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Is there a connection between gastroparesis and fibromyalgia?

Posted by @tammyj0201 in Digestive Health, Aug 1, 2011

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2006. After having 3 abdominal surgeries within a 2 year period I was diagnosed in November of 2010 wih gastroparesis. I also had a GI bleed in October of 2010 due to chronic use of antiinflamatories. I have tried and failed all of the medication treatments and diet modifications that my doctor has suggested, so now he seems to be blaming my fibromyalgia for the gastroparesis issues. Anything that my pain specialist prescribes to help my fibromyalgia, my GI specialist disagrees with. I have had an unending flare up of my fibromyalgia symptoms since being diagnosed with gastroparesis and having a Nissen Fundoplication surgery in March of this year it got even worse. Some days I cannot even get out of bed. Does anyone else out there with gastroparesis also have fibromyalgia? Is it possible to live well again with both of these conditions simultaneously?


Posted by @pgb, Aug 17, 2011

Hello there. I also have both fibro and gp--my gastroenterologist says that there's definitely an association between the two, but that there hasn't been enough research to establish exactly how they're related. One possibility is that since fibro affects the nervous system, it may alter the function of the vagus nerve, thus causing or at least contributing to gastroparesis. And since gp makes it difficult to take in proper nutrition, that can in turn make fibro symptoms worse. It also seems that the hypersensitivity to pain and other sensations that comes with fibro applies to what's happening in the digestive tract--so for instance it's possible that someone with fibro will be more sensitive to abdominal pain and discomfort than someone without it.

I don't know which medicines you tried for the gp, but I've found that domperidone makes my fibro pain much worse, probably because it inhibits dopamine (one of the body's natural painkillers), which in turn suppresses estrogen (another of the body's natural painkillers). Ironically that also makes me even more sensitive to abdominal pain and discomfort from the gp. It sounds like you've got more severe fibro pain than I do; usually Tylenol gives me some degree of relief, so there's no conflict with the gp there, but I've read that some of the heavier pain medications can slow gastric emptying (as you may well already know); so can some of the antidepressants that are prescribed for fibro.

As far as living well with both conditions, I'm still working on that one myself! I was diagnosed with gp last April and, like you, have gotten no relief from medication or diet changes. I'm now trying acupuncture for both gp and fibro, and am also looking into the possibility of getting Botox injections as a last ditch effort not to have to go on a feeding tube. So unfortunately I don't have any real advice to offer, at least not at this point, but do know that you're not alone!


Posted by @tammyj0201, Aug 27, 2011

Thanks for your reply. It is so nice to know that I am not alone with this.Unfortunately my insurance so far won't cover the Domperidone, and maybe for once it is a good thing from your description. I have tried all other medications available for the gp and most for the fibro. Right now I am trying Cymbalta for the fibro and so far it hasn't made the gp any worse, and the fibro is getting somewhat better. I also have looked into accupuncture but unfortunately insurance won't cover and I don't have the money to pay out of pocket. I have heard good things about the Botox if you have the money to do it, since it is still considered experimental for fibro my insurance won't cover that either. I have been told that I may be a candidate for a gastric pacemaker, have you heard any pros or cons about this? My only other option as you mentioned is a feding tube, which I really don't want to do.

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Posted by Anonymous-d0f611fe, Feb 10, 2012

Putting this in writing is an eye opener. Wow, I had fibromyalgia 2002 with celebrex the pain subsided and was back to "normal". Then 2004 depression due to a family tradegy had me on medication for years. Gallbladder out 2008 from hidascan results.
After my kidney stone removed recently I ask the doctor to help me with my stomach pain. Others noticed the weight loss. Reseach indicates menapause, added hormones and high dose of vitamin D can contribute to stones. Now gastronesis!! It's hard to tell if any of these caused this condition.
Ironically a couple of months ago I went to a holistic yoga class and thought it was silly when the instructor had us pat our core ( tummy) in rhythm 100 times! To my surprise I slept the best ever with no pain. That was before I was diagnosed with gastronesis so I'm going to go back.
I wish you well and hope we both find help!

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