Understanding Fibromyalgia


Fibromyalgia is a disease that causes widespread pain throughout the body. It can also cause extreme fatigue, memory issues and sleep disturbances. This disease has been diagnosed in over 12 million Americans, with women being more likely to be diagnosed than men.

It was once considered a medical mystery, with very little information known about the disease. Even now, with more research about the disease, it is starting to get more diagnosis by medical professionals, but the cause and cure are still not known.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic health disorder. It causes pain throughout the body including the muscles and bones. It is believed that repeated nerve stimulation causes brain changes in people with fibromyalgia making them feel pain more acutely. The brains receptors also may become more sensitive to pain and overreact. Fibromyalgia is often difficult to diagnose because there isn’t a conclusive test for the disease. Currently, there is no clear cause of fibromyalgia, but health professionals believe that it includes a variety of factors working together which may include genetics, infections, physical trauma and emotional trauma. Certain conditions may increase the risk of developing fibromyalgia including lupus, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Fibromyalgia can greatly diminish the quality of one’s life by making daily activities difficult. It can also cause depression and anxiety as many aspects of the disease are misunderstood.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia vary from person to person with some people experiencing more severe symptoms. Here are some of the more common symptoms of fibromyalgia:

  • Pain - The pain from fibromyalgia is often considered a dull ache that lasts for at least three months. This pain typically occurs on both sides of the body and above the waist.
  • Fatigue - Fibromyalgia can cause extreme fatigue. Those who have fibromyalgia may feel tired even though they have had lots of rest.
  • Sleeping issues - Fibromyalgia can be the cause of various sleep disorders, most prominent is waking up from pain. Many people who have fibromyalgia also have restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
  • Difficulty focusing – This symptom is commonly referred to as “fibro fog”, and impairs ones ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks.

People who have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia often suffer from these other painful conditions:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Headaches, including migraines
  • Painful Bladder Syndrome or Interstitial Cystitis
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (or TMD)

Treatment

There are many treatment options available for those who have fibromyalgia, including medication and self-care. A recommended treatment will depend on the symptoms. No one treatment will work for all the symptoms.

  • Medication - Often used for pain, mood and to improve other symptoms. These include pain relievers (both over the counter or prescription), antidepressants, and/or anti-seizure drugs.
  • Therapy – Various different therapies can help reduce the effects fibromyalgia has on the body to become more mobile and improve sleep. These include: physical therapy, occupational therapy and counseling.
  • Home Remedies – Self-care is very important to managing this disease. Methods include: reducing stress, regular exercise, slowing down, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • Alternative Therapy – Alternative methods for pain and stress management have become more popular, especially in those with chronic illness, such as Fibromyalgia. These include: acupuncture, massage therapy, yoga, and tai chi.  

Treatment plans are individualized to address the symptoms that the patient is experiencing. Certain lifestyle changes may also be beneficial for those with fibromyalgia including exercise, diet changes, limiting caffeine and alcohol, counselling and more.

Disclaimer: Information on this website is not meant to encourage the self-management of any health or wellness issue. Nor is it meant to encourage any one type of medical treatment. Any treatment or advice used may have varying results between individuals. Readers with health-related questions, are always encouraged to seek proper consultation with a physician or certified healthcare provider. No information on this website should be used to ignore any medical or health-related advice, nor should it be the root cause for a delay in a consultation with a physician or a certified healthcare provider.

No information on this website should be used to start the use of dietary supplements and vitamins, natural and herbal products, homeopathic medicine and other mentioned products prior to a consultation with a physician or certified healthcare provider.