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Fibromyalgia - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

Last Updated: Dec 28, 2021

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is illness that is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain all over the body accompanied by memory, mood and sleep disorders. Experts says that that fibromyalgia amplifies the pain factors in the patient’s sensation, which happens because the painful senses is affected by the way the patient’s brain processes the pain signals on this body.

What are the first signs of fibromyalgia?

If a person is suffering from the condition of fibromyalgia then the main symptoms which he/she might observe is that of tenderness and pain in the joints and the muscles throughout the body. This pain usually shifts from one place to another but in order to meet the criteria for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia a person needs to have experienced pain for at least three months.

The pain must be severe and should be in specific body parts. Another condition like arthritis must not be present as well. Some of the other symptoms which may be exhibited by a person suffering from the condition of fibromyalgia are:

  • A person might experience itching and burning on the skin.
  • There may be cramps or muscle twitches.
  • A person might experience a headache.
  • There may be tingling or numbness in the feet and hands.
  • A person might have less energy.
  • There may be trouble in sleeping for a person suffering from the condition of fibromyalgia.
  • A person might also experience fibro fog which is a problem in concentrating and memory problems.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia :

Symptoms of this illness generally begins after a surgery, physical trauma, significant psychological stress or infections. In certain other patients, these symptoms gradually accumulates over a course of time, without showing any single event that can trigger this disease. It has been observed that women are affected with fibromyalgia more than men. Many patients who fall a prey to this disease have TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders, IBS (irritable bowel syndromes), tension headaches and also depression.

What does a Fibromyalgia flare feel like?

A Fibromyalgia flare-up is generally identified by sudden intense pain and fatigue accompanied by other blurry thoughts, digestive issues, numbness, and sleeplessness. The duration on the other hand depends on the severity of the case. In most cases, one flare-up of Fibromyalgia lasts long for almost a week.

Summary: A Fibromyalgia flare-up is generally identified by sudden intense pain and fatigue accompanied by other blurry thoughts, digestive issues, numbness, and sleeplessness.

Diagnoses:

It’s unfortunate that this disease have no cure, but there are several medications that can help to control the symptoms of this disease. Especially relaxation, exercise and stress-reduction measures do help in keeping the symptoms of fibromyalgia under control.

According to experts, researchers are of the opinion that the nerve stimulation causes the brains of the people affected with this illness to change. This change involves an abnormal level of increase in certain chemicals in the brain that aids in signaling pain factors, which are known as neurotransmitters. Moreover, people affected with this malady seem to develop a kind of lasting memory associated with the pain and hence become more sensitive , which makes them overreact to otherwise normal painful feelings in our day to day lives.

This disease often interfere with the patient’s ability to function at home or at work. Patients affected with this disease often get frustrated as people general misunderstand their painful and agonizing state of existence that results in depression and health-associated anxieties. There is also a study done recently on the relationship between fibromyalgia and MDD (Major Depressive Disorder), whereby it has been found that both these diseases have substantial similarity in psychological characteristics, neuroendocrine abnormalities, physical symptoms and treatments done for cure, between fibromyalgia and MDD.

As both these ailments have same underlying constructs hence both fibromyalgia and MDD can be seen as subsidiaries of an one disease concept.

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How serious is fibromyalgia?

If a person is suffering from the problem of fibromyalgia then the pain can be very constant and intense. If the pain from fibromyalgia is intense then a person will find difficulty in doing daily activities related to home or work. Some of the people have reported pain most of the days of their lives some of them suffer from the pain daily. Intense emotional symptoms can also be caused due to fibromyalgia.

A person suffering from the pain of fibromyalgia might start needing medications for depression and pain as they are not able to cope with the pain. Among all the symptoms of fibromyalgia, fatigue has the greatest impact on the life of a person. More than 90 percent of people are suffering from the problem of constant fatigue. The fatigue of fibromyalgia is not any ordinary fatigue. The fatigue drains the entire body. Nearly 50 percent of the people suffering from fibromyalgia report uncomfortable symptoms of IBS

Can Fibromyalgia be cured?

Today’s medical science does not have any cure for Fibromyalgia yet. But it is easy to manage. There are many medications and treatments available to manage Fibromyalgia. This is because the scientist is still looking for the root cause behind the development of Fibromyalgia.

