Catastrophe Theory: Bridges and BFS

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Catastrophe Theory: Bridges and BFS

Postby seventhcandle on July 21st, 2013, 3:10 am

As several of you may know, I am a mathematician by training and you may be wondering wtf does this have to do with BFS? Well, I was very intrigued by BFSBurger's post about HPA axis dysfunction and after thinking some more about how "suddenly" severe twitching comes on and often persists unmitigated for years and years, even for life, I think I can at the very least offer up a simple mathematical theory that at the very least may explain what's going on neuronally and why the term "neuronal hyperexcitability" (I think a term Matt's neurologist coined) may be the most appropriate name for what's going on.

It is a medically proven fact that it is physiologically more difficult for muscles to relax than to contract. It actually takes MORE energy and spinal coordination for muscles to stay in a relaxed state than it does for them to be in movement or in contraction. As counterintuitive as this may seem, it is true for all vertebrate animals and part of the great mystery of the spinal cord and its related functions. If you don't believe me, look it up.

So what does math have to do with it?

There is a branch of mathematics that deals with real-life situations such as disease outbreak, population growth & decay, and mechanics called "nonlinear dynamics" or "dynamical systems." If you have an engineering background (which oddly enough seems to run in the BFS family), you may be familiar with this field of math. If not and you hate math, don't stop reading yet...this is going to be very non-technical.

So what is a catastrophe mathematically speaking?

Well in math, we say that a dynamical system can be in one of three states: stable, semi-stable, and unstable. As to which state a system is in, it really depends on a number of factors, including initial conditions, perturbating factors, etc etc.

The bottom line is this: all dynamical systems, including the human body, are in a constant state of entropy, meaning that they naturally tend toward chaos or instability. However, our body is designed via evolution to try to maintain a state of homeostasis, or stability, if you like.

To use a fun analogy, think of two different bridges that were designed in two different ways, one with more mechanical flaws than the other. Now pretend this bridge is your neuromuscular system.

Intuitively, the bridge built with the greatest structural integrity will have the best chance of surviving disaster and the one with less structural integrity is most likely to collapse.

So the analogy would go that a person with a very strong neuromuscular system would have a better chance of not developing BFS than someone whose neuromuscular system is anatomically different (i.e. the T-channels in the muscle are structurally different...this is what one neurologist who specializes in neuronal imagining thinks and there is some evidence to support this theory...but even if you don't agree with it, let's just roll with the fact that *something* is different anatomically in people who develop BFS).

Now both bridges can carry cars across them just fine when in operation, but over time stressors and other factors (wind shear, rust, age, load) will cause one bridge to become weaker than the other. Both bridges are considered to be "stable" while still in operation and can carry cars across them just fine.

Again, the analogy would go that a person with a normally structured neuromuscular system would be able to handle the stressors of life (anxiety, unhealthy food, f*cked up sleep patterns, stress, etc.) much better than the person with altered T-channels. But, while both neuromuscular systems are in a "stable" state, you wouldn't notice any difference in muscle function between the two people. Neither has BFS.

In mathematics, there is usually a value that determines when a system that is stable will cross the line into instability. The general rule of thumb is while stable or near stability, your system will tend to stay there in a stable state, but more you perturb away from that state, the more you risk crossing what is known as a "catastrophe point" at which the system enters into a state of sudden and very abrupt instability that is very often intractable.

With the less stable bridge, all those years of wear and tear and its fundamentally flawed design bring it closer and closer to that catastrophe point as the days pass. Then all it takes is one triggering event - it could be an earthquake, heavy winds, a column that fails under load, or anything really...the bridge reaches its "catastrophe point" and enters into collapse mode. Now the bridge may not fully collapse at this point, but that's where it is ultimately headed. Think of "Galloping Gertie." For awhile, the swaying bridge was still servicable, but by today's structual engineering standards...um no. A bridge that fails will do so remarkably quickly...it's awe inspiring how fast a bridge can collapse.

