that a patient doesn’t really have fibro at all, and instead has hypothyroidism, or chronic muscle pain and fatigue from perimenopause, or hypermobility syndrome causing constant strain on tendons/ligaments/connective tissue, or sleep apnea that causes fibro symptoms from years of poor sleep quality. If none of these are the case, and a patient really has fibromyalgia and no obvious other cause for their symptoms, then the general consensus is to address sleep, maximize serotonin levels in the brain, and find ways to “turn down the volume” of the overactive nervous system. This can be accomplished by various medications, supplements, exercise, acupuncture/Chinese herbs, electrotherapies/laser therapies, massage, etc. I am able to do many of these treatments in my medical practice, and I refer out for the ones I’m not trained in (acupuncture for example.) There are a lot of scams out there aimed at desperate fibro patients, so I am very cautious when it comes to new or unproven treatments, especially if they cost a lot of money. Keeping that caution in mind, however, I do believe if something has been proven to be safe and is relatively inexpensive it’s certainly worth a try if there’s a chance it could help!
Treating myofascial pain is much simpler in theory. It is usually just a matter of disrupting the trigger points/muscle knots, and stretching them out to prevent their return. Trigger points can be disrupted mechanically using massage or acupuncture or electrotherapies, or chemically using oral or topical or injected medications, and providers frequently use a variety of these methods. The tricky part is if the trigger points have been there for many years, or if there is a severe anatomical or other issue that tends to encourage them to return quickly. For example, some patients with hypermobility syndrome continually develop new trigger points and releasing them is a lifelong project, which can seem overwhelming at times. But most people can learn to treat their own trigger points using self massage tools, so they only need to seek professional help periodically.
Hopefully this series of articles helped to clarify the basic differences between fibromyalgia and chronic myofascial pain syndrome, and gave you some ideas about the treatment options available for both conditions. Please leave comments or questions below, and check out the following links for more useful info on both conditions.
National Fibromyalgia Association: http://www.fmaware.org
Devin Starlanyl MD: http://homepages.sover.net/~devstar/
Trigger Point Maps: http://www.triggerpoints.net/information
Multiple studies have shown that exercise is absolutely essential for people with fibromyalgia and other types of chronic pain. The trick is finding the amount of exercise you can do each day without throwing yourself into a full blown flare. A little bit of pain or discomfort in the muscles during or after exercise is ok, but it’s hard to know how much is too much. So I always tell my patients (and myself!) to start with a quarter of what you think you can or should be able to do. Then track how you feel for the rest of the day and the next day in your pain journal. If you’re a little sore do the same amount again. If you’re REALLY sore skip a day, and the next day do half what you did the first time. If you go into a flare skip 2 days, and then only do a quarter of what you did the first time. If you follow these general guidelines you’ll be able to discover the amount of exercise you can do. Be patient- if you haven’t exercised in a long time it will take time to build up stamina again. But we absolutely must find an exercise routine that we can tolerate every day in order to prevent getting weaker and weaker- even with fibro our muscles are able to get stronger and stronger. Go into training to fight fibro! (But not without clearance from your medical provider first!)