Summary: Fibromyalgia does not have any cure so far. However, today’s advancement in medical science makes it easy to manage.

What is the best painkiller for fibromyalgia?

One of the better options for reducing fibromyalgia pain is making use of pain killers. A doctor may prescribe any over the counter pain medications for alleviating pain such as naproxen sodium, ibuprofen aspirin.

  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): the medicine belonging to the category of the SNSRIs alleviates the symptoms of the pain, mood, and sleep problems. The main drugs which are used for the treatment of fibromyalgia are milnacipran and duloxetine.
  • Gabapentin: it has been proven that this drug not only lessens fatigue but it also improves sleeping and alleviated the pain.
  • Pregabalin: this drug has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of fibromyalgia. It also reduces pain, sleeping problems, and fatigue.

These medications can be very helpful in the following ways:

  • The pain killer will improve the quality of sleep.
  • The pain killer will help in the reduction of the inflammation.
  • The pain killers reduce the aches in the muscles.

What foods trigger fibromyalgia pain?

The symptoms of fibromyalgia might be worsened if the following food is consumed by the person who is suffering from the condition.

  • Sugar: if a person is in a habit of consuming a lot of sugar then he/she needs to reduce because according to a study foods rich in sugar increase the pain of fibromyalgia.
  • Carbohydrates: IF a person is consuming a lot of refined carbohydrates like bread, pastries, white rice, and cookies then it will get digested very easily. This leads to an increase in the level of blood sugar. However, a person starts feeling hungry again, as a result, the blood sugar gets low. This fluctuation in the levels of the blood sugar would lead to the worsening of fibromyalgia pain and fatigue.
  • Processed foods: Foods that are processed consist of unhealthy fats and sugars which leads to the inflammation.
  • Alcohol: according to one of the studies which have been conducted recently revealed that if a person suffering from the problem of fibromyalgia consumes alcohol then his/her symptoms would flare-up.

Does drinking water help with Fibromyalgia?

Yes, keeping oneself hydrated is one of the most important things to manage Fibromyalgia. It helps you deal with the fatigue and weakness one experiences during Fibromyalgia. Generally, eight to ten glasses of water are recommended, however, the need for hydration differs in each case.

Summary: Keeping yourself hydrated is one of the most important things to manage Fibromyalgia. It helps you deal with the fatigue and weakness one experiences during Fibromyalgia.

What happens if fibromyalgia is left untreated?

If fibromyalgia is left untreated then the symptoms would get even worse as the time progresses. There could be permanent changes in the body of a person due to chronic pain of fibromyalgia if it is left untreated. Thus it is very important that it is diagnosed early and the treatment starts as early as possible. Fibromyalgia trigger points are the sensitive areas in the body are known as tender points. These points become very painful if any pressure is applied to it.

These points can also be referred to as trigger points. However, they are not the same thing. The parts of the body that causes pain in another location of the body are termed as trigger points. Let’s take an example if any pressure is applied to the elbow then a person might feel the pain in the hand. There are people suffering from fibromyalgia that have both trigger points and tender points. The trigger points can occur on both sides of the body.

Some of the areas where they can occur are given below:

  • Back of the head
  • Outer elbows
  • Upper chest
  • Top of the shoulders
  • Knees
  • Hips

Can you lose the ability to walk with Fibromyalgia?

Due to pain and stiffness in the legs, one may feel the loss of balance or difficulty in moving which later results in losing the ability to walk. They can also develop rheumatic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and ankylosing spondylitis.

Summary: During Fibromyalgia one may experience pain and stiffness in the legs. This results in loss of balance or difficulty in moving which later results in losing the ability to walk.

Is Fibromyalgia considered a disability?

The nature of the disease is quite complicated to understand, so it is difficult to diagnose and confirm the presence of Fibromyalgia. This is the reason why Fibromyalgia is not considered a disability as the symptoms are generally analyzed by the patient only. Furthermore, there are many job roles that one can perform even if the patient is suffering from Fibromyalgia.

Conclusion: Fibromyalgia can be described as a condition where one feels intense body pain. The cause of this medical condition can be both physical and mental. Even though it is quite common in its occurrence, there is no cure for the disease till now. It is also hard to detect among its patients.

References

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Written ByDr. E. Logesh MSPT (Master of Physical Therapy),BPTh/BPTPhysiotherapy
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