Now neuromuscularly speaking, there also would appear to come a point at which a "triggering event" such as too much stress, a vaccination, illness, drug, or whatever, causes the delicate cerebral-spinal-muscular balance required for optimal muscle relaxation to break down and break down rapidly. This triggering event would bring about the catastrophe causing muscle relaxation stability to enter into a sudden and in some cases rapidly progressing state of instability...the bridge has collapsed. The whole system enters into a state of instability and complete chaos takes over (hence rapid, widespread fasciculations)...everything is all garbled up and chaotic.

In a mathematical system, instability feeds off of itself and just gets worse and worse...think of an earthquake where megatons of pressure on the earths crust are released all at once. There are going to be little aftershocks all over for decades to come.

BFS is like an earthquake...you get nasty ass twitching in your calves and feet to start maybe, and then aftershock effects all over the f*cking place...and then another big earthquake (flare-up) and so on, for the rest of your life, although things do seem to calm down for most people...and why?

Well, even chaotic systems can approach a state of stability over time and appear to settle down, but it's still chaotic! And in some rare cases, they can return to a state of near stability.

So blame BFS on your genetics maybe...altered T-channels in the muscle fibers...and just way too much stress on an already delicate system. BFS begins when the neuromuscular system passes its catastrophe point, which is easier to do in people who suffer from generalized anxiety because there is probably something already there (either environmental, genetic, or a combination of both) that keeps driving their nervous system into a state of more and more disorder, making that ever-so-delicate balance of muscle relaxation harder and harder to maintain.

When a bridge collapses, engineers will just build a new one in its place.

In our case, we cannot build a new neuromuscular system (not yet, anyway), but we can respect the disorder that years of panic, stress, anxiety, and self-abuse brought and change our lifestyles so that we can approach as much stability as possible in an intractably chaotic system...perhaps enough stability to not even notice the twitching anymore.
Been on the BFS journey since 6/26/12...

Twitch way do I go from here?

BFS does get better with time. Almost two years in and able to do almost everything I could do before I had this condition. Still twitching away of course...
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Re: Catastrophe Theory: Bridges and BFS

Postby MarioMangler on July 21st, 2013, 3:37 am

That's as good a theory as any. Great post.
Last edited by MarioMangler on July 21st, 2013, 11:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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2. No, the location doesn't matter
3. Yes, we have all had that symptom
4. No, you're not the exception
5. No, that's not ominous
6. No, you don't need an EMG
7. Yes, you will be fine
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Re: Catastrophe Theory: Bridges and BFS

Postby chrissi on July 21st, 2013, 4:53 am

To me is has been obvious from the beginnings that there must be a genetic predisposition to develop BFS and latee the outbreak is triggered by something, no idea what. For example there seems to be a quite obvious tendendy to develop BFS if you are hypermobile ( genetic) . But what is fascinating is the fact, that e.g. People that are hypermobile have an 80% chance of developing Fibromyalgia related diseass in their live. And are 20 times (!!!!!) more likely to develop GAD or OCD. And I bet there are hundrets or thousands of other genetic patterns and protein alternations that make us prone to develop something. Why do some people develop cancer in spite of healthy living? On the other hand, why are there a handful of cancer- free survivors from the first clean- up teams of tchernobyl, why the rest of the team died shortly after they ended their job? Why do we have whole families that twitch?
Everybodys body has a breaking point, a disease where the dam breaks when the pressure ( mentally or physical) is becoming too big. Ours is BFS. Maybe the crack has been there all the time because we were born with it. My mother in law gets bacterial bronchitis whenever she is stressed. My mum bladder infections. Truely " hard fact" diseases caused by microbes, but triggered by stress. There are a lot of things that fit to the disease of BFS, and this theory and adrenal fatigue actually sound quite likely, because it suits the variety of things that can trigger it. Some peoples BFS seems to be brought on my infections, some react to food, many have a history of GAD, insufficient sleep, over exercising.
But even if a genetic predisposition is there ( like T channels or whatever) it does not mean that it is totally not cureable. Once we are aware what our breaking point is, we have the chance to use our BFS as a sensor for what our body needs. Usually stress reduction has the biggest success. But as with all genetic predispositions, it can happen to some people that it just breaks through no matter what they do, and lifestyle does not have too much influence on it. I am happy because I am in the first group and could get rid of it for now, but also the people from the second group learn to live with it as time passes and at some point do not care about it any more.
"Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it" Kahlil Gibran
Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained
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Re: Catastrophe Theory: Bridges and BFS

Postby SecretAgentMan on July 21st, 2013, 10:14 am

This is a very well thought out and explained analogy. Are you sure you're a mathematician? You could easily pass as an engineer! :) I'm an engineer by the way...

