Can Fibromyalgia Cure Itself?   10 comments

Can fibromyalgia cure itself? Before you read on, I should stress – I don’t know the answer to this question – it’s rhetorical only. Sorry. But if you have any info on this, I’d be glad to hear about it.

I wondered about this after an email from Leti (Twitter: Dreaminloudly) Thanks for bringing up an interesting point Leti.

Leti sent me this article from CNN about the actor David Seidler, who says he cured his own bladder cancer with the power of his mind.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a strong believer in the power of the mind. That’s why I write about psychology on my blog sometimes.  But I think you can take this idea too far – if you’re falling off a cliff, you’re going to hit the bottom no matter what you think.

Some cancers do go into spontaneous remission. It’s not known why or how (if it was known, we’d probably be well on our way to a cure), and we can’t even predict which ones will do this. It is very rare unfortunately.

If you’re one of the lucky ones, whose cancer cures itself, you will naturally assume that whatever you’ve been doing differently is the reason. If this thing was thinking positively, then that’s what you’ll give the credit to.

There are similar examples of people in spontaneous cancer remission feeling sure it was the power of prayer, or some change in diet, homeopathy, slaughtering a donkey at full moon, etc, that cured them, when in fact it was probably none of these things.

Science is pretty boring like that sometimes.

So what about fibromyalgia?

There are reports of fibromyalgia going into remission. Again, if this does happen (and I’m not convinced) then it is rare. Perhaps, a more likely explanation is that these people were misdiagnosed, and never had fibromyalgia in the first place. I’m not sure about this – I’d be happy to be proved wrong - I’ve certainly heard it said that fibromyalgia can resolve, (another thing for me to look into – the list grows ever longer)

It’s possible that people claiming to have “cures” for fibromyalgia are those that had spontaneous remission. They are assuming that whatever they did, before they got better, was the reason they got better. (The post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy). Therefore these people feel they have found the cure to fibromyalgia.

Of course, some are just con artists, who know full well they’re full of crap.

10 responses to “Can Fibromyalgia Cure Itself?

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  1. I fully believe in the curative power of faith, but that must not be turned to naïveté. I was once told authoritatively that my faith could heal me, at which I thought “Oh shoot, I’m stuck with this for life!” because faith includes first and foremost trust in the purposes of Divinity. Some people learn valuable lessons through miracles (can you really be sure spontaneous remissions are always mis-diagnoses?) whereas for others, a different learning process is required.

    Dr. Moore, when you say “con artist [...] full of crap”, I completely agree with you and go so far as to say that they are spiritually poisonous people. This does not mean that authentic cases do not exist, merely that it is the task of each individual to learn:
    1. to distinguish between authenticity (very rare in our age) and falsehood
    2. to never give up the fight in regaining strength and dexterity.
    “God helps those who help themselves.” There are actually 3 statments in there, and all are true.

    • Hi Robin, you’re quite right – there are certainly cases of spontaneous remission in cancers, so why not fibromyalgia? If not spontaneous remission, then yes, a misdiagnosis possible (this happens in cancer too). Another explanation could be that, occassionally, a fibromyalgia sufferer really does stumble on a cure. One of the reasons I get so upset with pseudoscience is that I’m reminded of the Boy who Cried Wolf. What if a non-pharmacological cure for fibromyalgia was (or has been) discovered? It would only reach a relatively small number of people, because most would dismiss it as nonsense. By insisting that all treatments undergo rigorous testing – and nothing less – we ensure that (a) no one is given false hope, or ripped off, and (b) good treatments become known to everyone. Despite most people with fibromyalgia having tried complementary/alternative medicines at some time, most still place a lot of trust in the medical profession. Most of the medical profession will refuse to accept unproven treatments. This refusal is meant to protect patients, and on the whole it does, but it could also inadvertently block access to effective remedies. There is no way round this; we can’t just open the floodgates. Rightly or wrongly, clinical trials are the only accessible path to good therapies.

  2. Having, only this morning, read a FB post from a lady who has had fibro for more than 30 yrs and tried every known medicine to help herself, I find it highly doubtful that it can cure itself or be cured. However, for those people lucky enough to have ‘found a cure’ I congratulate them (and at the same time envy them) as I would give anything not to have this illness. My symptoms have increased and my overall health has deteriorated in the last 10 yrs, so I suppose I cant help but be sceptical of any suggestions of cure – miracle or otherwise.

    • Thanks Leigh. Strange how fibromyalgia is described by health experts as “non-progressive” when it seems that everyone who suffers from it experiences a gradual worsening.

  3. I have been suffering fibromyalgia for 10 years (since the onset as I see it, not the tardy diagnosis). In my perspective the worse were definitely the first 2, in terms of severity of pain and debilitation. The “progress” can be described for me as an increase in the “small annoying” condition that does not make me want to jump off a bridge, but rather affects my concentration and mood. I have to work harder to be cheerful and I get exhausted with noise or poor social manners much more quickly.

    HOWEVER: I find that my condition is DIRECTLY related to diligence. When I am lazy with stretching, the annoyance and onset of actual pain increases; when I am diligent, it wanes visibly. Also, Intra-Muscular Stimulation (the Canadian patented version, no electrodes) has reduced my need for NSAIDs by about 75%.

    Next month, my wife and I are supposed to take a membership in an aqua-spa…. I HATE swimming and I LOATHE heat, but in the past I have found the pool and sauna to be almost miraculous…. so long as I was diligent about it!

    • I share your love of swimming, Robin! But like you, I know it helps. A lot of people with fibro say some sort of hydrotherapy works for them. I don’t know of any studies into this (another thing to look up). Certainly staying well with fibro is hard work. Can you let me have a link to the IMS product you use? I’ve not heard of it before and would be interested to take a look.

  4. I have recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and have just been left with a bunch of tablets, which I am not keen on taking, I work full time because I have too and don’t wish to give up, but my pain and problems are getting worse and mentally driving me crazy, why do doctors just give you tablets and that’s that, is there nothing anyone can do to help with this….Help

    • Hi Sinead. Doctors do tend to think of pills first. Unfortunately FM is fairly resistent to medicines and you’re lucky if you find something straight away that suits you. The fact that you’re determined to work will help you, as positive mental attitude is by far the best tool against FM. Exercises and stretching can reduce pain and fatigue. Hydrotherapy is very useful for some FM sufferers – anything to do with warm/hot water, eg hot bath, shower, spa, steam room, sauna, wheat bag, swimming. Certain alternative therapies can help, eg massage, acupuncture, TENS.

  5. Hello Dr. Moore,
    I felt compelled to share my story after reading this article.
    I was diagnosed with fibro after years of tests and misdiagnosis. I was also in a very unhealthy relationship which made my stress level very high. My partner seemed to enjoy the fact that I was sick. He would insist I was too sick to do much of anything; work, play with my kids or anything that didn’t involve laying on the couch like a vegetable. One day I had had enough of this and his abuse of my children. We left with nothing. It was ha rd, but I had to get a job to support us and actually get out of bed. Eventually I started to feel normal again. I have completely stopped all my fibro medication except for the vitamins. Today, i have a fairly succesful cleaning business. Yes, its rough and physically demanding. Days that are particularly stressful, i will fall into a relapse, so I know I am not completely cured. I just try to rest the next day and destress.
    I feel my fibro was caused mostly by stress. When that stress was eliminated, I was able to heal. Hopefully, someone reads this and can help themselves like I did.

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