Categories
Ailmemts & Remedies

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome

Alternative Name : Cutis hyperelastica

Definition:
Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS)  encompasses several types of inherited connective tissue disorders  that affect your connective tissues — primarily your skin, joints and blood vessel walls. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is uncommon.

CLICK & SEE

You may click to see  the picture

This results in hyperelastic skin that’s fragile and bruises easily, excessive looseness of the joints, blood vessels that are easily damaged and, rarely, rupture of internal organs.

The syndrome is named after two doctors, Edvard Ehlers of Denmark, and Henri-Alexandre Danlos of France, who identified it at the turn of the 20th century.

There are six major types of EDS, categorised according to signs and symptoms, and the condition can range from mild to life-threatening.

1.Hypermobility -Affects 1 in 10,000 to 15,000 and is caused by an autosomal dominant or autosomal recessive mechanism. Mutations in either of two separate genes (which are also involved in Vascular EDS and Tenascin-X deficiency EDS, respectively) may lead to this variant. Extreme flexibility is the hallmark of this type…...CLICK & SEE

2.Classical -Affects approximately 1 in 20,000 to 50,000 people. It is caused by autosomal dominant mechanism and affects type-V collagen, as well as type I. Type 1 typically presents with severe skin involvement, and type 2 presents with mild to moderate skin involvement. CLICK & SEE

3.Vascular-Is an autosomal dominant defect in the type-III collagen synthesis; affecting approximately 1 in 100,000 to 250,000 people. The vascular type is considered one of the more serious forms of Ehlers–Danlos syndrome because blood vessels and organs are more prone to tearing (rupture). Patients with EDS type 4 often express a characteristic facial appearance (large eyes, small chin, thin nose and lips, lobeless ears), have a small stature with a slim build, and typically have thin, pale, translucent skin (veins can usually be seen on the chest and abdomen). About one in four people with vascular type EDS develop a significant health problem by age 20 and more than 80 percent develop life-threatening complications by age 40.

4.Kyphoscoliosis-Is an autosomal recessive defect due to deficiency of an enzyme called lysyl hydroxylase; it is very rare, with fewer than 60 cases reported. The kyphoscoliosis type is characterised by progressive curvature of the spine (scoliosis), fragile eyes, and severe muscle weakness....CLICK & SEE

5.Arthrochalasis-Is also very rare, with about 30 cases reported. It affects type-I collagen. The arthrochalasia type is characterised by very loose joints and dislocations involving both hips….CLICK & SEE

6.Dermatosparaxis -Also very rare, with about 10 cases reported. The dermatosparaxis type is characterised by extremely fragile and sagging skin….CLICK & SEE

Epidemiology:
Ehlers–Danlos Syndrome is an inherited disorder estimated to occur in about 1 in 5000 births worldwide. Ehlers–Danlos affects both males and females of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. Initially, prevalence estimates have previously ranged from 1 in 250,000 to 1 in 500,000 people, but these estimates were soon found to be vastly inaccurate as the disorder received further study and medical professionals became more adept at accurately diagnosing EDS. The prevalence of the six types differs dramatically. The most commonly occurring type is the hypermobility type, followed by the classical type. The other types of EDS are very rare. For example, fewer than 10 infants and children with the dermatosparaxis type have been described worldwide

Symptoms:
Signs vary widely based on which type of EDS the patient has. In each case, however, the signs are ultimately due to faulty or reduced amounts of collagen. EDS most typically affects the joints, skin, and blood vessels, the major signs and symptoms include:

CLICK  & SEE THE PICTURES

*Highly flexible fingers and toes……..
*Loose, unstable joints that are prone to: sprain, dislocation, subluxation (partial dislocation) and *hyperextension (double jointedness)
*Flat feet
*Joint pain without inflammation
*Fatigue, which can be debilitating
*High and narrow palate, resulting in dental crowding
*Vulnerability to chest and sinus infections
*Easy bruising
*Fragile blood vessels resulting from cystic medial necrosis with tendency towards aneurysm (even abdominal aortic aneurysm)
*Velvety-smooth skin which may be stretchy and is often translucent, with blue veins clearly visible on limbs and particularly in the hands
*Abnormal wound healing and scar formation (scars may appear like cigarette burns)
*Low muscle tone and muscle weakness
*Early onset of osteoarthritis
*Cardiac effects: Dysautonomia typically accompanied by Valvular heart disease (such as mitral valve prolapse, which creates an increased risk for infective endocarditis during surgery, as well as possibly progressing to a life-threatening degree of severity of the prognosis of mitral valve prolapse)
*Unexplained “pins and needles” or numbness in extremities
*Difficulty regulating own body temperature, resulting in a vulnerability to the cold and heat. Many patients suffer fatigue and dizziness when exposed to hot conditions, eg. having to sit outside on a hot day
*Severe mouth ulcers. Many patients complain of having several mouth ulcers at any one time. This is believed to be due to tissue fragility and vulnerability to infection
*Food allergies and intolerances are very common
*Sensitivity to medications. Many pain medications cause Nausea and other GI tract complications. *Functional bowel disorders associated with EDS make it very difficult to find safe, effective pain management
Insensitivity to local anesthetics.
*Migraines and headaches, including postural headaches from spontaneous intracranial hypontension
*Fibromyalgia symptoms: Myalgia and arthralgia.
*Arachnodactyly

Other, less common signs and complications may include:

*Osteopenia (low bone density)
*Talipes equinovarus (club foot), especially in the Vascular type
*Deformities of the spine, such as: Scoliosis (curvature of the spine), Kyphosis (a thoracic hump), Tethered spinal cord syndrome, Occipitoatlantoaxial hypermobility,[9] Arnold-Chiari malformation (brain disorder)
*Functional bowel disorders (functional gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome)
*Nerve compression disorders (carpal tunnel syndrome, acroparesthesia, neuropathy)
*Vascular skin conditions: Raynaud’s phenomenon, Livedo reticularis
*Blue sclera
*Otosclerosis (hearing loss)
*Premature rupture of membranes during pregnancy
*Platelet aggregation failure (platelets do not clump together properly)
*Infants with hypermobile joints often appear to have weak muscle tone (hypotonia), which can delay the development of motor skills such as sitting, standing, and walking
*Arterial/intestinal/uterine fragility or rupture
*Swan neck deformity of the fingers

Because it is often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed in childhood, some instances of Ehlers–Danlos syndrome have been mischaracterized as child abuse. The pain associated with this condition is a serious complication.

Causes:-
The types of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome are caused by a variety of genetic alterations (mutations), passed on from parent to child, that disrupt the normal production of collagen. Collagen is a fibrous protein that gives strength and elasticity to connective tissues — skin, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and organ and blood vessel walls.

These genetic mutations alter normal enzyme activity, leaving connective tissues weak and unstable.

Variety of inheritance patterns
Most EDS types are passed along in an inheritance pattern called autosomal dominant. This means you need only one copy of the disease-causing mutation, inherited from either parent, to develop signs and symptoms of the disease. If you inherit the mutation, each of your children will have a 50 percent chance of inheriting the mutation from you.

Diagnosis:
A diagnosis can be made by clinical observation. Both DNA and biochemical studies can be used to help identify affected individuals. In some cases, a skin biopsy has been found to be useful in confirming a diagnosis. Unfortunately, these tests are not sensitive enough to identify all individuals with EDS. If there are multiple affected individuals in a family, it may be possible to perform prenatal diagnosis using a DNA information technique known as a linkage study.

Differential diagnosis:
There are several disorders that have some of the characteristics of Ehlers–Danlos syndrome. For example, in cutis laxa the skin is loose, hanging, and wrinkled. In EDS, the skin can be pulled away from the body but is elastic and returns to normal when let go. In Marfan syndrome, the joints are very mobile and similar cardiovascular complications occur. In the past, Menkes disease, a copper metabolism disorder, was thought to be a form of Ehlers–Danlos syndrome. Because of these similar disorders, a correct diagnosis is very important.
Treatment:
There is no cure for Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. The treatment is supportive. Close monitoring of the cardiovascular system, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and orthopedic instruments (e.g., wheelchairs, bracing) may be helpful. One should avoid activities that cause the joint to lock or overextend.

Doctor may prescribe bracing to stabilize joints. Surgical repair of joints may be necessary at some time. Physicians may also consult a physical and/or occupational therapist to help strengthen muscles and to teach people how to properly use and preserve their joints. To decrease bruising and improve wound healing, some patients have responded to ascorbic acid (vitamin C) by taking 1 to 4 grams daily.

Physical therapy:
Your doctor may refer you to a physical or occupational therapist with specific exercises to strengthen your muscles without causing injury. For most people with EDS, strengthening muscles helps to stabilize joints and reduce muscle fatigue and pain. In addition, your doctor or physical therapist may recommend specific braces to help stabilize joints.