Anyway, if you don't mind some interjection from another perspective I think there is a missing component from this analysis. It took me some time to come around to this different way of thinking because it was against my engineering nature, but its validation in my experience has been overwhelming. Human beings are not mechanical machines. There is a guiding force in our lives and our health that cannot be likened to a bridge because bridges are not living, breathing sentient beings. Western medicine tends to treat the human body as a machine where the mind and brain are one in the same. Eastern medicine on the other hand sees the mind and the brain as two separate things entirely. They are connected and related, but not one in the same. Although they are in the minority some scientists are not afraid of the taboo of this subject and they are diving in to better understand the relationship between our minds, our bodies, and our health.

Consider the following article with an open mind. It discusses how our minds actually influence our DNA. I do not believe we are so helpless against the cards we are dealt genetically speaking. I believe we have much more influence over the stability of our lives and bodies than many of us believe. While it is true that no two human beings are genetically equal, we are not helpless against this either. Anyway, thanks for the thought provoking discussion. Article: http://www.themindunleashed.org/2013/07 ... ammed.html
If your mind is your own worst enemy, why not make friends with it and turn it into your greatest ally? Mental discipline is achievable and there is help available. Learn what works for you, practice, and change your life for the better.
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Re: Catastrophe Theory: Bridges and BFS

Postby Arkansan on July 21st, 2013, 10:38 am

Very interesting post. I agree, it seems like for many of us BFS begins with a major stressor, for me it was the combination of AFib and my wife's first and sadly failed pregnancy. I have been an anxious person my entire life particularly when it comes to health. I spent the first month after my bout of AFIB in over drive, constantly checking my pulse and worrying that my heart would stop. Then BAM trembling in my left arm as I washed dishes, leads to Google, which we all know how that goes. Here I am a full year later, still twitching, tingling, tremoring, ratcheting at the joints and buzzing. I have noticed though less anxiety means less symptoms.

I still can't help but wonder if I was just a time bomb and any major stressor would have set me off.
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Re: Catastrophe Theory: Bridges and BFS

Postby Seepi27 on July 21st, 2013, 7:38 pm

seventhcandle wrote:As several of you may know, I am a mathematician by training and you may be wondering wtf does this have to do with BFS? Well, I was very intrigued by BFSBurger's post about HPA axis dysfunction and after thinking some more about how "suddenly" severe twitching comes on and often persists unmitigated for years and years, even for life, I think I can at the very least offer up a simple mathematical theory that at the very least may explain what's going on neuronally and why the term "neuronal hyperexcitability" (I think a term Matt's neurologist coined) may be the most appropriate name for what's going on.

It is a medically proven fact that it is physiologically more difficult for muscles to relax than to contract. It actually takes MORE energy and spinal coordination for muscles to stay in a relaxed state than it does for them to be in movement or in contraction. As counterintuitive as this may seem, it is true for all vertebrate animals and part of the great mystery of the spinal cord and its related functions. If you don't believe me, look it up.

So what does math have to do with it?

There is a branch of mathematics that deals with real-life situations such as disease outbreak, population growth & decay, and mechanics called "nonlinear dynamics" or "dynamical systems." If you have an engineering background (which oddly enough seems to run in the BFS family), you may be familiar with this field of math. If not and you hate math, don't stop reading yet...this is going to be very non-technical.

So what is a catastrophe mathematically speaking?

Well in math, we say that a dynamical system can be in one of three states: stable, semi-stable, and unstable. As to which state a system is in, it really depends on a number of factors, including initial conditions, perturbating factors, etc etc.

The bottom line is this: all dynamical systems, including the human body, are in a constant state of entropy, meaning that they naturally tend toward chaos or instability. However, our body is designed via evolution to try to maintain a state of homeostasis, or stability, if you like.

To use a fun analogy, think of two different bridges that were designed in two different ways, one with more mechanical flaws than the other. Now pretend this bridge is your neuromuscular system.

