Fibromyalgia is an uncommon chronic pain syndrome. It’s characterized by long-term, body-wide pain specifically involving the soft tissues. Because of the chronic, widespread pain, it is often misdiagnosed as other disorders, like rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms of fibromyalgia usually originate from a lifetime of injuries to your myofascia, complicated by inflammatory food and environmental toxicity. Because this condition involves long-term, usually constant pain, discomfort, hormonal dysfunction and adrenal stress, patients also tend to have fatigue and mood issues. In fact, the chronic tiredness and sleeplessness caused by fibromyalgia pain is often misdiagnosed as issues like depression or chronic fatigue syndrome.
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is not a disease. It is a description of a biology that has lost reserve and suffers from various levels of fatigue and pain. Possible contributors to causing the loss of resilience and constellation of symptoms that are called fibromyalgia include:
- Serious physical or emotional trauma
- Nervous system dysfunction – areas in the brain that are responsible for pain respond to stimuli with an unusual amount of sensitivity
- Having already been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder
- Widespread viral infection or illness
- Fascia injuries through your lifetime
- Eating inflammatory food
- Exposure to environmental poisons
Other risk factors include age and gender. People over 40 and women are more likely to develop this condition.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a syndrome rather than a disease. A syndrome is a collection of symptoms and medical problems that occur together but are not related to an identifiable cause. A disease, on the other hand, has a specific cause and recognizable symptoms.
That being said, the main ailment in this condition is the widespread pain. For a fibromyalgia specialist to diagnose a patient with the syndrome, the pain must be present for 6 months or more. It must meet certain severity scores and affect enough parts of the body to be considered widespread. Many times, fibromyalgia will co-occur with another chronic condition with pain symptoms, such as migraines, TMJ and arthritis. This makes diagnosing the syndrome very difficult.
Besides the ever-present pain in the majority of body parts, other symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
- Cognitive issues: People with fibromyalgia might have problems with thinking, focusing and memory.
- Nerve dysfunction: Patients might experience burning or numbness in the hands and feet, as well as strange, uncomfortable or even painful issues with their skin. They may also have frequent cramping and/or muscle twitching. Pelvic pain and headaches are also sometimes present.
- Sleep problems: Mild to severe insomnia and fatigue are probably the most common symptoms of fibromyalgia besides the pain. They may directly relate to the cognitive problems.
As with many chronic pain conditions, the constant presence of pain can cause depression and/or anxiety, irritability and mood issues. Being in pain all the time is difficult – having trouble with everyday activities to the point of being debilitated is sure to affect your outlook.
How Doctors Treat Fibromyalgia
To diagnose fibromyalgia, besides the requirements for pain severity and prevalence, doctors typically perform comprehensive blood panels and even sleep studies to rule out anything else that might be causing the debilitating pain and fatigue.
Upon diagnosing a patient with fibromyalgia, there are several methods doctors use to manage the condition. Often, a doctor will prescribe antidepressants or anti-convulsives to calm the nervous system. Typically, implementing new lifestyle habits is also recommended, including:
- CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy)
- Physical activity like yoga or a regular exercise routine
- Meditation, Biofeedback
Blatman Health and Wellness Center specializes in comprehensive and regenerative medicine for chronic pain disorders like fibromyalgia. And most people with fibromyalgia can get better. Call our office today to learn what types of alternative therapies and treatments we provide for patients suffering from this syndrome.