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Could Your Fibromyalgia 
Really Be a Case of Misdiagnosed

Lyme Disease?

   By Dr. Donald Liebell

   Is Fibromyalgia really an invisible disease? 

    Are you truly suffering from some mysterious syndrome of unknown causes?  Is it possible doctors are taking the easy way out by furnishing this bizarre sounding diagnosis, instead of making the crucial effort to delve into the cause of your symptoms?  Could it be they can’t handle the truth of what they might find?  If you have been searching for answers for your Fibromyalgia misery… this could be the most important article you’ve ever read.  All diseases and symptoms have causes—whether they are known or not… whether the medical establishment accepts them or not, or admits their existence.  

   Droves of unfortunate souls have been disastrously doomed with the diagnosis of fibromyalgia… when the tick-spread bacterial infection known as Lyme disease was lurking silently below the surface—the cause of their grisly torment.   

   If all your medical tests have been normal—and you were told it's fibromyalgia... Lyme MUST be seriously reconsidered.  

   Perhaps you think Lyme was long ruled out with blood tests.  Unfortunately the medically accepted standard Lyme blood tests are extremely faulty, controversial, and often ill-fated.  In the end, diagnosis of Lyme or fibromyalgia is largely a matter of opinion, which may be based on only a minuscule fragment of actual medical evidence.  

   No actual laboratory test or measurable medical finding exists for Fibromyalgia.  

   And unless you remember being bitten by a tick, and saw a red circular rash develop around the site of the bite… you may never be able to get a 100% accurate diagnosis of Lyme.   Without this vital evidence, many people are given up on—the true cause of their condition never medically investigated… the cookie-cutter diagnosis of fibromyalgia the result.   

   Of course the wrong diagnosis results in the wrong treatment! 

   Drugs such as Lyrica, Cymbalta, and Savella have been rampantly prescribed to treat fibromyalgia symptoms —without a shred of evidence (or apparent concern) of their CAUSES.  Our medical establishment has clearly demonstrated that this is an acceptable treatment approach. 

  Do you think it is?

   Do you think indefinitely taking prescription drugs to mask the symptoms plaguing you is a logical way to restore your health?  

   If your “fibromyalgia” is indeed the consequence of infectious disease transmitted by a tick bite… how could the fibromyalgia medicine you’re taking be appropriate treatment? 

   In my practice, I routinely encounter patients who tell me that long ago, their doctor “ruled out Lyme” with blood tests.   Even more people tell me Lyme was never mentioned or even considered!  Could it be that it is simply more convenient (and financially beneficial) to diagnose fibromyalgia than chronic Lyme disease?  Chronic Lyme is extremely problematic to medical professionals—to such a high degree that many simply do not acknowledge its existence altogether!  Search the Internet for symptoms of fibromyalgia.  Do the same for Lyme disease. 

   Go ahead… do it.  You’ll be shocked to discover that the symptoms are stunningly similar… dare I say identical? I dare. 

   But it seems the majority of doctors don’t “believe in” chronic Lyme disease.  Once upon a time, the diagnosis of fibromyalgia wasn’t medically accepted either.  Many doctors still think it’s a sham.  They tell you, you’re a hypochondriac or that “It’s all in your head!”  The irony is that some of these doctors are unwittingly semi-correct.

   According to Dr. Paul Fink, past president of the American Psychiatric Association, Lyme disease can contribute to EVERY psychiatric disorder in the “Diagnostic Symptoms Manual IV.” 

   So if your family doctor or rheumatologist has pawned you off to the psychiatrist as a nut case, maybe you should ask if they’ve read about Lyme in their medical journals:

   A study published in 2002 in the American Journal of Psychiatry, revealed that 33% of the psychiatric patients had signs of Lyme infection! 

   Nevertheless, the prescriptions for fibromyalgia drugs keep flowing.  The acceptance of fibromyalgia as a legitimate medical condition seems to have catapulted a progressively growing, multi-billion dollar niche within the pharmaceutical industry.  The same cannot be said for chronic Lyme disease.  The mere thought of it is a medical nuisance.  It seems like it’s just plain easier for doctors to put on blinders to Lyme.  Unlike fibromyalgia, there are no FDA-approved prescription drugs to treat its symptoms.  There are no designer drugs to kill the various microbes that can invade your brain, rob you of your memory, and detonate destructive neurological consequences.  The only “approved” treatment offered by traditional Western medicine is a few weeks of oral antibiotics.   

