Fibromyalgia – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention Of Fibromyalgia
Do you feel like you have been run over by a truck? But you haven’t?
Have you felt like this every day for the past few months, and cannot account for the all-over-your-body pain?
If you are experiencing this kind of pain and are too fatigued to do the most basic tasks, it’s probable that you have fibromyalgia.
There is no provable outside cause for this, no injuries from accidents or hard work, but sometimes something like that may trigger the condition.
Fibromyalgia is the name for a medical diagnosis of this pain syndrome. It is often misdiagnosed and has puzzled the medical community for years.
Basically, it is a collection of symptoms that include fatigue, body-wide joint and muscle pain.
Most doctors have reasoned out several probable causes of fibromyalgia and have been able to suggest treatments to help those affected by this misunderstood, yet incredibly debilitating condition.
Fibromyalgia is defined as a chronic disorder which is characterised by widespread body pain in muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments along with fatigue. It leaves multiple tender points on body & often misdiagnosed by physicians.
Causes Of Fibromyalgia
Though doctors believe there may be several causes or triggers for fibromyalgia, it is widely accepted as a body’s irregular response to stress.
It is not a disease but, rather, a syndrome of chronic pain.
Brain Chemical Changes
For those people afflicted with this syndrome, the brain’s opioid receptors do not have the same level of activity. The activity is lesser than for people who do not have fibromyalgia.
Some people have had changes in the chemical aspect of the brain, which can be from high levels of stress and/or pain and not an actual brain disease or disorder.
Sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other autoimmune related ailments can develop fibromyalgia. Yet, fibromyalgia is not due to autoimmune issues, nor is there much proof to suggest an inflammatory response as in the case of autoimmune disorders.
It has also been speculated that this syndrome is genetic, some people are predisposed to have a stronger reaction to certain things than others.
If calcium is not returned to cells via the chemicals ATP (adenosine triphosphate and phosphocreatine), muscles do not relax but will stay contracted.
It has also been discovered that those who are afflicted with fibro have thickening in the small blood vessel that reside in muscles. This will not only result in a decrease of oxygen to muscles but also lower levels of substances necessary to healthy muscular function.
However, there have been cases where fibromyalgia has occurred without any known or suspected reasons. Some causes of this conditions have been found to be related to abnormalities within the body.
And, while anyone of any age can be impaired by fibro, it seems to affect more middle-aged women. It is estimated that of the more than 5 million people afflicted with the syndrome, up to 90% are women.
Yet, the direct correlation between gender or age and fibromyalgia has not been currently been discovered. While the causes of fibro are still fairly mysterious, the signs and symptoms are leading to correct diagnoses.
Signs & Symptoms Of Fibromyalgia
The more classic symptoms of fibromyalgia are extreme fatigue, increased or overall physical weakening and/or chronic pain or myofascial pain, (a syndrome where the muscles and their connective tissues feel prolonged pain and/or fatigue).
- Widespread body pain with stiffness
- Severe Fatigue
- Insomnia (Difficulty in sleeping or frequent awakening)
- Increased sensitivity of skin
- Depression & Anxiety
- Restless leg syndrome & increased sensitivity to light, noise, and smell
- Pain after exertion
- Difficulty in concentrating & Dizziness
- Fibromyalgia flare up
Yet as more research has been done new signs of fibro have been documented. Since 1990, The American College of Rheumatology, or ACR, had a certain criterion to diagnosing this syndrome.
What is fibromyalgia flare up?
Sudden increase in intensity and number of fibromyalgia symptoms is know as fibro-flare up. It may last for a day or two, while in many cases it may last for several week.
Increased fatigue & intensity of body pain is two prominent feature of fibro-flares, it may accompanied by reduced sleep, restlessness, and digestive dysfunction.
Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia
Originally, the overall, prolonged pain must last for at least 3 consecutive months.
Counting tender points
The 11 of the 18 sensitive areas (“tender points”) on the body, must be concentrated on that specific point and the pain must be severe, not moderate.
Widespread pain index & Symptom severity scale
The new requirements for a diagnosis of fibromyalgia include utilizing the “widespread pain index” (WPI) and “symptom severity scale”(SSS).
