IBS & Fibromyalgia Are Linked?

Did this headline shock you? Unless you are someone suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Fibromyalgia, you might be new to learning the direct connection between the two functional disorders. Both conditions result in chronic pain, which often makes everyday activities more difficult to manage.

Fibromyalgia currently affects roughly 4 million Americans, and the cause of the condition is never really treated with allopathic medicine. The majority of fibromyalgia patients report widespread bodily pain, fatigue, sleeping problems, and emotional and mental distress. Individuals living with this condition are at risk of a lower quality of life, due to the associated physical pain and mental trauma the disorder can inflict. Adults with fibromyalgia are more than three times more likely to have major depression than adults without fibromyalgia. In addition, those with the condition are also twice as likely to see more hospital visits than those without.

In the United States, between 25 and 45 million individuals are living with IBS — a condition with the hallmark symptoms of abdominal pain, digestive discomfort, and the alternating of constipation and loose stool movements. The root cause of IBS includes a disconnect in the relationship between the gut, brain, and nervous system, as well as stress factors and an imbalanced microbiome.

The Overlap Between IBS & Fibromyalgia

While many questions still exist surrounding each condition, there is strong evidence that links the two chronic disorders to overlapping with one another. Some research suggests that since both IBS and fibromyalgia may have ties to nervous system malfunctions, that the link between them boils down to disrupted nerve messaging.

Current data shows that fibromyalgia affects up to 60 percent of individuals with IBS, and up to 70 percent of those with fibromyalgia suffer from IBS symptoms. The commonalities between the two include:

  • Each condition occurs primarily in women
  • Symptoms are largely associated with stress
  • Disturbed sleep and fatigue are normal in both disorders
  • Psychotherapy and behavioral therapy can effectively treat either condition

Treating The Two Conditions Together

IBS and fibromyalgia can be tricky to treat. Since both are primarily responsible for causing chronic pain, one would think that pain medication and over-the-counter relievers would help reduce symptoms — however, this does not prove to be true — and instead is an ineffective treatment option.
With both conditions, the parietal lobe, which is the part of the brain that processes pain, sees increased activity — and this can lead to the feelings of pain being enhanced or intensified. These functional disorders can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life, especially when experiencing the combined symptoms of both IBS and fibromyalgia. Through trial and error, and years of research, a holistic, functional medicine approach has shown to be the safest and most effective method of care for these conditions.

The management and reduction of symptoms can be kept in check through a variety of lifestyle modifications including diet, exercise, stress management, and natural supplements. It is also a recommendation that individuals suffering from either or both IBS and fibromyalgia seek some form of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, due to the emotional and mental strain that these conditions inflict on individuals.

A Functional Approach to IBS & Fibromyalgia

Due to functional medicine being the most successful approach for treatment, working with a functional medicine doctor is a good starting point for those suffering from the condition(s). Here at The Epigenetics Healing Center, Dr. Goodbinder and our staff work hand-in-hand with patients to understand their full medical history, current symptoms, and past treatments to create a personalized plan to address your health concerns.

A functional medicine approach is all about being holistic, and addressing the root cause of the illness. Finding the right combination of lifestyle adjustments is unique to every individual, however, there are general starting points that could help.

In regards to exercise, regular physical activity will be beneficial to help boost your mental and emotional state, as well as fight muscle tightness and general pain symptoms. The dump of endorphins associated with exercise builds an overall sense of wellbeing and a diminished feeling of chronic pain. However, for some who are suffering, exercise may worsen symptoms. It is important to explore your personal situation with a functional medicine doctor inorder to address your specific needs.

Diet is a major component to managing IBS and fibromyalgia, as food and liquid intake can often result in harmful bodily triggers that set off inflammation and other immune responses. Therefore, a suggested diet by a functional medicine physician could help eliminate possible foods and liquids that could be creating the issue.

Stress management and supplements involve a high level of individualism and matching what best responds to your body. As stress is an intense trigger to IBS and fibromyalgia flare-ups, minimizing anxiety-filled situations and thoughts is essential. A variety of activities can help keep cortisol and adrenaline levels at a normal level, such as yoga, tai chi, reading, or other peaceful events. Multiple natural supplements can also aid in the reduction of symptoms relating to IBS and fibromyalgia. The correct supplements and dosing should be overseen by a medical professional.

IBS & Fibromyalgia Care in Kansas City

Contact The Epigenetics Healing Center to schedule an appointment with a medical to examine your current health status. Functional medicine is all about patient empowerment and helping give individuals the tools to improve their lives. Learn how we can help address your health concerns, and adjust for a better life moving forward.

Are you ready to restore your life?

Dr. G
Dr. G

Dr. Jay Goodbinder ND DC DABCI is a doctor in Kansas City, MO who serves patients in the surrounding Kansas City areas, cities across the United States, and in several countries around the world.