In general, medical intervention is limited to symptomatic therapy. Prior to pregnancy, patients with EDS should have genetic counseling. Children with EDS should be provided with information about the disorder, so they can understand why contact sports and other physically stressful activities should be avoided. Children should be taught early on that demonstrating the unusual positions they can maintain due to loose joints should not be done as this may cause early degeneration of the joints. Family members, teachers and friends should be provided with information about EDS so they can accept and assist the child as necessary.

Lifestyle and home remedies:-
If you have EDS, it’s important to prevent injuries and protect your skin and joints. Here are a few things you can do to safeguard yourself.

*Avoid injury. Avoid contact sports, weightlifting and other activities that increase your risk of injury.

*Use protective gear. Toddlers and young children with severe EDS often dislocate joints and frequently fall down, especially when learning to walk. Consider using protective clothing, guards or padding to protect your child from tumbles and falls.

*Reduce the clutter. To prevent falls and injuries at home, keep walkways and doorways clear of clutter. Avoid loose rugs and electric cords, which can increase your risk of tripping and falling.

*Use assistive devices. Several devices are available to help decrease stress on your joints, such as jar openers, utensils with wide handles, long-handled combs and bath sponges.

*Use mild soaps and sunscreen. To protect easily damaged skin and to guard against premature aging, use mild soaps and wear sunscreen when you’re outside.

Coping and support:
Coping with a lifelong illness is challenging. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may face challenges at home, at work and in your relationships with others.

Here are some suggestions that may help you cope with the challenges of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome:

*Increase your knowledge. Knowing more about EDS can help you take control of your condition. Find a doctor who’s experienced in the management of EDS and learn as much as you can about the type of EDS you have.

*Tell others. Explain your condition to family members, friends and your employer. Ask your employer about any accommodations that you feel will make you a more productive worker. It’s up to you how much information you divulge to your co-workers. You may want to prepare appropriate responses for people who ask questions.

*Build a support system. Cultivate relationships with family and friends who are positive and caring. It may also help to talk to an unrelated third party, such as a medical social worker, counselor or clergy member. Some people find help by joining a support group for people with EDS or people with chronic illnesses. The Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation’s Web site has information on local and regional support groups.

Helping your child cope:
If you are a parent of a child with EDS, consider these suggestions to help your child:

*Maintain normalcy. As much as possible, treat your child like normal children. Ask others — grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers — to do the same.Be open. Allow your child to express his or her feelings about having EDS, even if it means being angry at times. Parents of children with EDS have sometimes encountered suspicions of child abuse because of frequent bruises and cuts.Make sure your child’s teachers and other caregivers know about your child’s condition. Review with them appropriate caregiving skills, particularly in the event of a fall or injury.

*Promote activity. Allow your child to participate in physical activities with appropriate boundaries. Discourage contact sports while encouraging non-weight-bearing activities, such as swimming. Your child’s doctor or physical therapist may also have recommendations.

*Find the best routine. Work with your child’s teachers and school administrators to make any necessary modifications in his or her schedule or responsibilities. These modifications may include giving your child extra time to move from class to class, providing him or her with an extra set of textbooks so that these books won’t need to be carried home, and making arrangements for assignments to be sent home when your child misses school because of his or her condition.

Prevention:
If you have a personal or family history of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and you’re thinking about starting a family, you may benefit from talking to a genetic counselor — a health care professional trained to assess the risk of inherited disorders. Genetic counseling can help you understand the inheritance pattern of the type of EDS that affects you and the risks it poses for your children.

In other animals:-  CLICK & SEE
Ehlers–Danlos-like syndromes have been shown to be hereditary in Himalayan cats, some domestic shorthair cats, and in certain breeds of cattle. It is seen as a sporadic condition in domestic dogs.

DSLD: Degenerative Suspensory Ligament Desmitis is a similar condition now being researched in all breeds of horses. Though it was originally notated in the Peruvian Paso and thought to be a condition of overwork and older age, the disease is being recognized in all age groups and all activity levels. It has even been noted in newborn foals. The latest research has led to the renaming of the disease after the possible systemic and hereditary components now being delineated by the University of Georgia. Equine Systemic Proteoglycan Accumulation

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ehlers%E2%80%93Danlos_syndrome
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ehlers-danlos-syndrome/DS00706
http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/ehlers1.shtml

Categories
Ailmemts & Remedies

Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF)

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Alternative Name:
Idiopathic diffuse interstitial pulmonary fibrosis; IPF; Pulmonary fibrosis; Cryptogenic fibrosing alveolitis; CFA; Fibrosing alveolitis; Usual interstitial pneumonitis; UIP

Definition:
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is scarring or thickening of the lungs without a known cause. Gradually, the air sacs of the lungs become replaced by fibrotic tissue. When the scar forms, the tissue becomes thicker causing an irreversible loss of the tissue’s ability to transfer oxygen into the bloodstream.It is a progressive interstitial lung disease with an unknown cause.More specifically, IPF is defined as a distinctive type of chronic fibrosing interstitial pneumonia of unknown cause associated with a histological pattern of usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP).

click & see the pictures

Causes:-
No one knows what causes pulmonary fibrosis or why some people get it. It causes the lungs to become scarred and stiffened. This stiffening makes it increasingly difficult to breathe. In some people the disease gets worse quickly (over months to a few years), but other people have little worsening of the disease over time.

Traditional theories have postulated that it might be an autoimmune disorder, or the after effects of an infection, viral in nature. There is a growing body of evidence which points to a genetic predisposition. A mutation in the SP-C protein has been found to exist in families with a history of Pulmonary Fibrosis. The most current thinking is that the fibrotic process is a reaction to microscopic injury to the lung. While the exact cause remains unknown, associations have been made with the following:

*Inhaled environmental and occupational pollutants
*Cigarette smoking
*Diseases such as Scleroderma, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus and Sarcoidosis
*Certain medications
*Therapeutic radiation

The condition is believed to result from an inflammatory response to an unknown substance. “Idiopathic” means no cause can be found. The disease occurs most often in people between 50 – 70 years old.

Symptoms:-

*Chest pain (occasionally)
*Chronic dry, hacking cough
*Decreased tolerance for activity
*Shortness of breath during activity that lasts for months or years and over time will also occur at rest
*Fatigue and weakness
*Discomfort in the chest
*Loss of appetite
*Rapid weight loss

 

Prevalence of Pulmonary Fibrosis:-
There are five million people worldwide that are affected by this disease. In the United States there are over 200,000 patients with Pulmonary Fibrosis. As a consequence of misdiagnosis the actual numbers may be significantly higher. Of these more than 40,000 expire annually. This is the same as die from Breast Cancer. Typically, patients are in their forties and fifties when diagnosed. However, diagnoses have ranged from age seven to the eighties. Current research indicates that many infants are afflicted by Pediatric Interstitial Lung Disease. At this time there is limited data on prevalence for this group.

Diagnosis:-
Exams and Tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your medical history. Your doctor will ask whether you have been exposed to asbestos.

Patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis have abnormal breath sounds called crackles. Patients with advanced disease may have blue-colored skin (cyanosis) around the mouth or in the fingernails due to low oxygen.

 

Examination of the fingers and toes may show abnormal enlargement of the fingernail bases (clubbing).

The diagnosis of IPF can be made by demonstrating UIP pattern on lung biopsy in a patient without clinical features suggesting an alternate diagnosis (see clinical features, above). Establishing the diagnosis of IPF without a lung biopsy has been shown to be reliable when expert clinicians and radiologists concur that the presenting features are typical of IPF. Based on this evidence, the 2002 ATS/ERS Multidisciplinary Consensus Statement on the Idiopathic Interstitial Pneumonias proposes the following criteria for establishing the diagnosis of IPF without a lung biopsy:

Major criteria (all 4 required):

*Exclusion of other known causes of interstitial lung disease (drugs, exposures, connective tissue diseases)

*Abnormal pulmonary function tests with evidence of restriction (reduced vital capacity) and impaired gas exchange (pO2, p(A-a)O2, DLCO)

*Bibasilar reticular abnormalities with minimal ground glass on high-resolution CT scans

*Transbronchial lung biopsy or bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) showing no features to support an alternative diagnosis

Minor criteria (3 of 4 required):

*Age > 50

*Insidious onset of otherwise unexplained exertional dyspnea

*Duration of illness > 3 months

*Bibasilar inspiratory crackles

Tests that help diagnose idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis include the following:

*Bronchoscopy with transbronchial lung biopsy
*Chest CT scan
*Chest x-ray
*Measurements of blood oxygen level
*Pulmonary function tests
*Surgical lung biopsy
*Tests for connective tissue diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or scleroderma

Treatment :-

There are currently no effective treatments or a cure for Pulmonary Fibrosis. The pharmacological agents designed to treat lung scarring are still in the experimental phase while the treatments intended to suppress inflammation have only limited success in reducing the fibrotic progress.