Intuitively, the bridge built with the greatest structural integrity will have the best chance of surviving disaster and the one with less structural integrity is most likely to collapse.

So the analogy would go that a person with a very strong neuromuscular system would have a better chance of not developing BFS than someone whose neuromuscular system is anatomically different (i.e. the T-channels in the muscle are structurally different...this is what one neurologist who specializes in neuronal imagining thinks and there is some evidence to support this theory...but even if you don't agree with it, let's just roll with the fact that *something* is different anatomically in people who develop BFS).

Now both bridges can carry cars across them just fine when in operation, but over time stressors and other factors (wind shear, rust, age, load) will cause one bridge to become weaker than the other. Both bridges are considered to be "stable" while still in operation and can carry cars across them just fine.

Again, the analogy would go that a person with a normally structured neuromuscular system would be able to handle the stressors of life (anxiety, unhealthy food, f*cked up sleep patterns, stress, etc.) much better than the person with altered T-channels. But, while both neuromuscular systems are in a "stable" state, you wouldn't notice any difference in muscle function between the two people. Neither has BFS.

In mathematics, there is usually a value that determines when a system that is stable will cross the line into instability. The general rule of thumb is while stable or near stability, your system will tend to stay there in a stable state, but more you perturb away from that state, the more you risk crossing what is known as a "catastrophe point" at which the system enters into a state of sudden and very abrupt instability that is very often intractable.

With the less stable bridge, all those years of wear and tear and its fundamentally flawed design bring it closer and closer to that catastrophe point as the days pass. Then all it takes is one triggering event - it could be an earthquake, heavy winds, a column that fails under load, or anything really...the bridge reaches its "catastrophe point" and enters into collapse mode. Now the bridge may not fully collapse at this point, but that's where it is ultimately headed. Think of "Galloping Gertie." For awhile, the swaying bridge was still servicable, but by today's structual engineering standards...um no. A bridge that fails will do so remarkably quickly...it's awe inspiring how fast a bridge can collapse.

Now neuromuscularly speaking, there also would appear to come a point at which a "triggering event" such as too much stress, a vaccination, illness, drug, or whatever, causes the delicate cerebral-spinal-muscular balance required for optimal muscle relaxation to break down and break down rapidly. This triggering event would bring about the catastrophe causing muscle relaxation stability to enter into a sudden and in some cases rapidly progressing state of instability...the bridge has collapsed. The whole system enters into a state of instability and complete chaos takes over (hence rapid, widespread fasciculations)...everything is all garbled up and chaotic.

In a mathematical system, instability feeds off of itself and just gets worse and worse...think of an earthquake where megatons of pressure on the earths crust are released all at once. There are going to be little aftershocks all over for decades to come.

BFS is like an earthquake...you get nasty ass twitching in your calves and feet to start maybe, and then aftershock effects all over the f*cking place...and then another big earthquake (flare-up) and so on, for the rest of your life, although things do seem to calm down for most people...and why?

Well, even chaotic systems can approach a state of stability over time and appear to settle down, but it's still chaotic! And in some rare cases, they can return to a state of near stability.

So blame BFS on your genetics maybe...altered T-channels in the muscle fibers...and just way too much stress on an already delicate system. BFS begins when the neuromuscular system passes its catastrophe point, which is easier to do in people who suffer from generalized anxiety because there is probably something already there (either environmental, genetic, or a combination of both) that keeps driving their nervous system into a state of more and more disorder, making that ever-so-delicate balance of muscle relaxation harder and harder to maintain.

When a bridge collapses, engineers will just build a new one in its place.

In our case, we cannot build a new neuromuscular system (not yet, anyway), but we can respect the disorder that years of panic, stress, anxiety, and self-abuse brought and change our lifestyles so that we can approach as much stability as possible in an intractably chaotic system...perhaps enough stability to not even notice the twitching anymore.


In short, then, an overloaded nervous system is bound to break down at some point.
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Re: Catastrophe Theory: Bridges and BFS

Postby aztwitchy on July 21st, 2013, 9:13 pm

Awesome post
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Re: Catastrophe Theory: Bridges and BFS

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