Specialist chronic pain and fibromyalgia compensation solicitor Bruce Dyer examines the common problem of fibromyalgia weight gain.
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Fibromyalgia weight gain
Fibromyalgia is often debilitating, and the pain and fatigue associated with the condition mean even routine personal care can prove exhausting. So, it’s unsurprising that sufferers commonly report lengthy periods of enforced inactivity throughout the day. In turn, that swiftly results in loss of muscle strength and reduced stamina. And ultimately, it means fighting an often-losing battle against the increasing pounds. However, inactivity is not the only factor at play in fibromyalgia weight gain.
Hypothyroidism and fibromyalgia
In an earlier article, Libby Parfitt explored the link between CRPS and thyroid problems. But hypothyroidism – where the thyroid gland produces insufficient hormones – is also frequently present in people with fibromyalgia. Indeed, one study suggests that while the prevalence of fibromyalgia among the general population is around 2% to 7%, it’s as high as 30% to 40% among those with hypothyroidism. And newer diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia means the incidence may be even higher.
A major symptom of hypothyroidism is modest weight gain caused by a slowing of the body’s ability to burn calories.
Slow metabolism in fibromyalgia
In addition to hypothyroidism, research demonstrates that the metabolism of a person with fibromyalgia may be up to 25% lower than someone without the condition of the same age and weight. So, that potentially means burning up to 25% fewer calories each day.
Leptin and fibromyalgia
Leptin is an appetite-signalling hormone released to help the body maintain a normal level of weight long-term. The amount of leptin in the blood is directly related to the amount of body fat. Studies show that the release of leptin may be out of sync in people with fibromyalgia, causing hunger despite sufficient fat stores.
Exercising with fibromyalgia
The coalescence of these factors creates a perfect storm for people living with fibromyalgia. And yet it’s been demonstrated that just twenty to thirty minutes of aerobic exercise a few days each week can help reduce their symptoms.
But, of course, exercising with fibromyalgia can be very far from easy and professional support and guidance are invaluable. Physiotherapists and occupational therapists suggest starting with low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, tai chi and simple yoga exercises. As tolerance improves, the moderate use of equipment such as exercise bikes and elliptical machines can lead to further benefit. To that end, a personalised and supervised programme at a gym can prove helpful.
Diet and fibromyalgia
The internet is brimming with dietary suggestions for people with fibromyalgia, ranging from the sensible and proven to the weird and whacky. In terms of weight loss, through experience, you will know what works for you. However, referral to a dietician is an invaluable starting point in ensuring controlled weight loss while maintaining a well-balanced diet.