A woman asks BR if there is a connection between posttraumatic stress and her fibromyalgia symptoms.. she had a car accident four years ago and now finds herself suffering from debilitating CFS.. Dear BR,
A friend of mine heard you speak in Lake Tahoe and reported that you talk about a connection between posttraumatic stress and fibromyalgia. I had a car accident 4 years ago and am now suffering from debilitating CFS. My doctor believes me that I am exhausted and in pain, but cannot find anything to pin it on. What’s the story? Where can I read up on this?

Dear Elena,
The best medical explanation of the connection is in neurologist, Robert Scaer’s book, The Body Bears the Burden. In fact, the information is based on his work with auto collision and whiplash survivors. It’s brilliant and your doc should read it too. It’s heavy on the medical language, however, and if you want a layman’s explanation, my book, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal provides a pretty good translation.

The bottom line: a closed circuit of inflamed, irritated neuronal wiring, originally involved in the trauma, repeatedly shoots the body full of adrenergized biochemicals [epinepherine, norepinepherine (adrenaline) and cortisol, for instance] and then the body reacts with a settling blast of natural opiates, each time the trauma is relived through flashbacks, memories, nightmares, emotions or body movements involving the same muscle groups involved in the original trauma. Once this circuit is set up (Scaer thinks it’s because of the biologically driven Freeze Response during the original event) the body starts collecting and storing unhealthy amounts of these undischarged biochemicals in the muscle tissue, which result in pain-generating kinins that keep on irritating the system and generating more of the same.

Guided imagery, meditation, a technique called Somatic Experiencing, body work, therapeutic massage and yoga therapy are some of the techniques that will help to remind the body that it knows how to settle itself down and discharge these biochemicals, and will eventually interrupt this "kindled feedback loop".

Check out the info and let your doc know about it too. Good luck.