No known cure exists for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Medications such as corticosteroids and cytotoxic drugs may be given to reduce swelling (inflammation), but these treatments usually don’t work. Oxygen is given to patients who have low blood oxygen levels.

There is a lack of large, randomized placebo-controlled trials of therapy for IPF. Moreover, many of the earlier studies were based on the hypothesis that IPF is an inflammatory disorder, and hence studied anti-inflammatory agents such as corticosteroids. Another problem has been that studies conducted prior to the more recent classification of idiopathic interstitial pneumonias failed to distinguish IPF/UIP from NSIP in particular. Hence, many patients with arguably more steroid-responsive diseases were included in earlier studies, confounding the interpretation of their results.

Small early studies demonstrated that the combination of prednisone with either cyclophosphamide or azathioprine over many months had very modest, if any, beneficial effect in IPF, and were associated with substantial adverse effects (predominantly myelotoxicity). Other treatments studied have included interferon gamma-1b, the antifibrotic agent pirfenidone and bosentan. Pirfenidone and bosentan are currently being studied in patients with IPF while interferon gamma-1b is no longer considered a viable treatment option. Finally, the addition of the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine to prednisone and azathioprine produced a slight benefit in terms of FVC and DLCO over 12 months of follow up. However, the major benefit appeared to be prevention of the myelotoxicity associated with azathioprine

Because the origin and development of the disease is not completely understood, misdiagnosis is common. Varying terminology and lack of standard diagnostic criteria have complicated the gathering of accurate statistics about people with pulmonary fibrosis. Supplemental oxygen improves the quality of life and exercise capacity. Single lung transplant may be considered for some patients. Pulmonary Fibrosis is a very complex disease and the prediction of longevity of patients after diagnosis vary greatly.

Some patients with advanced pulmonary fibrosis may need a lung transplant. Lung rehabilitation will not cure the lung disease, but it can help maintain exercise capacity.

There are a number of new trials testing drugs to treat Pulmonary Fibrosis. For more information contact us at:

Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation
1332 North Halsted Street Suite 201
Chicago, Illinois 60642-2642
(312) 587-9272 fax (312) 587- 9273

Support Groups
You can ease the stress of illness by joining a support group where members share common experiences and problems.

You may click to see about Herbal remedies of IPF………..(1)……(2)…….(3).…….(4).…….(5)

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See also: Lung disease – support group

Prognosis:-

Some patients may improve when they are treated with corticosteroids or cytotoxic drugs, but in most people the disease can get worse even with treatment. This worsening can happen quickly, or very slowly.

Possible Complications:-
*Chronic hypoxemia (low blood oxygen level)
*Cor pulmonale
*Pneumothorax
*Polycythemia (abnormally high levels of red blood cells)
*Pulmonary hypertension
*Respiratory failure

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop a regular cough or shortness of breath.

Prevention
Avoiding smoking may help prevent this condition, but how to prevent the cause is not exactly known.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose

Resources:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/MEDLINEPLUS/ency/article/000069.htm
http://www.pulmonaryfibrosis.org/ipf.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiopathic_pulmonary_fibrosis

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Herbs & Plants

Shavegrass.

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Botanical Name: Equisetum arvense
Family: Equisetaceae (horsetail)
Other common names: Pewterwort, Scouring Rush, Shavegrass, Equisetum, Queue de Cheval, Bottlebrush, Dutch Rushes, Giant Horsetail , Dutch Rushes, Paddock-pipes, Pewterwort, Scouring Rush, Toadpipe

Habitat: Horsetail is widely distributed throughout the temperate climate zones of the Northern hemisphere, including Asia, North America and Europe.
Description:Horsetail is an herbaceous perennial with a hairy, tuberous rhizome. The stems are erect, without leaves or hairs and have black-toothed sheaths with whorls of spreading, green branches.
HARVEST: Infertile plants in late summer. Horsetail is an ancient plant which goes through two stages of development. In early summer a fertile form rises and dies back to be followed by the more well known late summer, but infertile form. It is this later incarnation that is used.

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MEDICINAL USES:
An all-purpose herb that is good for the whole body.
Heavy in silica; strengthens fingernails and hair, especially good for split ends.
Helps body utilize and hold calcium; used in herbal calcium combinations.
Helps kidney problems, especially kidney stones.
Kills eggs of parasites and expels parasites.
Helps to dissolve tumors.
Good for eye, ear, nose, throat and glandular disorders.
Has been used in the following:

Bladder,Diuretic, Hair, Kidneys, Kidney stones , Expels parasites, worms
A source of calcium and silica.

Horsetail is a healing herb, rich in nutrients and high in silica, which helps the body absorb calcium and promotes strong, healthy nails, teeth, hair, skin and, perhaps most importantly, strong bones. This is particularly beneficial for countering the bone loss and osteoporosis experienced by menopausal women. Horsetail has strong astringent properties that have been used to control internal and external bleeding for centuries, and it also acts on the genitourinary tract to relieve many urinary ailments.

Horsetail is rich in silica, which helps to soothe and strengthen connective tissue. Silicon is a vital component for bone and cartilage formation, and it helps the body to absorb and utilize calcium,

which is of great value in treating fractures and bone diseases, including rickets and osteoporosis. Horsetail is used to strengthen bones, teeth, nails and hair. The improved cartilage helps to lessen inflammation and combat joint pain, arthritis, gout, muscle cramps, hemorrhoids, spasms and rheumatism. A French company was awarded a patent that includes isolated silica compounds from Horsetail for treating many bone disorders and rheumatoid arthritis.

The beta-carotene content in Horsetail, a compound closely related to vitamin A and sometimes the precursor to vitamin A, is believed to be beneficial to good eye health. Researchers have claimed that this nutrient may significantly decrease the risk of developing night blindness, dryness of the conjunctiva and cornea and other eye disorders.

The highly nutritious qualities of Horsetail has been effective in promoting healthy hair and nails. The silicon and magnesium content in Horsetail is said to be very helpful for improving the quality of hair. There are claims that silicon (which may be found in vegetables, fruits, horsetails and oats, etc.) will strengthen hair and cause thickening of nails and hair within weeks. There are also reports that it promotes faster growth.

It is used for the treatment of prostate problems, urinary tract infection, kidney stones, incontinence, cystitis and urethritis as well as arthritis and hemorrhage. It is helpful for repairing connective tissue and cartilage because it has high contents of silica. It is also used in healing wounds.

As a mild diuretic, Horsetail has been used to promote urination and helps to relieve kidney and gallbladder disorders. This is also said to be helpful for edema in some cases of arthritis and swelling of the legs, as well as tuberculostatic conditions. Horsetail is an herb used to treat a urine infection and an enlarged prostate gland in men. The herb is used to reduce urinary tract irritation and help relieve prostatitis, cystitis and urethritis.

Horsetail’s further effects on the urinary tract have been used to treat enuresis (bed wetting) in children and incontinence (loss of urine) in adults. Horsetail is considered mild enough for use by delicate and weak persons (although not for prolonged periods of time).

Horsetail is a powerful astringent that has made it effective for treating both internal (bleeding ulcers, etc.) and external bleeding. Those same properties have been employed to treat urinary incontinence and bed-wetting.

Women may not only find Horsetail beneficial for strengthening bones, hair and nails, but the silica is also thought to promote the growth of collagen (the protein found in connective tissue), which is a great help for improving skin health. Horsetail may be added to skin care products and to anti-ageing lotions.

When used externally, Horsetail has been used to stop bleeding wounds and promote rapid healing. It is thought to be a good wash for swollen eyelids and when used in a bath, will invigorate the body and increase circulation and metabolic rate by feeding the body through the skin.

Recommended Dosage:

Take two (2) capsules, two (2) to three (3) times each day with water at mealtimes.

 

Horsetail contains chemicals that have a mild diuretic action–they promote the loss of water from the body. Taken orally for a few days, at most, horsetail may relieve mild swelling caused by excess water in the body. Historically, it has also been used to treat bladder, kidney, and urinary tract infections, but prescription diuretics (“water pills”) and antibiotics are now much more effective for both of these uses.

More recently, horsetail has been studied for its possible usefulness in treating arthritis, osteoporosis, and other conditions of bones and cartilage. Horsetail contains relatively large amounts of silica and smaller amounts of calcium. Both silica and calcium are components of bones, joints, and connective tissues such as tendons and ligaments. It is believed that proteins in body tissues need silica to combine properly. Isolated results from early studies of animals show that horsetail may also have some pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects, which could add to its potential as a treatment for arthritis and related conditions. Some case reports relate the use of horsetail to lower incidences of osteoporosis. However, more research–including placebo-controlled studies in humans–needs to be conducted to determine whether or not horsetail may be safe and effective for bone and joint conditions.

