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Unraveling The Mystery of Fibromyalgia

This interview is from the Like Mind, Like Body podcast. You can listen to the full interview below, on iTunes or Google Play.



Dr. Howard Schubiner has appeared on the list of Best Doctors In America three times - and there’s a good reason why. Patients flock to him from around the country to get simple, straightforward answers to chronic aches and pains that baffle most physicians. Fibromyalgia, chronic widespread pain with no evidence of structural tissue damage, ranks near the top of that list. Dr. Schubiner joins us to explain his understanding of fibromyalgia, and why he thinks his methods have produced results where even the most cutting-edge drugs have failed.



Here’s an excerpt from our interview with Dr. Schubiner:

From a doctor's perspective, what is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is chronic widespread pain. The pain lasts at least 6 months, but for most people, we're talking about years and years. It's pain that occurs in the back, in the shoulders, in the arms, in the head. It's associated with with other conditions such as anxiety, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine headaches. The cure rate for it is really, really low. The long-term studies that have been done typically do not have pain relief over months and years.

It's fascinating, because frequently, the pain will shift from place to place in the body. Obviously, a structural problem doesn't shift from place to place in the body... if your arm's broken, it doesn't shift to your other arm. Fibromyalgia pain does, which of course, bespeaks a neural pathway disorder, where the brain is pulling the strings and controlling this pain - turning it on and off, on and off in different places.

Often, people with fibromyalgia have adverse events... parental divorce, abuse, neglect, abandonment, sexual assault. It fits so well into the paradigm that I've been working with.

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What would you say is the success rate of fibromyalgia patients you've seen with the type of approach that you use... how many experience pain relief?

We have some data. I published some data a few years ago on that. I think there were about 75 people in the study - about half had fibromyalgia, and half had fairly bad back pain. After a very brief one-month classroom-style intervention, at a six month follow-up, about 2/3 had at least 30% pain reduction that was sustained. Over half had more than 50% pain reduction. And more than 50% pain reduction for these kinds of disorders is very unusual for any kind of pain management program. The average duration of pain in our sample was 9 years. So when people have that kind of longstanding pain, the chance that they are going to have 30 or even 50% improvement is extremely low based on data from other pain management centers. So it was impressive.

It's fascinating, because frequently, the pain will shift from place to place in the body. Obviously, a structural problem doesn't shift from place to place in the body... if your arm's broken, it doesn't shift to your other arm. Fibromyalgia pain does, which of course, bespeaks a neural pathway disorder, where the brain is pulling the strings and controlling this pain - turning it on and off, on and off in different places.

Often, people with fibromyalgia have adverse events... parental divorce, abuse, neglect, abandonment, sexual assault. It fits so well into the paradigm that I've been working with.

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