This is a summary of the talk by Linda Horncastle on updates to her ‘Diamond Approach’ presented to the Chiltern Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Group on March 19th 2018.
I am an HCPC registered Occupational Therapist and a member of the Medical Advisory Board for FMA UK. I have had Fibromyalgia for 29 years, helped run this support group for 16 years and set up a private clinic 9 years ago after my amazing improvement in health after fine tuning my diet, relaxation techniques and learning how to use the microcurrent device, the Alpha-Stim.
I don’t think I make a good patient! I always wanted to understand WHY I should:
- Do relaxation/meditation?
- Thinking positively?
- Look at my life style and so what if I did boom and bust?
- Why have I got amplified messages?
This talk is the result of 18 years of research in trying to find answers. This was my initial ‘Diamond Approach’ theory. The idea is to think of yourself as a Diamond with many facets that need to be polished in order for the light to shine through and symptoms reduce. Some people are lucky and only need to ‘polish’ a few facet and others like me need to ‘polish them all!
I have recently up-dated this to 4 areas: Hope, Stress, Fatigue and Pain management: I suggest you look at which area you feel ready to tackel and choose 1 or 2 of the suggestions to try.
If you'd like help in working out your next step on the road to better health please contact me. The first 15 minutes is free.
Knowledge is a very powerful tool in helping to reduce symptoms. I feel it is essential to understand how Central Sensitisation plays an important part in amplifying our symptoms. One person who I feel gives the clearest explanation is Dr Jonathan Kuttner. You can read about this in his book ‘Life After Pain’.
To explain this a little - we have our Primary symtoptoms of Pain and Fatigue and then the Secondary problem of Central sensitisation. This is a Dysfunction of the nervous system and happens Unconsciously, that is it’s not our fault the central nervous system is misbehaving. BUT there is a lot we can do to calm down these overactive nerve messages.
Dr Kuttner divides pain (and other symptomes) into 3 areas:
- Hotline pain: this is where there is a SYSTEM MALFUNCTIONING. The pain can be constantly present – aching, stabbing, prickling, shooting, tearing and it can change/ move without a reason. Sometimes these can be ‘weird’ sensations! The message can be amplified and distorted. For example warmth changed to unbearable heat or to the sensation of something crawling under the skin.
- Autonomic pain: Pain + other symptoms such as a racing heart, increase in temperature, bowel or bladder sensitivity, dizziness, skin sensations. This is from our over reactive ‘fight and flight response’ where adrenaline hypes up symptoms and this can increases pain, anxiety and fatigue.
- Reactive pain or fatigue: When symptoms become a habit. For example I always have pain first thing in the morning therefore every morning I anticipate my pain before it is triggered.
This link is to a short video from the people who ran the Explain Pain course I went to a few years ago and is explaining the same ‘Central sensitisation’: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikUzvSph7Z4
So from the above I have accepted that I have a ‘sensitised body’ but the brain is a neoplastic organ and nerve pathways can be changed. I now place more emphasis and time on how to reduce this sensitisation. It take time and persistence and will be slightly different for all of us. For me I realised that being a ‘Perfectionist’ was increasing my pain so I have relaxed a lot of my over ambitious goals and feel much happier. I also use the Alpha-Stim microcurrent device, Mind/body activities and visualisation techniques, which combined together greatly reduce my pain and fatigue.
In my clinic I’ll be happy to help you work out an individualised programme to help you reduce your symptoms, I can also teach the correct way to use the Alpha-Stim and PainMaster microcurrent devices. There is a lot of free advice on my website look at the menu above or contact me the first 15 minutes of a consultation is free.
In conclusion I will leave you with some suggestions how to gain stress reduction which work on reducing the effects of Central Sensitisation:
- Belief about self - does your inner voice constantly criticise you? If so try speaking to yourself as if you were speaking gently to your 6 year old self.
- How do you interpret what people say to you e.g. doctors/ parents/ friends… For example you might have been told your X-ray shows degenerative changes, this can cause pain but in many cases it doesn’t! Some professionals may say how terrible the X-ray looks, but are they comparing it to the X-ray of a younger person, your back might be the usual condition for someone of your age group.
- Personality type - Many of us are Perfectionist /carer types and this can increase unwanted symptoms. It’s Okay to take time out to care for yourself.
- Microcurrent therapy ear-clips. NHS England have recently approved the use of this device in IAPT services in the NHS. NICE is in the process of assessing the device for use in the NHS. In 2021 NICE accepted that the Alpha-Stim device is safe and can reduce anxiety but is waiting for one more research study. 1. I offer the chance for you to trial a device with my expert guidance to get the best from the device. If it does help you, and 70% of my clients agree with this then I can offer discounts on the cost. See pages on the Alpha-Stim M and AID
- Nutrition - certain foods can increase pain and fatigue, perhaps consider an elimination diet? Be careful not to restrict too many things from your diet for long periods of time.
- Medication - there are many medication that can help. Be aware that some even though they are prescribed for anxiety can increase anxiety. Do test out what you take and make sure it is helping you. If you want to change your medication please talk to your doctor as some medication must be reduced VERY slowly.
- CBT: best for clinical depression & anxiety.
- ACT: Acceptance and commitment therapy. Accepting your condition doesn’t mean resignation, it is a stepping stone to moving forward.
- Mind/body sessions: Mindfulness is being not doing, Meditation recognises stillness, Yoga, Visualisations ………
- Positive thoughts in the brain are good but not if you are walking around like the picture below, lift your body into a happy posture even if you don’t feel like it, this can lift your mood!