Other chemicals in horsetail have an astringent effect that may lessen bleeding and speed healing of minor skin injuries such as cuts and scrapes when it is applied to the skin. An astringent helps shrink and tighten the top layers of skin or mucous membranes, thereby reducing secretions, relieving irritation, and improving tissue firmness. Oil distilled from horsetail has shown some anti-infective effects in laboratory studies. Because it may tighten skin tissue, horsetail is often included in nonprescription “anti-aging” skin care products.

COSMETIC:
Used for brittle nails: Make a decoction of 2 oz. dry herb in 3¾ C. (1½ pint) water for 20 minutes; soak nails.

Contraindications:
Pregnant and nursing women or men with prostate cancer should avoid Horsetail. This herb should not be used for prolonged periods of time nor in excessive amounts (many times the recommended dosage). Older adults, children and people with cardiac disease or high blood pressure should not use the herb without first consulting a physician.

Other Uses:
VETERINARY:
The tea has been used for sores on domestic animals.

DYE:
The sterile stalks produce yellow with an alum mordant; gray-green with copperas mordant; grass green with blue vitriol mordant.

GARDENING:
Biodynamic treatment for fungus diseases and rusts: Take 1½ oz. of dried herb and cover with cold water; bring to a boil and let boil 20 minutes; cool and strain; use one part to 19 parts of water and use as a spray.
PLANT DECOCTION = Slowly simmer 1 heaping cup of cut plant in 1 quart of water for 20 minutes; strain and dilute in 2 gallons of water; stir vigorously; spray with a fine mist sprayer; the more frequently it is used, the more diluted it should gradually be.
For POWDERY MILDEW = Cover fresh picked plants with water; allow to ferment 10 days; dilute and use as a spray.

Disclaimer:

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://www.drugdigest.org/DD/DVH/HerbsWho/0,3923,4126%7CShave%252Dgrass,00.html
http://www.herbalextractsplus.com/horsetail.cfm
http://www.morethanalive.com/Horsetail-Shavegrass-cut
http://www.herbsguide.net/horsetail.html

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Categories
Ailmemts & Remedies

Lupus

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Definition:
Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when the body’s natural defence against infections – goes wrong.When your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems, including your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, heart and lungs.

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Lupus occurs more frequently in women than it does in men, though it isn’t clear why. The outlook for people with lupus was once grim, but diagnosis and treatment of lupus has improved considerably. With treatment, most people with lupus can lead active lives.

Causes:

The exact cause is not known, but certain triggers, such as viral infections and changes in hormone levels at puberty, the menopause and following pregnancy, have been linked to lupus. Often other family members will also have lupus or other immune system-related illnesses, known autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Autoimmune disease means that instead of just attacking foreign substances, such as bacteria and viruses, your immune system also turns against healthy tissue. This leads to inflammation and damage to various parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels and brain.In lupus the immune system becomes overactive and produces an excess of antibodies that harm the body itself.Lupus is not infectious or contagious.

Doctors don’t know what causes autoimmune diseases, such as lupus. It’s likely that lupus results from a combination of your genetics and your environment. Doctors believe that you may inherit a predisposition to lupus, but not lupus itself. Instead, people with an inherited predisposition for lupus may only develop the disease when they come into contact with something in the environment that can trigger lupus, such as a medication or a virus.

Types of lupus:
Four types of lupus exist. Though similar, each type of lupus has a different prognosis and treatment.

* Systemic lupus erythematosus can affect nearly any part of your body. Body systems most commonly involved include the skin, joints, lungs, kidneys and blood. When people talk about lupus, they’re usually referring to systemic lupus erythematosus.
* Discoid lupus erythematosus affects only the skin. People with discoid lupus, also called cutaneous lupus, experience a circular rash on the face, neck and scalp. A small number of people with discoid lupus may develop systemic lupus erythematosus, though it isn’t possible to predict who will develop the more serious form of lupus.
* Drug-induced lupus erythematosus occurs after you take certain prescription medications. Not everyone who takes these medications develops lupus. Drug-induced lupus affects a wide variety of body systems. Signs and symptoms usually go away when you stop taking the medication that caused your lupus.
* Neonatal lupus is a rare form of lupus that affects newborn babies. A mother with certain antibodies that are linked to autoimmune diseases can pass them to the developing fetus — even if the mother has no signs or symptoms of an autoimmune disease. The antibodies can cause neonatal lupus. A baby with neonatal lupus may experience a rash in the weeks following birth. Neonatal lupus may last about six months before disappearing.

Symptoms:
No two cases of lupus are exactly alike. Signs and symptoms may come on suddenly or develop slowly, may be mild or severe, and may be temporary or permanent. Most people with lupus experience episodes — called “flares” — of worsening signs and symptoms that eventually improve or even disappear completely for a time.

The two most common groups of symptoms are joint and muscle aches and pains and extreme fatigue and weakness.With systemic lupus, almost any part of the body can be affected so there are many other symptoms that can arise.The skin may have a rash, characteristically a so-called “butterfly rash” that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose.Often, the rash is made worse by exposure to sunlight.

If a rash is the only symptom a person has then this form of lupus is called cutaneous or discoid lupus.In comparison, a person with systemic lupus (sometimes called systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE) may also experience dry eyes, hair loss, chest and abdominal pains, depression, kidney problems, headaches, flu-like symptoms, swollen glands and poor circulation.Women with lupus may also experience recurrent miscarriages.

The signs and symptoms of lupus that you experience will depend on which body systems are affected by the disease. But, in general, lupus signs and symptoms may include:

* Fatigue
* Fever
* Weight loss or gain
* Joint pain, stiffness and swelling
* Butterfly-shaped rash (malar rash) on the face that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose
* Skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure
* Mouth sores
* Hair loss (alopecia)
* Fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
* Shortness of breath
* Chest pain
* Dry eyes
* Easy bruising
* Anxiety
* Depression
* Memory loss

Outlook:

Some people with lupus have only minor symptoms that need no treatment. Others can have multiple symptoms that are severe.The course of the disease is different for each person. In some it will disappear completely, for others the condition waxes and wanes or gets progressively worse.Lupus can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms and disease pattern varies so much from person to person.However, there are blood tests available to help spot the condition.Decades ago people used to die from lupus, partly because it was often diagnosed late and partly because treatments were not as effective as they are today.Now most people with lupus can expect to live a normal life span.

Complications:
Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many areas of your body, including your:

* Kidneys. Lupus can cause serious kidney damage, and kidney failure is one of the leading causes of death among people with lupus. A blood test called serum creatinine level is used to monitor kidney function. Signs and symptoms of kidney problems may include generalized itching, chest pain, nausea, vomiting and weight gain.
* Central nervous system. If your central nervous system is affected by lupus, you may experience headaches, dizziness, memory problems, behavior changes, even seizures.
* Blood and blood vessels. Lupus may lead to blood problems, including anemia and increased risk of bleeding or blood clotting. It can also cause inflammation of the blood vessels (vasculitis).
* Lungs. Having lupus increases your chances of developing an inflammation of the chest cavity lining (pleurisy) that can make breathing painful. You may also be more susceptible to a noninfectious form of pneumonia.
* Heart. Lupus can cause inflammation of your heart muscle (myocarditis and endocarditis), your arteries (coronary vasculitis) or heart membrane (pericarditis). Having lupus also greatly increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. Controlling high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol, not smoking, and getting regular exercise are essential to help reduce the risk of heart disease.
* Infection. People with lupus are vulnerable to infection because both the disease and its treatments — corticosteroid and cytotoxic drugs, in particular — affect the immune system. And in a vicious cycle, infection can bring on a lupus flare, increasing the risk of infection even more.
* Cancer. Having lupus appears to increase your risk of cancer — especially non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which affects the lymph system; lung cancer; and liver and bile duct cancers. Immunosuppressant drugs that are sometimes used to treat lupus also can increase the risk of cancer.
* Bone tissue death (avascular necrosis). This occurs when the blood supply to a bone diminishes, often leading to tiny breaks in the bone and eventually to the bone’s collapse. The hip joint is commonly affected, although avascular necrosis can occur in other bones as well. Avascular necrosis can be caused by lupus itself or by high doses of corticosteroids used to treat the disease.
* Pregnancy complications. Women with lupus have an increased risk of miscarriage. Some women with lupus experience a flare during pregnancy. Lupus increases the risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy (preeclampsia) and preterm birth.