   That’s it… case closed… done deal. 

   Unfortunately this approach was intended for acute infections, immediately following an observed tick bite with the sometimes appearing characteristic bull’s eye rash (or the somewhat rare positive blood test).  But what about the severe neurological, joint, and muscular consequences of a progressive chronic infection?  One of the failures of the traditional Western medical system is the misguided notion that chronic illness can be treated in the same fashion as acute.   Chronic Lyme disease is extremely complex; it does not respond well to “traditional” treatment.   There are very few doctors who are capable of helping people who have it.  Prior to seeking treatment from me, some desperate Lyme victims have turned to a small handful of physicians who have appointed themselves “Lyme Literate Medical Doctors.”  

   They are willing to make the diagnosis of Lyme, rather than fibromyalgia.  Unfortunately, their treatment approach consisted of long-term, high-dosage antibiotic therapy (for months or even years!)  Medical scientists have warned that this approach, while it may bring relief to some; is dangerous, and suppresses immune system function (the opposite of what your body needs to truly get well).  Several of these doctors have lost their licenses for such over-prescription of antibiotics and other drugs in treating chronic Lyme.  Perhaps pharmaceutically-minded physicians may not have the vision to consider treatment methods beyond antibiotics.  My suspicion is that this pharmaceutical approach is the only thing that makes sense to them.  Nevertheless, I do feel they deserve credit for being savvy enough to acknowledge chronic Lyme… rather than joining the fibromyalgia-pushing majority.    

   Can you see why it would simply be easier for the average physician to go the fibromyalgia route? 

   With good reasons, very few physicians are willing to risk their licenses by prescribing such.  In addition, the complex condition of Lyme/Fibromyalgia is much more than a mere bacterial infection.  It has implications for the brain and entire nervous system, immune system, joints, digestive system, and many other areas the entire body.

"What about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?" 

   Maybe you’ve been told somewhere along the line that you had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  This was once a very popular diagnosis, for the symptoms likely triggered by the Epstein Barr virus, which is associated with infectious mononucleosis (“mono”).  But there’s no prescription medication for something caused by a virus.  (For more, read my article about chronic fatigue)

   Could it be that fibromyalgia was a convenient (and highly profitable) replacement diagnosis for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

   It is my experience that chronic Epstein Barr virus infection is quite common for people with chronic Lyme disease AND fibromyalgia.  The Centers for Disease Control say Epstein Barr is incredibly common period!  In addition, bacteria called Mycoplasma are commonly associated with this virus, as a nasty one-two punch.   

   Dr. Sam Donta has served as consultant to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Director of the Lyme Disease Unit at Boston Medical Center and a Professor of Medicine at BU Medical School.  He too, has noted that chronic Lyme, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Fibromyalgia have very similar symptom patterns.   As a bacteriologist, he views fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue from an infectious disease viewpoint.  

   The notion of a SINGLE cause for fibromyalgia/Lyme and many other diseases or syndromes is pitifully simplistic.  The human body is complex, and so is illness.  Diagnostic tests for Lyme and other infectious diseases have been historically flawed and inconsistent.  People have a wide variety of symptoms that can be triggered or complicated by several causes.  Diagnosis and treatment is not remotely as easy and accurate as it appears on television!  

   So the beat goes on… more fibromyalgia diagnosis, and indefinite pharmaceutical management—with little investigation into chronic Lyme (and even less awareness of effective drug-free treatments).  The mantra is fibromyalgia has no cure… but it can be managed with prescription drugs. 

   With all the science and technology available in the world… is this really the best advice doctors can come up with? 

    This is precisely why a total-body wellness approach is necessary.  My wife, Sheila suffered from chronic Lyme disease.  My daughter and I had Lyme too.  My research led me to find an extraordinarily effective, drug-free approach to recovery from chronic Lyme/fibromyalgia.  A body-strengthening, rather than a disease treating approach was the answer.  

                                                                               Dr. Donald Liebell 

The Liebell Clinic: Chronic Pain & Wellness Solutions

Natural & holistic, whole-person, wellness-based Healthcare - Drug-Free & Non-Surgical Pain Relief


​Donald K. Liebell, DC, BCAO

477 Viking Drive Suite 170

Virginia Beach VA 23452 
8:30AM - 6:30PM M,W,F 

(By Appointment Tu, Sat)