Fibromyalgia (fi·bro·my·al·gi·a) is a condition that causes pain all over the body (also referred to as widespread pain), sleep problems, fatigue, and often emotional and mental distress. Individuals with fibromyalgia may be more susceptible to pain than those without fibromyalgia. This is referred to as treating abnormal pain perception. Fibromyalgia affects an estimated 4 million adults in the United States or approximately 2% of the adult population. The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but it can be treated and managed efficiently.
Fibromyalgia has many symptoms that differ from person to person.
The main symptom is generalized pain and you can feel it throughout your body, but it can be worse in some areas, referred to as “trigger points.”
Common triggers include the following:
- The back of the head
- The upper side of the shoulders.
- Upper chest
- The knees
- Outer elbows
Acute, burning, or stabbing pain, which may be oddly similar to the pain of a heart attack.
The chest pain associated with fibromyalgia is concentrated in the cartilage between your ribs and the breast bone. The pain can extend across the shoulders and arms.
People with fibromyalgia may have a long-lasting back pain called lumbar tenderness, which is very common. The back is a common area that suffers from pain in fibromyalgia because muscles, in general, are often painful in the case of fibromyalgia, and the human back contains a large number of muscle fibers to support the body, so it is used regularly, which makes it more vulnerable to pain. Approximately 80% of Americans experience low back pain at some point in their lives.
*Headache and Migraine
In most cases of Fibromyalgia, headaches are an accompanying symptom, which may range from tension headaches to migraines. According to medical statistics, approximately 36 % of patients have an extremely painful headache, which is a nagging pain in the head that can vary from slight headache to severe migraine.
*Chemical unbalance in the brain.
In individuals with fibromyalgia, the brain and nerves can misinterpret or react excessively to normal pain signals. This may be due to a chemical imbalance in the brain or dysfunction of the dorsal root node affecting the central sensibility of brain pain.
*Restless Leg Syndrome
You may also experience fibromyalgia pain in your legs’ muscles and soft tissues. Leg pain may resemble the pain of tight muscles or the stiffness of arthritis. Sometimes, fibromyalgia in the legs resembles numbness or tingling. You may have an uncontrollable desire to move your legs as a sign of restless legs syndrome. You feel your heavy limbs like they’re holding on to weights.
Fibromyalgia may make you extremely susceptible to pain through your body known as hyperalgesia. When you feel very sensitive to the pain caused by something which should not be painful at all, like a very slight touch. You may also be sensitive to things like smoke, certain foods, and bright lights.
Fibromyalgia may cause you to feel stiff. Stiffness can be more severe when you are in the same position for long periods – for example when you wake up in the morning. It can also cause muscle cramps, that is when they contract hardly and painfully.
Fibromyalgia may cause extreme fatigue. This can range from the feeling of mild tiredness to the severe tiredness that often occurs during an influenza-like illness. Extreme tiredness can suddenly manifest itself, which can reduce your energy. If this happens, you may find yourself very tired of doing anything.
Fibromyalgia may interfere with your sleep. You may get more tired even when you get enough sleep. This is because the condition can sometimes keep you awake deep enough to be properly rejuvenated. It is described as restless sleep.
*Anxiety and depression
In certain cases, fibromyalgia may cause depression. This is because fibromyalgia may be difficult to manage, and the low levels of certain hormones associated with the condition may make you vulnerable to depression
There are several symptoms associated with depression, including:
- A continuous sensation of weakness.
- Feeling desperate and powerless.
- Loss of interest in what you usually love.
*Cognitive problems (“Fibro-fog”)
Cognitive problems are problems connected with mental processes, such as thinking and learning. ” Fibro-Fog” also known as “fibrous fog” or “brain fog” – is a term some people use to describe their fuzzy feeling. Fibrous fog features include:
- Memory lapses
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble staying alert
- Difficulty in recalling and learning new things.
- Attentiveness and concentration issues.
- Slowness in speaking.
*Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Some fibromyalgia sufferers also develop irritable bowel syndrome, a common digestive disorder that causes pain and bloating in their stomachs. It may also give rise to constipation or diarrhea.
Symptoms among women.
*Painful menstrual periods
Women tend to have more severe symptoms of fibromyalgia than men. they experience more morning aches and tiredness than men. One of its most common symptoms in women is dysmenorrhea, also known as painful menstruation that occurs once a month when the uterus loses its mucosa. These menses are often related to pain and cramps. But at times the pain becomes unaffordable as the female can no longer afford it.
The transition to menopause can make fibromyalgia worse.
Several factors can cause these changes, including:
A previous illness may initiate or aggravate symptoms. Influenza, pneumonia, and gastrointestinal infections, such as those caused by salmonella, shigella, and Epstein-Barr, can all be associated with fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is frequently associated with the family.
If you have a relative with the disease, you are more likely to develop it. According to scientists, certain genetic mutations could play a role. They identified a small number of potential genes that influence the transmission of chemical pain signals across neurons.
People who undergo severe physical or emotional trauma may develop fibromyalgia. Trauma can have a lasting effect on the body.
*Fibromyalgia and autoimmunity
In autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or multiple sclerosis (MS), the body mistakenly targets its tissues with proteins called autoantibodies. Just like it typically attacks viruses or bacteria, the immune system attacks joints or other healthy tissues instead.
Risk factors of fibromyalgia
a risk factor is something that raises the chances of getting a health problem.
Episodes of fibromyalgia may originate from:
*Gender: Most cases of fibromyalgia are currently diagnosed in women, though the cause of this gender disparity is unclear.
*Age: You’re more likely to be diagnosed at middle age, and your risk increases as you get older. However, it is also possible for children to develop fibromyalgia.
*Family background: If you have close family members with fibromyalgia, you may be more likely to get it.
*Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some people have this mental health problem after a terrible event, like war, a car crash, or rape. These events are also linked to fibromyalgia in some people.
Generally, treatment of fibromyalgia includes both medication and self-care strategies. Emphasis is placed on the minimization of symptoms and improvement of general health.
Medications can help alleviate pain from fibromyalgia and improve sleep. Common options include:
-Pain relievers: OTC analgesics such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve, others) may be useful.
-Antidepressants: Duloxetine (Cymbalta) and milnacipran (Savella) can help reduce the pain and tiredness associated with fibromyalgia.
-Anti-seizure drugs: Drugs designed to treat epilepsy are often helpful in reducing certain kinds of pain. Gabapentin (Neurontin) is sometimes used to reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia, while pregabalin (Lyrica) was the first drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of fibromyalgia.
*Lifestyle and home remedies
Self-care is essential to managing fibromyalgia.
-Stress management: Develop a plan for avoiding or limiting excessive exertion and emotional stress. Give yourself time each day to relax and try stress management techniques, like deep breathing or meditation exercises.
-Sleep hygiene: Because fatigue is a major component of fibromyalgia, it is essential to have good quality sleep. In addition to allowing enough time to sleep, adopt good sleep habits, like going to bed and getting up at the same time every day and limiting daytime naps.
-Exercise regularly: In the beginning, exercise can make your pain worse. But doing so gradually and steadily often lessens the symptoms. Suitable exercises can include walking, swimming, cycling, and aqua-gym.
Do something that you find pleasant and fulfilling every day.
-Have a healthy meal: Avoid smoking tobacco products and limit your caffeine intake. Moreover, drinking a lot of liquids can overwhelm your bladder, which requires frequent visits to the bathroom and this will disturb your sleep.
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes generalized chronic pain and sensitivity and may occur at any age, but most often the first strikes at middle age. If you are constantly feeling tired and have muscle pain, you may think you have flu or some other disease. But if your symptoms continue for weeks, even months and you also have insomnia, gastrointestinal distress, or cognitive issues like “brain fog”, consider making an appointment with your general practitioner to discuss the possibility of having fibromyalgia.