Risk factors:

While doctors don’t know what causes lupus in many cases, they have identified factors that may increase your risk of the disease, including:

* Sex. Lupus is more common in women than in men.
* Age. Although lupus affects people of all ages, including infants, children and older adults, it’s most often diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 45.
* Race. Lupus is more common in blacks and in Asians.
* Sunlight. Exposure to the sun may bring on lupus skin lesions or trigger an internal response in susceptible people. Exactly why ultraviolet radiation has this effect isn’t well understood, but scientists suspect that sunlight may cause skin cells to express certain proteins on their surface. Antibodies that are normally present in the body then latch onto these proteins, initiating an inflammatory response. Damaged skin cells also seem to die more frequently in people with lupus, leading to even more inflammation.
* Certain prescription medications. Drug-induced lupus results from the long-term use of certain prescription drugs. Although many medications can potentially trigger lupus, examples of drugs most clearly linked with the disease include the antipsychotic chlorpromazine, high blood pressure medications such as hydralazine, the tuberculosis drug isoniazid and the heart medication procainamide, among others. It usually takes several months or years of therapy with these drugs before symptoms appear, and even then, only a small percentage of people will ever develop lupus.
* Infection with Epstein-Barr virus. Almost everyone has been infected with a common human virus called Epstein-Barr virus. Epstein-Barr virus causes nonspecific signs and symptoms, such as fever and sore throat. Once the initial infection subsides, the virus remains dormant in the cells of your immune system unless something reactivates the virus. For reasons that aren’t clear, recurrent Epstein-Barr infections seem to increase the risk of developing lupus.
* Exposure to chemicals. It’s difficult to prove that chemicals can cause or increase the risk of a disease. But some studies have shown that people who work in jobs that involve exposure to mercury and silica may have an increased risk of lupus.

Diagnosis:
Diagnosing lupus is difficult because signs and symptoms vary considerably from person to person. Signs and symptoms of lupus may change over time and overlap with those of many other disorders. For these reasons, doctors may not initially consider lupus until the signs and symptoms become more obvious. Even then, lupus can be challenging to diagnose because nearly all people with lupus experience fluctuations in disease activity. At times the disease may become severe and at other times subside completely.

American College of Rheumatology criteria for a lupus diagnosis
The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has developed clinical and laboratory criteria to help physicians diagnose and classify lupus. If you have four of the 11 criteria at one time or individually over time, you probably have lupus. Your doctor may also consider the diagnosis of lupus even if you have fewer than four of these signs and symptoms. The criteria identified by the ACR include:

* Face rash, which doctors call a malar rash, that is butterfly shaped and covers the bridge of the nose and spreads across the cheeks
* Scaly rash, called a discoid rash, which appears as raised, scaly patches
* Sun-related rash, which appears after exposure to sunlight
* Mouth sores, which are usually painless
* Joint pain and swelling that occurs in two or more joints
* Swelling of the linings around the lungs or the heart
* Kidney disease
* A neurological disorder, such as seizures or psychosis
* Low blood counts, such as low red blood count, low platelet count (thrombocytopenia), or a low white cell count (leukopenia)
* Positive anti-nuclear antibody tests, which indicate that you may have an autoimmune disease
* Other positive blood tests that may indicate an autoimmune disease, such as a positive double-stranded anti-DNA test, positive anti-Sm test, positive anti-phospholipid antibody test or false-positive syphilis test

Laboratory tests:

Your doctor may order blood and urine tests to determine your diagnosis, including:

* Complete blood count. This test measures the number of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets as well as the amount of hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells. Results may indicate you have anemia, which commonly occurs in lupus. A low white blood cell or platelet count may occur in lupus as well.
* Erythrocyte sedimentation rate. This blood test determines the rate at which red blood cells settle to the bottom of a tube in an hour. A faster than normal rate may indicate a systemic disease, such as lupus. The sedimentation rate isn’t specific for any one disease, but it may be elevated if you have lupus, another inflammatory condition or an infection.
* Kidney and liver assessment. Blood tests can assess how well your kidneys and liver are functioning. Lupus can affect these organs.
* Urinalysis. An examination of a sample of your urine may show an increased protein level or red blood cells in the urine, which may occur if lupus has affected your kidneys.
* Antinuclear antibody (ANA) test. A positive test for the presence of these antibodies — produced by your immune system — indicates a stimulated immune system, which is common in lupus and other autoimmune diseases. A positive ANA doesn’t always mean that you have lupus, however. ANA levels can be elevated if you have an infection or if you’re taking certain medications. If you test positive for ANA, your doctor may advise more-specific antibody testing and refer you to a rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in musculoskeletal and autoimmune disorders such as arthritis or lupus.
* Chest X-ray. An image of your chest may reveal abnormal shadows that suggest fluid or inflammation in your lungs. It may also show an enlarged heart as a result of a buildup of fluid within the pericardium (pericardial effusion).
* Electrocardiogram (ECG). This test measures the pattern of electrical impulses generated in your heart. It can help identify irregular rhythms or damage.
* Syphilis test. A false-positive result on a syphilis test can indicate anti-phospholipid antibodies in your blood, another indication of lupus. The presence of anti-phospholipid antibodies has been associated with an increased risk of blood clots, strokes and recurrent miscarriages.

Modern Treatment:
Treatment for lupus depends on your signs and symptoms. Determining whether your signs and symptoms should be treated and what medications to use requires a careful discussion of the benefits and risks with your doctor. As your signs and symptoms flare and subside, you and your doctor may find that you’ll need to change medications or dosages.

The aim of treatment is to relieve the symptoms and prevent permanent damage to organs such as the kidney.Some patients are given low dose aspirin to help ease the joint and muscle pains and reduce any inflammation.Anti-malaria drugs also help with the inflammation and have the added bonus of helping to guard the skin against rashes triggered by exposure to sunlight.

Immunosuppressant drugs can be used to dampen down the overactive immune response, as can steroids.People with lupus may be more likely to develop other medical conditions such as blood clots, osteoporosis and coronary artery disease.Drugs are available to help treat these.Those with lupus can also help themselves by avoiding direct sunlight and getting plenty of rest, as well as following a healthy lifestyle in general, with a well balanced diet and regular exercise.

Alternative Medication:
If your medications aren’t controlling all of your signs and symptoms or if you’re frustrated by lupus flares, you might turn to complementary and alternative medicine for solutions. Mainstream doctors are becoming more open to discussing these options with their patients. But, since few of these treatments have been extensively studied in clinical trials, it’s difficult to assess whether these treatments are helpful for lupus. In some cases, the risks of these treatments aren’t known.

If you’re interested in trying complementary and alternative medicine therapies, discuss these treatments with your doctor first. He or she can help you weigh the benefits and risks and tell you if the treatments will interfere with your current lupus medications.

Some common complementary and alternative treatments for lupus include:

* Fish oil. Fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids that may be beneficial for people with lupus. Preliminary studies have found some promise, though more study is needed. Side effects of fish oil supplements can include nausea, belching and a fishy taste in the mouth. Fish oil can interfere with medications, so check with your doctor first.
* Flaxseed. Flaxseed contains a fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid, which may decrease inflammation in the body. Some studies have found that flaxseed may improve kidney function in people who have lupus that affects the kidneys, though more study is needed. Side effects of flaxseed include bloating and abdominal pain. Flaxseed can also interfere with medications, so check with your doctor first.

Other complementary and alternative medicine treatments are available. Discuss the options with your doctor.

Lifestyle and Home Remedies
Take steps to care for your body if you have lupus. Simple steps can help you prevent lupus flares and, should they occur, better cope with the signs and symptoms you experience. Try to:

* Get adequate rest. People with lupus often experience persistent fatigue that’s different from normal tiredness and that isn’t necessarily relieved by rest. For that reason, it can be hard to judge when you need to slow down. Many experts recommend eight to 10 hours of sleep a night and naps or breaks during the day as needed. Friends and family members need to understand and respect your need for rest.
* Be sun smart. Because ultraviolet light can trigger a flare, wear protective clothing such as a hat, long-sleeved shirt and long pants, and use sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 every time you go outside, even if it’s just a quick trip to the mailbox. Be sure that your ears, scalp and the backs of your hands are protected. Avoid tanning beds and stay out of the sun entirely when it’s strongest, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Because fluorescent and halogen lights also can emit UV rays and thus aggravate lupus, you may need to wear sunscreen and protective clothing indoors or use plastic devices that block UV emissions from indoor lights.
* Get regular exercise. Exercise can help you recover from a flare, reduce your risk of heart attack, help fight depression and promote general well-being. Exercise as much as your body allows — aim for 30 minutes of activity most days of the week. You’ll likely feel fatigued and not up to exercising sometimes, and that’s OK. Rest when you need to. Time outdoor activities so that you avoid the sun when it’s most intense, and if you’re having a flare, stay out of the sun entirely.
* Don’t smoke. Smoking increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and can worsen the effects of lupus on your heart and blood vessels.
* Eat a healthy diet. A healthy diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Sometimes you may have dietary restrictions, especially if you have high blood pressure, kidney damage or gastrointestinal problems. And although no specific foods have been shown to cause or worsen lupus, it’s best to avoid any food that seems to make your symptoms worse.