The WPI is found by counting how many areas have been painful for a week’s time.
The SSS utilizes a 0 to 3 pain severity scale for the 3 most usual symptoms, i.e. “fibro fog”, length or deepness of sleep and a general, debilitating tiredness.
When the WPI and SSS are added, the resulting score falls in a scale of 0 to 12. The “tender points” need to number either 7 or more, or 3 to 6.
The severity must range from 5 or more on the SSI scale. An additional 3 points can be counted for numbness, dizziness, nausea, depression and/or IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
One’s ability to concentrate or think referred as a “fibro fog” can be adversely affected as well. More signs are if a person is also suffering from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), depression, painful menstruation, RLS (restless leg syndrome), extremity tingling, headaches, and/or sensitivity to temperatures, dizziness, and anxiety.
Problems with breathing, vision, pelvic, urinary, and weight gain are now also considered symptoms of fibromyalgia. Dryness of the eyes, nose and mouth has become one of the signs as well. The many and varied symptoms combined with the similarity of those signs with other ailments are some of the reasons that fibromyalgia is often misdiagnosed.
What are Fibromyalgia Tender Points?
As stated, there are 18 “tender points” found on the body that are considered to be significant in diagnosing fibromyalgia.
Four of these areas are found on the neck. Two are on the back of the neck, just below the hairline and are on either left or right sides.
The other two are also on either side of the neck, but on the front of the neck and right above the collarbone.
Two more points are located on the chest (either side), with another two on either side of the upper back.
The two on the chest can be found just below the collarbone while the upper back two points fall on the joining spot of the neck and shoulders (and on opposing sides for both locations).
The other two points of the upper back are located between the shoulder blades, on both sides of the spine. For either arm, the spots can be found at the elbow bend.
The points on the lower back are on the right or left, below the waist. And the next two areas are also on right or left, below the hips.
The last two are on either kneecap. While the pain felt on the points are always severe for fibro sufferers, the pain becomes excruciating when the spots are pressed.
Again, for the diagnosis, at least 11 of these points must be painful for a prolonged time.
What can Trigger Fibromyalgia?
Doctors have been able to discern some physical conditions that may trigger, but not actually cause, fibromyalgia.
These conditions may trigger the syndrome or make a person more likely to develop fibro or make the syndrome worse.
Sleep Disorders & Stress
Fibromyalgia has been linked to sleep disorders or problems, PTSD, illnesses, physical distress, central nervous system issues and certain other chronic conditions.
There have also been cases of fibromyalgia that have been contributed by physical, mental and emotional abuse.
When a person is not sleeping well they do not experience the fourth stage of sleep or REM. This will result in waking up feeling tired and stiff as neither the mind nor muscles are able to completely relax.
Brain Chemicals changes
The way a person processes stress in the body triggers fibro when certain areas of the brain have abnormalities. Hormones and chemicals are not produced and moved throughout the body as effectively as for the people who do not have irregular brain function.
There are various physical conditions that may kick-start this syndrome. Bursitis, tendinitis, and certain types of arthritis have been found to be similar to fibromyalgia, but without the widespread pain, these are not thought to trigger for fibro.
Severe or prolonged bouts of flu-like illness have triggered some cases of fibromyalgia. It is still not proven exactly how or why fibromyalgia occurs, the medical community has learned more, but the research must continue for accurate diagnoses and effective treatment.
Treatment for Fibromyalgia?
Various methods of treatment for fibromyalgia have been implemented by medical professionals.
Some of the methods are ones that can be performed by oneself at home.
Stay active & healthy
One of the more important methods is to stay active as much as possible. While this is difficult for people who are in such overall pain, the importance of staying as healthy as possible cannot be discounted.
In some cases of fibro it has been found that exercise not only keeps your muscles in good shape but positively impacts your mood.
This will help alleviate the depression associated with this syndrome as well as have the potential to significantly lower the pain of fibro.
Getting a sufficient amount of deep sleep will allow your mind to rest and your body to completely relax. This also alleviates the effects of fibro as well as eating healthy and avoiding, changing or learning to manage better the stressful aspects of life.
