Recent workshops on fibromyalgia have proven popular in the local area, and more sessions are planned on what some specialists call an "isolating" disease.
"There's not too many treatment programs in this area," said mental health counselor Linda Parkhill, who operates The Parkhill Center in Martinsburg. The center was the site of a workshop Tuesday where a group of local physicians and fibromyalgia patients discussed the disease in-depth with therapist Cathy Embrey.
Parkhill said fibromyalgia is a contemporary disease, one that is such a hot topic these days. The disease is an arthritis-related condition that causes widespread muscle and joint pain and fatigue, among other symptoms.
Embrey said she suffered with the painful condition for two decades. After walking herself through the healing process, she developed an educational 14-step program.
The program involves multiple elements including diet and nutrition, stress management, breathing and sleeping techniques, and Parkhill said it will be offered to the public in the near future as a series of classes at the facility.
"Fibromyalgia is healable, not curable," Embrey said, cautioning that while drug therapies are effective for a while, should not be used on a long-term basis. "It's one of the first body, mind and spirit illnesses, a Western civilization disease."
Personality types of fibromyalgia sufferers tend to be hard working, co-dependent caregivers, 75 percent of which are women.
"These are self-sacrificing people; they have lived a full life beyond that of a person in their 70s," she said.
She went on to share the many common symptoms presented by the disease, alternative therapies along with professional medical reviews and supervision.
Also on hand to answer questions were health care professional Carol Bragg, who specializes in low-light laser therapy, and nutritionist Rosemary Johnson, who discussed ways in which specific services can be effectively used by fibromyalgia patients in Embrey's recommended healing process.
The workshop was presented for a second time later Tuesday evening, drawing in an even larger crowd of listeners.
"We had such positive feedback from yesterday. I didn't even get a seat!" Parkhill said, delighted that the lecture sparked such interest in the public.
More information about the upcoming summer fibromyalgia classes is available by contacting The Parkhill Center at (304) 754-7723.
The Parkhill Center is in the Ridgefield Business Center off W.Va. 9 West in the Martinsburg/Hedgesville area.