Coping and support:

Coping with lupus can be stressful. People with lupus often experience anxiety, depression and frustration because the disease is unpredictable. Knowing you have a serious disease can also be scary. To help you cope with lupus, try to:

* Learn all you can about lupus. Write down all the questions you have about lupus and ask them at your next appointment. Ask your doctor or nurse for reputable sources of further information. The more you know about lupus, the more confident you’ll feel in your treatment choices.
* Gather support among your friends and family. Talk about lupus with your friends and family. They may have questions about lupus and how it affects your life. Answer their questions honestly. Explain ways your friends and family can help out when you’re having flares. Lupus can be frustrating for your loved ones because they usually can’t see it and you may not appear sick. They can’t tell if you’re having a good day or a bad day unless you tell them. Be open about what you’re feeling so that your friends and family know what to expect.
* Take time for yourself. Cope with stress in your life by taking time for yourself. Use that time to read, meditate, listen to music or write in a journal. Find activities that calm and renew you.
* Connect with others who have lupus. Talk to other people who have lupus. You can connect with other people who have lupus through support groups in your community or through online message boards. Though your friends and family love you, sometimes you’ll feel as if they can’t quite understand what you’re feeling. Other people with lupus can offer unique support because they’re facing many of the same obstacles and frustrations that you’re facing.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose

Resources:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/medical_notes/4806634.stm
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/lupus/DS00115/DSECTION=coping%2Dand%2Dsupport

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Ailmemts & Remedies

Fibromyalgia

Definition:-

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain in your muscles, ligaments and tendons, as well as fatigue and multiple tender points — places on body where slight pressure causes pain. Fibromyalgia is more common in women than in men. Previously, fibromyalgia was known by other names such as fibrositis, chronic muscle pain syndrome, psychogenic rheumatism and tension myalgias.

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It is a disorder classified by the presence of chronic widespread pain and tactile allodynia. While the criteria for such an entity have not yet been thoroughly developed, the recognition that fibromyalgia involves more than just pain has led to the frequent use of the term “fibromyalgia syndrome”. It is not contagious, and recent studies suggest that people with fibromyalgia may be genetically predisposed. The disorder is not directly life-threatening. The degree of symptoms may vary greatly from day to day with periods of flares (severe worsening of symptoms) or remission; however, the disorder is generally perceived as non-progressive.

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Although the intensity of symptoms may vary, they’ll probably never disappear completely. It may be reassuring to know, however, that fibromyalgia isn’t progressive or life-threatening. Treatments and self-care steps can improve fibromyalgia symptoms and general health.

Incidence: It affects more females than males, with a ratio of 9:1 by American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria. Fibromyalgia is seen in about 2% of the general population. It is most commonly diagnosed in individuals between the ages of 20 and 50, though onset can occur in childhood.

Signs and symptoms:-
The defining symptoms of fibromyalgia are chronic, widespread pain and tenderness to light touch. There is also typically moderate to severe fatigue. Those affected may also experience heightened sensitivity of the skin (also called allodynia), tingling of the skin (often needle-like), achiness in the muscle tissues, prolonged muscle spasms, weakness in the limbs, and nerve pain. Chronic sleep disturbances are also characteristic of fibromyalgia. Indeed, studies suggest that sleep disturbances are related to a phenomenon called alpha-delta sleep, a condition in which deep sleep (associated with delta EEG waves) is frequently interrupted by bursts of brain activity similar to wakefulness (i.e. alpha waves). Deeper stages of sleep (stages 3 & 4) are often dramatically reduced.

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Eighteen sites (nine pairs) or tender points seen in patients with fybromyalgia

.Signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia can vary, depending on the weather, stress, physical activity or even the time of day. Common signs and symptoms include:

* Widespread pain. Fibromyalgia is characterized by pain in specific areas of your body when pressure is applied, including the back of your head, upper back and neck, upper chest, elbows, hips and knees. The pain generally persists for months at a time and is often accompanied by stiffness.
* Fatigue and sleep disturbances. People with fibromyalgia often wake up tired and unrefreshed even though they seem to get plenty of sleep. Some studies suggest that this sleep problem is the result of a sleep disorder called alpha wave interrupted sleep pattern, a condition in which deep sleep is frequently interrupted by bursts of brain activity similar to wakefulness. So people with fibromyalgia miss the deep restorative stage of sleep. Nighttime muscle spasms in your legs and restless legs syndrome also may be associated with fibromyalgia.
* Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating associated with IBS are common in people with fibromyalgia.
* Headaches and facial pain. Many people who have fibromyalgia also have headaches and facial pain that may be related to tenderness or stiffness in their neck and shoulders. Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, which affects the jaw joints and surrounding muscles, also is common in people with fibromyalgia.
* Heightened sensitivity. It’s common for people with fibromyalgia to report being sensitive to odors, noises, bright lights and touch.

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Other common signs and symptoms include:

* Depression
* Numbness or tingling sensations in the hands and feet (paresthesia)
* Difficulty concentrating
* Mood changes
* Chest pain
* Dry eyes, skin and mouth
* Painful menstrual periods
* Dizziness
* Anxiety

Causes:

The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. Fibromyalgia can, but does not always, start as a result of some trauma such as a traffic accident, major surgery, or disease. Some evidence shows that Lyme Disease may be a trigger of fibromyalgia symptoms.[21] Another study suggests that more than one clinical entity may be involved, ranging from a mild, idiopathic inflammatory process to clinical depression[22]

Genetics

By using self-reported “Chronic Widespread Pain” (CWP) as a surrogate marker for fibromyalgia, the Swedish Twin Registry found that a modest genetic contribution may exist:

* Monozygotic twins with CWP have a 15% chance that their twin sibling has CWP
* Dizygotic twins with CWP have a 7% chance that their twin sibling has CWP

Stress

Studies have shown that stress is a significant precipitating factor in the development of fibromyalgia, and that PTSD is linked with fibromyalgia.The Amital study found that 49% of PTSD patients fulfilled the criteria for FMS, compared with none of the controls.

A non-mainstream hypothesis that fibromyalgia may be a psychosomatic illness has been described by John E. Sarno’s “tension myositis syndrome”. He believes many cases of chronic pain result from changes in the body caused by the mind’s subconscious strategy of distracting painful or dangerous emotions. Education, attitude change, and, in some cases, psychotherapy are treatments proposed to stop the brain from using that strategy.

Dopamine abnormality

Dopamine is a catecholamine neurotransmitter perhaps best known for its role in the pathology of schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease and addiction. There is also strong evidence for a role of dopamine in restless leg syndrome , which is a common co-morbid condition in patients with fibromyalgia. In addition, dopamine plays a critical role in pain perception and natural analgesia. Accordingly, musculoskeletal pain complaints are common among patients with Parkinson’s disease , which is characterized by drastic reductions in dopamine owing to neurodegeneration of dopamine-producing neurons, while patients with schizophrenia, which is thought to be due (in part) to hyperactivity of dopamine-producing neurons, have been shown to be relatively insensitive to pain. Interestingly, patients with restless legs syndrome have also been demonstrated to have hyperalgesia to static mechanical stimulation.

Fibromyalgia has been commonly referred to as a “stress-related disorder” due to its frequent onset and worsening of symptoms in the context of stressful events. It was therefore proposed that fibromyalgia may represent a condition characterized by low levels of central dopamine that likely results from a combination of genetic factors and exposure to environmental stressors, including psychosocial distress, physical trauma, systemic viral infections or inflammatory disorders (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus). This conclusion was based on three key observations: (1) fibromyalgia is associated with stress; (2) chronic exposure to stress results in a disruption of dopamine-related neurotransmission; and (3) dopamine plays a critical role in modulating pain perception and central analgesia in such areas as the basal ganglia including the nucleus accumbens, insular cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, thalamus, periaqueductal gray, and spinal cord.

In support of the ‘dopamine hypothesis of fibromyalgia’, a reduction in dopamine synthesis has been reported by a study that used positron emission tomography (PET) and demonstrated a reduction in dopamine synthesis among fibromyalgia patients in several brain regions in which dopamine plays a role in inhibiting pain perception, including the mesencephalon, thalamus, insular cortex and anterior cingulate cortex.A subsequent PET study demonstrated that, whereas healthy individuals release dopamine into the caudate nucleus and putamen during a tonic experimental pain stimulus (i.e. hypertonic saline infusion into a muscle bed), fibromyalgia patients fail to release dopamine in response to pain and, in some cases, actually have a reduction in dopamine levels during painful stimulation. Moreover, a substantial subset of fibromyalgia patients respond well in controlled trials to pramipexole, a dopamine agonist that selectively stimulates dopamine D2/D3 receptors and is used to treat both Parkinson’s disease and restless legs syndrome. Trials of other dopamine agonists are currently ongoing.

