BACKGROUND: Up to 6 million Americans are living with fibromyalgia. The cause is unknown, but it is seen most commonly in middle-aged women. The condition is associated with severe and debilitating muscle pain throughout much of the body. Fatigue, brain fog and concentration difficulties are all associated with fibromyalgia. Dr. David Katz, a preventive medicine specialist at Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Derby, Conn., said, “The biggest problem with fibromyalgia is that the cause is not known. There is no definitive test for it, and so it lacks the credibility and the respect that diseases that are better understood typically do get in the medical system.”
DIAGNOSIS: There are two key elements in diagnosing fibroymalgia. One is meeting the criteria for the condition, in which patients describe its characteristics, such as tender points in the muscles — especially of the shoulders, back and upper arms. The other key element in diagnosing this poorly understood condition is ruling out everything else.
TREATMENT: Because fibromyalgia is associated with pain, most treatment focuses on pain relief. Anti-inflammatories are commonly used as well as narcotics in severe cases. Also, an older class of antidepressants called tricyclic antidepressants can be effective. Increasing physical activity can help, but fibromyalgia tends to exhaust patients to the point that this becomes very difficult. Katz said, “In many instances, all of these together — antidepressants, pain medication, some kind of exercise program — fail to be enough and symptoms persist and sometimes worsen.”
IVMT: In the past few decades, intravenous micronutrient therapy has been popping up in more and more alternative clinics across the country. In the past few years, Katz has treated about 60 patients with it, and he said about 80 percent of them have had good results. He says about one in five feels better after the first treatment and others improve more gradually, reporting changes after four or five treatments.
WHAT IS IT? The therapy is a high-dose combination of B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, and calcium. The nutrients are delivered through a slow intravenous drip, allowing patients to absorb higher concentrations than oral dosages. It is safe and effective for most patients. It is painless, with only a slight pinch from the injection and warmness experienced. Patients typically receive eight weekly treatments and then are assessed.
WHY DOES IT WORK? Little research exists on IVMT. Many physicians have never heard of it. Those who do use it in their practice are unsure of why it works but say the high concentration of micronutrients helps strengthen the immune system, reduce free radical damage, improve cellular membrane quality, or boost cellular energy. Katz has a theory that fibromyalgia is a condition where blood flow to muscle is impaired in some way, which creates a feeling of muscle overuse. Katz said the common denominator between physical activity, the current drugs for treatment, and apparently IVMT, is increased muscle blood flow.
WHO IS IT FOR? Katz said IVMT is for patients who are relatively healthy other than having fibromyalgia. Those with kidney function problems are generally excluded from this therapy because the kidney has to clear the high dose of nutrients infused. Also, those with congestive heart failure or other conditions that do not respond well to an increase in blood volume may not be candidates for IVMT. For more information on the trial, log onto http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct/show/NCT00067405?order=1.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Integrative Medicine Center
252 Seymour Ave.
Derby, CT 06418
Copyright 2005 by Ivanhoe Broadcast News. All rights reserved.