Rheumatologists and Fibromyalgia

How Rheumatologists Can Help With Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is such a slippery disease to diagnose and treat that it's not unusual for both patients and doctors to despair over just what can ease its symptoms. A rheumatologist, a doctor who deals with disease of the joints, might be the best type of doctor to treat the condition. However, even a rheumatologist might need to recommend his or her patient to other specialists from time to time. One of those specialists might be a dietitian.

Though doctors and researchers haven't found a specific type of food that affects every fibromyalgia patient the same way, some foods seem to cause flare-ups of pain in certain fibromyalgia patients. Other foods seem to relieve the discomfort of fibromyalgia.

Foods to Avoid

A dietitian who works with a rheumatologist and a fibromyalgia patient might suggest that the patient give up caffeine. Insomnia is a terrible problem for many people with fibromyalgia and caffeine taken to keep a patient awake during the day will simply disrupt whatever sleep she manages to get at night. If the patient needs a hot beverage during the day, dietitians recommend decaffeinated tea. Green tea is an especially good choice because it has antioxidants.

The patient might also avoid food additives. Though research is ongoing, there seems to be something in some food additives like MSG that make a fibromyalgia patient more sensitive to pain. This might be because the additive stimulates the nerves in a way that lowers the patient's pain tolerance.

Foods to Eat

Dietitians recommend that fibromyalgia sufferers increase the amount of fish in their diet especially cold water, fatty fish like salmon, herring and tuna. These types of fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to ease inflammation and might help with the soreness and stiffness that accompany the disease.

Fibromyalgia patients also seem to benefit by increasing the amount of vegetables in their diet. Vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables and orange and yellow vegetables, are full of antioxidants. Some studies seem to show that fibromyalgia patients don't have enough antioxidants in their systems to ward off the cell damage and stress caused by free radical molecules. These are oxygen molecules that have an unpaired electron. The free radical reacts by robbing electrons from other molecules. Antioxidants, which include vitamins like A, C and E, lessen the damage this causes by giving up one of their electrons.

A dietitian might also recommend that a fibromyalgia patient get at least a recommended daily allowance of Vitamin D. This is one of the few vitamins that the human body can make. Vitamin D can be created by only a few minutes out in the sun and deficiencies of the vitamin can cause pain in the muscles and the bones. Indeed, Vitamin D deficiency was a cause of rickets. If the patient can't get out into the sun, she can take Vitamin D supplements. Foods that are rich in Vitamin D include fatty fish and dairy products, egg yolks and liver.