The Basics of Fibromyalgia

Many people may not know about Fibromyalgia. This is a disorder that will affect the muscles and soft tissues located in a person. It is chronic and incredibly painful. It causes widespread, painful sensations all over the body and tenderness to the touch. It can also migrate to different areas of the body over time. Often symptoms such as fatigue, sleep, memory, and mood issues occur with the pain.

Fibromyalgia is a neurological health problem that affects two to four percent of the population, with about 80 to 90% of those diagnosed being women of a childbearing age. It also affects men. While it often starts in middle age, young children and teens can also have this debilitating disease. Fibromyalgia is not an autoimmune disorder, nor is it an inflammation illness. Scientists believe that this painful disease causes people to feel their pain more intensely because of the way their brain recognizes pain signals. As it affects the pain stimuli in the body tissue, it causes increased pain sensations - especially when moving or when touched. It can be aggravated further with exertion and tends to come and go.

Healthcare providers do not have a single test to detect and diagnose this disease. They consider all of the patient's symptoms and use lab work and X-rays to rule out other conditions such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. It can affect a person's physical and mental well-being, as well as their social life. There is currently no cure for Fibromyalgia. People can reduce their symptoms and find relief with a combination of medication, cognitive behavioral therapies, self-care, and light exercise.

Common Symptoms

The main symptom of people who have Fibromyalgia is tenderness and pain all over the body. This pain occurs on both the right and left side of the body as well as above and below the waist. Other symptoms vary from person to person. Many common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue and trouble sleeping
  • Stiffness upon waking
  • Cognitive problems with thinking, memory, and ability to focus
  • Depression and anxiety

Fibromyalgia also co-exists with several other conditions such as:

  • Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS)
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Migraines and other headache disorders
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Irritable or overactive bladder syndrome
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJD)
  • Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease (GERD)

The severity of symptoms ranges from small to debilitating. People often describe their pain as a deep ache that shoots, throbs, pounds, or stabs. The fatigue people is unlike the tiredness one feels on a regular long day, it is more like a long-lasting exhaustion that gets in the way of work, household chores, and exercise. Often times a lack of exercise their FM symptoms to be more severe.

Common Treatments

Researchers have not yet found a clear cause of Fibromyalgia. Some believe that it is due to a chemical or hormonal imbalance, others believe the cause is chronic stress or a traumatic event. There is no one cause of this disease, nor is there any one-size-fits-all treatment for it. While there is no cure, Fibromyalgia does not damage internal organs or muscle tissue. The current goal of FM treatment is to manage and reduce symptoms by minimizing pain, addressing sleep problems, and stabilizing the mood of patients. Treatment includes a combination of:

  • Medication prescribed by a doctor including some that specifically target Fibromyalgia.
  • Lifestyle Changes such as creating a better sleep routine, light exercise, managing stress, and healthy diets that avoid any foods that may be triggering for FM patients.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapies that teach people how their thoughts and behaviors affect their symptoms.
  • Some people also use complementary therapies (also known as integrative medicine) to reduce their symptoms. Some of these alternative therapies include:
  • Chiropractic therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Diet Supplements

Fibromyalgia is a life-changing disease. The pain it causes is personal and manifests itself differently in everyone. If you or a loved one suffers from this disease, you are not alone.

Disclaimer: The articles on this website are not meant to encourage the self-management of any health or wellness issue. Nor are they meant to encourage any one type of medical treatment. Treatment or advice used by a reader may have varying results, as each individual is different. Any article reader with a health-related question, is encouraged to seek a proper consultation with a doctor or certified health provider. The articles on this website should not be used to disregard any medical or health-related advice, nor should they be the root cause for delay in seeing a doctor or a certified health provider.

The articles on this website should not be used to start the use of dietary supplements or vitamins, natural or herbal products, homeopathic medicine or other mentioned products prior to a proper consultation with a doctor or certified health provider.

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