Warm water therapy
Some people have been able to find relief with warm-water exercises like water aerobics and/or hot baths.
Stretching and relaxing in a hot bath or hot tub with a gentle whirlpool can soothe the pain of fibro.
Though massage is not an ideal part of treatment for fibromyalgia. It can help to relieve the severity of pain and also relax sufferer.
Using essential oils to massage is a good option, as they can have a calming effect on the body and can help to improve sleep. fibromyalgia
If these relatively simple techniques do not alleviate or decrease the painful syndrome, then a doctor will prescribe medications to facilitate control of the pain.
There are several medications that have proven beneficial to fibromyalgia sufferers. Some are opiates, but others that have shown positive results are non-opiates like Lyrica or Cymbalta.
Some serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor like Savelle has also proven effective.
In some cases antidepressant and/or muscle relaxant have been prescribed to aid the treatment. In fact, for most people afflicted with fibro, a combination of treatments is required to lessen the effects of this syndrome.
Gabapentin for fibromyalgia pain –
Gabapentin is an useful medicine to treat chronic pain, hot flushes and most importantly neuropathic pain.
It can also helps to relieve pain of fibromyalgia to a certain extent and many sufferer of fibromyalgia noted significant relief using gabapentin.
Always discuss your treatments with your doctor, and chart which ones have given you the most relief.
Treatment of fibromyalgia is a hit or miss proposition, you may try some or all remedies before you find the combination that works the best.
Fibromyalgia and Sleep
Sleeping problems have been linked in many cases to fibromyalgia; it is thought to be one of the more common reasons for the syndrome.
People can have insomnia, light sleep or frequent waking during sleep.
It is thought that about 75% of fibro afflicted people have abnormal sleep patterns. And in 61% men and 32% of women who have fibro also have sleep apnea.
Upper Airway Resistant Syndrome is the usual type of sleep apnea found in these women.
When the issues of sleep are successfully treated, patients will also feel less overall fatigue. Those who are able to improve sleep patterns will feel a general relief of symptoms.
Fibromyalgia & Depression
People who are afflicted with fibromyalgia can easily become depressed.
When a person feels the overwhelming and all over pain from fibro, they tend to withdraw from life. It becomes difficult to go to work, do chores and even doing the things that one enjoys becomes too arduous.
We all experience sadness or challenging times in our life. Depression goes beyond just feeling blue.
It is an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness and when combined with fibromyalgia, can be more than the person can overcome on their own.
Fibromyalgia and Fever
Having the flu or other illness can be a trigger for the onset of fibromyalgia.
It can sometimes be hard to know if a fever is connected to fibro or a symptom of an illness. Because people who have fibro can also have a compromised immune system or even an autoimmune disease, they are more susceptible to contracting communicable infections.
The strain on the body from fibro can cause fevers, but the person may not even be aware of running a fever as he/she is feeling the all-encompassing pain from fibro.
And while doctors have not been able to discern a direct correlation between illness and fibro, it is common for people so afflicted to run a low-grade fever.
Fibromyalgia & Exercise
It has been noted that if a person who is trying to manage the symptoms of fibro stays as active as possible, the result can be a decrease in the discomfort and pain associated with the syndrome.
The benefits of exercise for treating fibro goes beyond keeping a positive outlook on life, or staying as healthy.
It takes more effort for someone who has fibro to stay active, yet the effects can create a positive change for those people. Balance can be improved, bone mass is maintained, stress can be alleviated and weight gain can be limited.
This will make the symptoms of fibromyalgia decrease, including fatigue, sleeplessness, and pain.
While fibromyalgia is still problematic for doctors to diagnosis due to the variety of the symptoms and triggers as well as their similarity to other ailments, there has been more research to facilitate the identification of fibro.
The studies to determine the cause of fibro are ongoing, enabling more treatments to combat the effects of this syndrome. There is help available though it may take trial and error to discover the correct treatment.
Visit with your doctor if you are suffering from the symptoms or feel that a situation has trigger fibro. Treatments and information about this mysterious syndrome are more accessible, thus people who have fibro no longer need to feel as though they are alone.