Serotonin

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is known to play a role in regulating sleep patterns, mood, feelings of well-being, concentration and descending inhibition of pain. Accordingly, it has been hypothesized that the pathophysiology underlying the symptoms of fibromyalgia may be a dysregulation of serotonin metabolism, which may explain (in part) many of the symptoms associated with the disorder. This hypothesis is derived in part by the observation of decreased serotonin metabolites in patient plasma and cerebrospinal fluid. However, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have met with limited success in alleviating the symptoms of the disorder, while drugs with activity as mixed serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) have been more successful. Accordingly, duloxetine (Cymbalta), a SNRI originally used to treat depression and painful diabetic neuropathy, has been demonstrated by controlled trials to relieve symptoms of some patients. Eli Lilly and Company, the manufacturer of duloxetine has submitted a supplementary new drug application (sNDA) to the FDA for approval of it use in the treatment of FM. The relevance of dysregulated serotonin metabolism to the pathophysiology is a matter of debate.  Ironically, one of the more effective types of medication for the treatment of the disorder (i.e. serotonin 5-HT3 antagonists) actually block some of the effects of serotonin.

Sleep disturbance
Electroencephalography studies have shown that people with fibromyalgia lack slow-wave sleep and circumstances that interfere with stage four sleep (pain, depression, serotonin deficiency, certain medications or anxiety) may cause or worsen the condition.[59] According to the sleep disturbance hypothesis, an event such as a trauma or illness causes sleep disturbance and possibly initial chronic pain that may initiate the disorder. The hypothesis supposes that stage 4 sleep is critical to the function of the nervous system, as it is during that stage that certain neurochemical processes in the body ‘reset’. In particular, pain causes the release of the neuropeptide substance P in the spinal cord which has the effect of amplifying pain and causing nerves near the initiating ones to become more sensitive to pain. Under normal circumstances, areas around a wound to become more sensitive to pain but if pain becomes chronic and body-wide this process can run out of control. The sleep disturbance hypothesis holds that deep sleep is critical to reset the substance P mechanism and prevent this out-of-control effect.

The sleep disturbance/substance P hypothesis could explain “tender points” that are characteristic of fibromyalgia but which are otherwise enigmatic, since their positions don’t correspond to any particular set of nerve junctions or other obvious body structures.  The hypothesis proposes that these locations are more sensitive because the sensory nerves that serve them are positioned in the spinal cord to be most strongly affected by substance P. This hypothesis could also explain some of more general neurological features of fibromyalgia, since substance P is active in many other areas of the nervous system. The sleep disturbance hypothesis could also provide a possible connection between fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and post-polio syndrome through damage to the ascending reticular activating system of the reticular formation. This area of the brain, in addition to apparently controlling the sensation of fatigue, is known to control sleep behaviors and is also believed to produce some neuropeptides, and thus injury or imbalance in this area could cause both CFS and sleep-related fibromyalgia.

Critics of the hypothesis argue that it does not explain slow-onset fibromyalgia, fibromyalgia present without tender points, or patients without heightened pain symptoms, and a number of the non-pain symptoms present in the disorder.

Human growth hormone
An alternate hypothesis suggests that stress-induced problems in the hypothalamus may lead to reduced sleep and reduced production of human growth hormone (HGH) during slow-wave sleep. People with fibromyalgia tend to produce inadequate levels of HGH. Most patients with FM with low IGF-I levels failed to secrete HGH after stimulation with clonidine and l-dopa.

This view is supported by the fact that those hormones under the direct or indirect control of HGH, including IGF-1, cortisol, leptin and neuropeptide Y are abnormal in people with fibromyalgia, In addition, treatment with exogenous HGH or growth hormone secretagogue reduces fibromyalgia related pain and restores slow wave sleep though there is disagreement about the proposition.

Deposition disease

The ‘deposition hypothesis of fibromyaglia’ posits fibromyalgia is due to intracellular phosphate and calcium accumulations that eventually reaches levels sufficient to impede the ATP process, possibly caused by a kidney defect or missing enzyme that prevents the removal of excess phosphates from the blood stream. Accordingly, proponents of this hypothesis suggest that fibromyalgia may be an inherited disorder, and that phosphate build-up in cells is gradual but can be accelerated by trauma or illness. Calcium is required for the excess phosphate to enter the cells.[citation needed]The additional phosphate slows down the ATP process; however the excess calcium prods the cell to continue producing ATP.

Diagnosis is made with a specialized technique called mapping, a gentle palpitation of the muscles to detect lumps and areas of spasm thought to be caused by an excess of calcium in the cytosol of the cells. The mapping technique is notably different from the manual tenderpoint examination  upon which a diagnosis of fibromyalgia depends and is purportedly different from the detection of trigger points that characterize the myofascial pain syndrome.

While this hypothesis does not identify the causative mechanism in the kidneys, it proposes a treatment known as guaifenesin therapy. This treatment involves administering the drug guaifenesin to a patient’s individual dosage, avoiding salicylic acid in medications or on the skin. Often products for salicylate sensitivity are very helpful. If the patient is also hypoglycemic, a diet is designed to keep insulin levels low.

The phosphate build-up hypothesis explains many of the symptoms present in fibromyalgia  and proposes an underlying cause. The guaifenesin treatment, based on this hypothesis, has received mixed reviews, with some practitioners claiming many near-universal successes  and others reporting no success. Of note, guaifenesin is also a central acting muscle relaxant used in veterinary anaesthesia that is structurally related to methocarbamol, a property that might explain its utility in some fibromyalgia patients. A controlled trial of guaifenesin for the treatment of fibromyalgia demonstrated no evidence for efficacy of this medication.   However, this study has been criticized by the chief proponent of the deposition hypothesis for not limiting salicylic acid exposure in patients, and for studying the effectiveness of only guaifenesin, not the entire treatment method.As of 2005, further studies to test the protocol’s effectiveness are in the planning stages, with funding for independent studies largely collected from groups which advocate the hypothesis. It should be noted that nothing in the scientific literature supports the proposition that fibromyalgia patients have excessive levels of phosphate in their tissues.

Other hypotheses

Other hypotheses have been proposed related to various toxins from the patient’s environment, viral causes such as the Epstein-Barr Virus, growth hormone deficiencies possibly related to an underlying (maybe autoimmune) disease affecting the hypothalamus gland, an aberrant immune response to intestinal bacteria, neurotransmitter disruptions in the central nervous system, and erosion of the protective chemical coating around sensory nerves. A 2001 study suggested an increase in fibromyalgia among women with extracapsular silicone gel leakage, compared to women whose implants were not broken or leaking outside the capsule. This association has not repeated in a number of related studies, and the US-FDA concluded “the weight of the epidemiological evidence published in the literature does not support an association between fibromyalgia and breast implants.” Due to the multi-systemic nature of illnesses such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME), an emerging branch of medical science called psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is looking into how the various hypotheses fit together.

Another hypothesis on the cause of symptoms in fibromyalgia states that patients suffer from vasomotor dysregulation causing improper vascularflow and hypoperfusion (decreased blood flow to a given tissue or organ).

Always a comorbid disease?

Cutting across several of the above hypotheses is the proposition that fibromyalgia is almost always a comorbid disorder, occurring in combination with some other disorder that likely served to “trigger” the fibromyalgia in the first place. Two possible triggers are gluten sensitivity and/or irritable bowel. Irritable bowel is found at high frequency in fibromyalgia, and a large coeliac support group survey of adult celiacs revealed that 7% had fibromyalgia and also has a co-occurrence with chronic fatique.

According to this hypothesis, some other disorder (or trauma) occurs first, and fibromyalgia follows as a result. In some cases, the original disorder abates on its own or is separately treated and cured, but the fibromyalgia remains. This is especially apparent when fibromyalgia seems triggered by major surgery. In other cases the two disorders coexist.

Risk factors:-

Risk factors for fibromyalgia include:

* Your sex. Fibromyalgia occurs more often in women than in men.
* Age. Fibromyalgia tends to develop during early and middle adulthood. But it can also occur in children and older adults.
* Disturbed sleep patterns. It’s unclear whether sleeping difficulties are a cause or a result of fibromyalgia — but people with sleep disorders, such as nighttime muscle spasms in the legs, restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea, can also develop fibromyalgia.
* Family history. You may be more likely to develop fibromyalgia if a relative also has the condition.
* Rheumatic disease. If you have a rheumatic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or ankylosing spondylitis, you may be more likely to have fibromyalgia.

Treatment:-

As with many other syndromes, there is no universally accepted cure for fibromyalgia, though some physicians claim to have found cures.However, a steady interest in the disorder on the part of academic researchers as well as pharmaceutical interests has led to improvements in its treatment, which ranges from symptomatic prescription medication to alternative and complementary medicine.

The European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) issued the first guidelines[82] for the treatment of fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) and published them in the September 17th On-line First issue of the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Medications

Many medications are used to treat specific symptoms of fibromyalgia, such as muscle pain and insomnia.

Pain relief

A number of pain relievers have been prescribed for fibromyalgia. This includes NSAID medications over the counter, COX-2 inhibitors, and tramadol in prescription form for more advanced cases. Recently, pregabalin (marketed as Lyrica) has been given FDA approval for the treatment of diagnosed Fibromyalgia.

