FIBROMYALGIA – UNDERSTANDING THE MYSTERY

Understanding the mystery that is Fibromyalgia has kept many a researcher up at night.

According to the National Fibromyalgia Association, some 10 million people (mostly women) are affected by this disorder, but we still don’t know why.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that symptoms can be quite different from one person to the other and can change even in the same person depending on the time or day or the weather.

It’s sad really…and it’s led to incorrect treatment and constant, relentless pain for way too many.

While the exact cause isn’t completely understood, doctors have made a connection between the increased sensitivity to pain experienced by people with this condition, NHS Heroes Doctors and a glitch in the way their central nervous system processes pain information.

Researchers have also considered viral or bacterial infections, as well as injury or trauma to the cervical spine as potential triggers of Fibromyalgia.

Symptoms

As mentioned earlier, symptoms and how bad they are, vary. What doesn’t change is that there is always pain, and there is always fatigue.

Some people have pain in one specific area of the body, and others feel pain throughout the body and muscles.

The back of the head and neck, the elbows, hips and knees are reported to be the most sensitive areas.

The pain is usually described as aching, tenderness, throbbing or a shooting, stabbing sensation.

Numbness, tingling or burning feelings are also reported.

Some people report feeling as if they have the flu all the time. They have no physical or mental energy, and have trouble just dealing with day-to-day life.

Trouble concentrating and poor memory are also common symptoms.

Doctors aren’t sure whether sleep disturbances are a cause or a symptom of fibromyalgia — but sleep disorders, including restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea have been cited as possible fibromyalgia triggers.

IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) symptoms like diarrhea, stomach aches and bloating are common for many.

Less common symptoms include headaches, migraines, and facial pain; painful menstrual periods, dizziness, dry mouth and increased sensitivity to noise, smells and bright lights

Risk Factors

A number of factors can increase the odds that you may develop fibromyalgia. These include:

  • Gender: Women are seven times more likely than men to develop fibromyalgia.
  • Age: Symptoms usually appear during middle age (but the can also show up in children and older adults).
  • Family History: Children whose mothers have fibromyalgia are more likely to develop the condition. Studies suggest that around one in three of these children develop fibromyalgia at some point in their lives.
  •  History of rheumatic disease:People who have been diagnosed with chronic inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are at increased risk of also developing fibromyalgia.
Treatment

While there are many painkillers that can be used to treat fibromyalgia, natural treatments are often much more effective. If you’re currently suffering from fibromyalgia, the list below outlines some simple lifestyle changes that you can make to relieve the painful symptoms associated with this disorder.

  •  Exercise Regularly: Regular cardiovascular exercise is one of the best ways to treat fibromyalgia, as it increases blood flow, enhances flexibility and stimulates the release of pain reducing hormones (such as serotonin).
Since the main symptoms of fibromyalgia are pain and tiredness, low-impact cardiovascular exercises (such as cycling, swimming, walking and yoga) are often the best solutions.
  •  Vitamins, Minerals & Phytonutrients: Studies have shown that a range of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (including capsaicin, magnesium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D) can help treat fibromyalgia.
By eating a diet that’s rich in healthy, natural, unprocessed foods(such as eggs, fruits, meats, nuts and vegetables), you can make sure that you’re eating plenty of these nutrients and relieve the painful symptoms associated with fibromyalgia.
  • Chiropractic & Massage Therapy:There is little clinical evidence to support chiropractic and massage therapy as a treatment for fibromyalgia, but many patients have reported great pain relief as a result of these therapies.
Get Help

If you experience pain in your muscles that lasts for several months along with persistent fatigue, seek the help of a qualified physician, such as a Rheumatologist. Blood tests can be used to rule out underlying conditions, and a variety of treatment options are available to bring relief.

In the meantime, start making some positive lifestyle changes today and don’t blow off symptoms that persist.