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Letters From Our Readers - Diagnosis and Treatment Issues 1-10-07

  [ 226 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • January 10, 2007

Dr. Whitcomb’s Treatment Protocol

I've recently been looking into a program for curing or helping Fibromyalgia, which is done in Lake Tahoe by Dr. Paul Whitcomb. I'm sure you have heard about it because you had an article in 2005 talking about it. There seems to be a lot of people who are getting better. Have you heard something negative about this program/procedure that you do not mention it as a possible solution to Fibromyalgia? - Judy

Note: First, it is always wise to question any treatment that claims to ‘cure’ Fibromyalgia. While some treatments may help a number of people, no treatment has yet been proven beneficial for all FM patients. Dr. Whitcomb’s treatment seems to focus on treating upper cervical spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal column), which has several symptoms similar to Fibromyalgia. If an FM patient has upper cervical spinal stenosis, this treatment may very well be helpful. However, before considering this expensive and time-consuming treatment, it is important to make sure you have this particular problem. Your doctor can determine whether you have upper cervical spinal stenosis through a combination of medical history, a physical exam and one or more tests, such as: X-ray, MRI, CAT scan, myelogram, or bone scan.


Anti-depressants and Pain

Has depression medication shown to reduce the pain in FM patients? - Patricia

Note: This is a timely question (see "First FDA Approval for FM Treatment Drug Expected by 2008" under Pharmaceutical Drug News in this issue) - and a good question for a knowledgeable pharmacist. But you can do your own detective work too. A search of using search words such as “depression” and “pain” should turn up some info for you. For example, the abstract of an article titled, “Efficacy of duloxetine in painful symptoms: An analgesic or antidepressant effect?” seems to indicate this drug may help with FM pain. You might also want to go to our message boards and ask other patients for their experiences with antidepressants and pain.


Lyme Disease Was the Culprit

I want to thank you for your informative newsletters. Information I gained from reading them enabled me to seek out treatment for 17 years of Fibro that had been, in fact, caused by Lyme disease…Eleven doctors repeatedly told me that I had been adequately treated and was no longer actively infected…It has been a long and nasty battle, but after a little over two years of antibiotics, I have had an 80 percent improvement in my symptoms. Most of my cognitive problems disappeared within the first three months and slowly the fatigue and pain have subsided and my energy is increasing daily. - Sheryl

Note: For those looking for more information about Lyme disease, a search of on the words “Lyme disease” will yield multiple articles, such as,“Differentiating Lyme disease from FM and CFS” []


Is There a Fibromyalgia-Celiac Link?

I've been recently diagnosed with Celiac disease after being diagnosed with Fibro about 12 years ago. I was amazed to read the symptoms of Celiac-Sprue and to find them to be the same symptoms of Fibro, including joint and muscle pain. As I'm sure you know, Celiac is an auto-immune response to eating wheat, rye or barley. I'm doing a pretty good job of getting those out of my diet, which is not easy as they hide behind words like thickener, malt or seasonings. What I am most amazed at is the lack of fibro symptoms I'm having as I get these allergens out of my system…I'm now wondering if I ever actually had Fibro but really had Celiac, untreated… Is there data out there comparing Fibro and Celiac? I'd love to see you do an article on it since relieving myself of the allergens causing Celiac has done away with my Fibro symptoms. - Gayla

Note: A search on for the word “celiac” brings up several good articles like “Mystery Illnesses Linked to Gluten Intolerance.” []


Exercise Really Works!

I have found a great relief in gentle whole body vibration…When I use it I don't wake up walking like a 90-year-old woman. I also go to "Curves" five days a week. Darn if they aren't right! Exercise does help! I still deal with being tired but am more tired when I do not exercise. – Christine


FM or CFS?

I am a 67-year-old female and was diagnosed with fibro about 10 years ago…I saw a new commercial this week about getting up tired, muscle aches and pains and sore legs. They are saying you might have CFS. Are they the same, as I have all of the above?

Note: Not all doctors agree. Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are probably two different illnesses that share many similar symptoms, including those you mentioned. A large percentage of people who have been diagnosed with one are also diagnosed with the other. See Dr. Alison Bested’s summary “Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities – What do they have in common?” in this issue [ ]

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