Muscle relaxants

Muscle relaxants, such as cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) or tizanidine (Zanaflex), may be used to treat the muscle pain associated with the disorder.

Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)

Traditionally, low doses of sedating antidepressants (e.g. amitriptyline and trazodone) have been used to reduce the sleep disturbances that are associated with fibromyalgia and are believed by some practitioners to alleviate the symptoms of the disorder. Because depression often accompanies chronic illness, these antidepressants may provide additional benefits to patients suffering from depression. Amitriptyline is often favoured as it can also have the effect of providing relief from neuralgenic or neuropathic pain.[citation needed] It is to be noted that Fibromyalgia is not considered a depressive disorder; antidepressants are used for their sedating effect to aid in sleep.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

Research data consistently contradict the utility of agents with specificity as serotonin reuptake inhibitors for the treatment of core symptoms of fibromyalgia.  Moreover, SSRIs are known to aggravate many of the comorbidities that commonly affect patients with fibromyalgia including restless legs syndrome and sleep bruxism.

Anti-seizure drugs

Anti-seizure drugs are also sometimes used, such as gabapentin[93] and pregabalin (Lyrica). Pregabalin, originally used for the nerve pain suffered by diabetics, has been approved by the American Food and Drug Administration for treatment of fibromyalgia. A randomized controlled trial of pregabalin 450 mg/day found that a number needed to treat of 6 patients for one patient to have 50% reduction in pain.

Dopamine agonists

Dopamine agonists (e.g. pramipexole (Mirapex) and ropinirole(ReQuip)) have been studied for use in the treatment of fibromyalgia with good results. A trial of transdermal rotigotine is currently on going .

Combination therapy

A controlled clinical trial of amitriptyline and fluoxetine demonstrated utility when used in combination.

Central Nervous System (CNS) Stimulants

Cognitive dysfunction in fibromyalgia, often referred to as “brain fog,” may be treated with low doses of central nervous system (CNS) stimulants such as Modafinil, Adderall, Provigil, Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Ritalin SR, Methylin, Methylin ER.) These non-amphetamine stimulants are also used to treat the chronic fatigue that is characteristic of fibromyalgia.

Stimulants may be habit forming and can have other serious side effects, so it is important to note that other treatments may be effective. Care should be taken with any prescription, as people with fibromyalgia are known to be sensitive to medications.

Cannabis and cannabinoids

Fibromyalgia patients frequently self-report using cannabis therapeutically to treat symptoms of the disorder. Writing in the July 2006 issue of the journal Current Medical Research and Opinion, investigators at Germany’s University of Heidelberg evaluated the analgesic effects of oral THC (?9-tetrahydrocannabinol) in nine patients with fibromyalgia over a 3-month period. Subjects in the trial were administered daily doses of 2.5 to 15 mg of THC, but received no other pain medication during the trial. Among those participants who completed the trial, all reported a significant reduction in daily recorded pain and electronically induced pain.Previous clinical and preclinical trials have shown that both naturally occurring and endogenous cannabinoids hold analgesic qualities,particularly in the treatment of cancer pain and neuropathic pain, both of which are poorly treated by conventional opioids. As a result, some experts have suggested that cannabinoid agonists would be applicable for the treatment of chronic pain conditions unresponsive to opioid analgesics such as fibromyalgia, and they propose that the disorder may be associated with an underlying clinical deficiency of the endocannabinoid system.

Topical remedies

Users of Epsom Salts in the gel form (Magnesium Sulfate), have reported significant and lasting relief from pain associated with fibromyalgia. Epsom Salts have long been touted for their ability to reduce pain and swelling.

Non-drug treatment

Physical treatments

Studies have found exercise improves fitness and sleep and may reduce pain and fatigue in some people with fibromyalgia. Many patients find temporary relief by applying heat to painful areas. Those with access to physical therapy, massage, or acupuncture may find them beneficial. Most patients find exercise, even low intensity exercise to be extremely helpful. Osteopathic manipulative therapy can also temporarily relieve pain due to fibromyalgia.

A holistic approach—including managing diet, sleep, stress, activity, and pain—is used by many patients. Dietary supplements, massage, chiropractic care, managing blood sugar levels, and avoiding known triggers when possible means living as well as it is in the patient’s power to do.[citation needed]

Psychological/behavioral therapies

As the nature of fibromyalgia is not well understood, some physicians believe that it may be psychosomatic or psychogenic.Although there is no universally accepted cure, some doctors have claimed to have successfully treated fibromyalgia when a psychological cause is accepted.

Cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to improve quality of life and coping in fibromyalgia patients and other sufferers of chronic pain. Neurofeedback has also shown to provide temporary and long-term relief.

Biofeedback and self-management techniques such as pacing and stress management may be helpful for some patients. The use of medication to improve sleep helps some patients, as does supplementation with folic acid and ginkgo biloba.

Dietary treatment

In a 2001 review of four case studies, symptom alleviation was found by minimizing consumption of monosodium glutamate.

Investigational treatments

Milnacipran, a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), is available in parts of Europe where it has been safely prescribed for other disorders. On May 22nd, 2007, a Phase III study demonstrated statistically significant therapeutic effects of Milnacipran as a treatment of fibromyalgia syndrome. At this time, only initial top-line results are available and further analyses will be completed in the coming weeks. If ultimately approved by the FDA, Milnacipran could be distributed in the United States as early as summer, 2008.

Among the more controversial therapies involves the use of guaifenesin; called St. Amand’s protocol or the guaifenesin protocol the efficacy of guaifenesin in treating fibromyalgia has not been proven in properly designed research studies. Indeed, a controlled study conducted by researchers at Oregon Health Science University in Portland failed to demonstrate any benefits from this treatment, and the lead researcher has suggested that the annecdotaly reported benefits where due to placebo suggestion. The results of the study have since been contested by Dr St. Amand, who was a co-author or the original research report.

Dextromethorphan is an over-the-counter cough medicine
with activity as an NMDA receptor antagonist. It has been used in the research setting to investigate the nature of fibromyalgia pain; however, there are no controlled trials of safety or efficacy in clinical use.

Living with fibromyalgia:-

Fibromyalgia can affect every aspect of a person’s life. While neither degenerative nor fatal, the chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia is pervasive and persistent. FMS can severely curtail social activity and recreation, and as many as 30% of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia are unable to maintain full-time employment.[citation needed] Like others with disabilities, individuals with FMS often need accommodations to fully participate in their education or remain active in their careers.

In the United States, those who are unable to maintain a full-time job due to the condition may apply for Social Security Disability benefits. Although fibromyalgia has been recognized as a genuine, severe medical condition by the government, applicants are often denied benefits, since there are no formal diagnostic criteria or medically provable symptoms. Because of this, if an applicant does have a medically verifiable condition that would justify disability benefits in addition to fibromyalgia, it is recommended that they not list fibromyalgia in their claim. However, most are awarded benefits at the judicial level; the entire process often takes two to four years.

In the United Kingdom, the Department for Work and Pensions recognizes fibromyalgia as a condition for the purpose of claiming benefits and assistanc.

Fibromyalgia is often referred to as an “invisible” illness or disability due to the fact that generally there are no outward indications of the illness or its resulting disabilities. The invisible nature of the illness, as well as its relative rarity and the lack of understanding about its pathology, often has psychosocial complications for those that have the disorder. Individuals suffering from invisible illnesses in general often face disbelief or accusations of malingering or laziness from others that are unfamiliar with the disorder.

There are a variety of support groups on the Web that cater to fibromyalgia sufferers.

Controversies:-
The validity of fibromyalgia as a unique clinical entity is a matter of some contention among researchers in the field. For example, it has been proposed that the pathophysiology responsible for the symptoms that are collectively classified as representing “fibromyalgia” is poorly understood, thereby suggesting that the fibromyalgia phenotype which is the difference between an individual’s heredity and what that heredity produces, may result from several different disease processes that have global hyperalgesia – an increased sensitivity to pain – and allodynia in common, an observation that has led to the proposition that current diagnostic criteria are insufficient to differentiate patient groups from each other. Alternatively, there is evidence for the existence of differing pathophysiological – which is the study of the disturbance of normal mechanical, physical, and biochemical functions of the body – within the greater fibromyalgia construct[, which may be interpreted to represent evidence for the existence of biologically distinct “sub-types” of the disorder akin to conditions such as epilepsy, schizophrenia and major depressive disorder. In a January 14, 2008 article in the New York Times, the controversy of the reality of the disease and its proposed cures are discussed, while citing that the American College of Rheumatology, the Food and Drug Administration and insurers recognize fibromyalgia as a diagnosable disease. Drug companies are aggressively pursuing fibromyalgia treatments, seeing the potential for a major new market.

You may click to learn more about Fibromyalgia

Yoga & meditation may be very helpful for all kind of  Fibromyalgia

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fibromyalgia
MayoClinic.com

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