Well over three hundred members of the Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) community attended The International Fibromyalgia Symposium on August 20-22, at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, hosted by Brenda Frandsen’s Fibromyalgia Recovery Group. A nearly recovered fibromyalgic herself, Ms. Frandsen put together a stunning array of speakers, vendors, presentations and chats.
Unlike other conferences this one was designed for those determined to live better, fuller lives despite what for many was a devastating diagnosis. The upbeat mood of the symposium was infectious, and while tears and laughter appeared on faces in equal measure, determination and dedication were the predominant emotions. “What other Fibromyalgia conference would begin with an exercise session at 7:30 a.m. that was actually crowded?” one physical therapist remarked.
In addition to a keynote speech and four separate sessions by R. Paul St. Amand M.D., internationally known for developing the guaifenesin protocol, there were sessions by Rheumatologist Joel Depper, a noted expert in the treatment of FMS; John Willems, M.D., Clinical Associate Professor at University of California, San Diego, and Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Scripps Clinic; Marian Wymore, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor of Family Medicine at University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine and Founder and Medical Director of The Center for Health and Well-Being, Manhattan Beach, California; and Flora Parsa Stay, D.D.S., who hosts the radio program “Dental Care and You” in Ventura County and is a regular columnist for the Ventura Star and HealthWorld Online.
Dr. Depper shared his personal experiences in treating more than 150 patients suffering from fibromyalgia over a 3 year period, including response rates, side effects, impact of age, prior duration of symptoms, ancillary medications and diet. He reviewed factors that predispose people to development of FMS, including hypermobility, trauma, and possible relation to diet, and he discussed common therapeutic approaches to FMS treatment. Dr. Willems, who established the Scripps Clinic as a nationally recognized center of excellence in management of vulvar disease, spoke with humor and compassion about effective nonsurgical treatments for vulvar pain. Dr. Willems was one of the first physicians worldwide to recognize a connection between resistant vulvar symptoms and Fibromyalgia. His presentation also included some information about interstitial cystitis and pelvic pain.
Dr. Wymore, who believes strongly in an integrative approach to chronic illness discussed the use of a wide range of treatments for fibromyalgia including acupuncture; chiropractic care; heat, cold, and ultrasound; massage (including myofascial release); energy medicine; diet and exercise (including yoga, dance, walking, and stretching); mind/body medicine (including guided imagery); meditation; and mental health considerations. She said much of the responsibility for getting the right diagnosis and treatment for FMS resides with the patient, and along with Claudia Marek, author of “Fibromyalgia: The First Year,” lead a lively workshop focused on establishing and maintaining a relationship with your doctor.
Dr. Flora Stay, D.D.S., a noted specialist in oral health care and author of “The Complete Book of Dental Remedies” provided a session on FMS Mouth Problems and Solutions. Over the past several years Dr. Stay has been a welcome addition to our community in this much neglected area. Dry mouth, canker sores, gum disease and its connection with Fibromyalgia were among the many topics about which she spoke.
Audio cassette tapes and an MP3 CD-ROM of all presentations are available from www.fibromyalgiarecovery.com.