Fibromyalgia (fi.bro.my.al.gi.a) is a condition that causes pain across the body (also called generalized or widespread pain), sleep disturbances, tiredness, and often emotional and mental distress. People with fibromyalgia may be more sensitive to pain compared to people without fibromyalgia. This is called the treatment of abnormally perceived pain. Fibromyalgia affects about 4 million adults in the USA or about 2% of the adult population. The cause of fibromyalgia is still unknown, but fortunately, it can be handled and managed effectively.
Fibromyalgia presents numerous symptoms which differ from one person to another. The main symptom is generalized pain and you may feel it all over your body, but it may be worse in certain areas. Although fibromyalgia is a condition known to cause widespread pain, doctors used to identify specific areas of the body called “tender points” that felt more sensitive to the touch of patients with fibromyalgia than to someone without it.
Sensitive points are specific areas of pain that are close to your joints but are not the joints themselves. They hurt when you press on them. Even pressing a finger as a poke can make someone wince or flinch. These tender points are not located at random. They are in specific areas of the body and are about 1 centimeter small. They help to distinguish between people with good health and people with fibromyalgia.
The sensitivities of fibromyalgia tend to be symmetrical within the body. They are placed over and below the waist around the neck, chest, shoulders, hips, and knees. The sensitive point should cause pain in this exact area when the doctor presses on it with enough strength to turn their white nail. It should be painful at the exact point of pressure.
1. The back of the neck
If you have fibromyalgia, you may have tender points at the back of the neck, where the base of the skull and the neck meet. Neck pain can also be caused by wounds, rheumatoid arthritis, or activities that tire the neck, such as bending or sleeping in an uncomfortable position.
2. The elbows
Patients with fibromyalgia can also feel sensitivity on their forearms, near the end of each elbow. The pain tends to be below the fold and toward the external side of the arm. Other reasons for elbow pain may include tendonitis or repetitive strain injuries.
3. The front of the neck
In addition to the back of the neck, doctors will check prospective fibromyalgia patients for pain in the front of the neck. This set of release points is located well above the clavicle on either side of the larynx.
4. The hips
Hip pain is common in people with osteoarthritis, but people with arthritis tend to experience it in the joint. However, people with fibromyalgia may have tender points near where the gluteal muscles bend to join the thighs.
5. The lower back
The lower back is one of the most common areas of the body that is the source of pain. On the whole, more than one in four American adults suffered from low back pain. However, people with fibromyalgia may have pain triggers in the upper buttocks, just below the lower back.
6. The knees
Although knee problems are common in individuals with fibromyalgia, the interior of each knee pad may feel sensitive to touch.
7. The upper back
Triggers are often areas of the body where tendons and muscles meet. This is the case of this pair of tenderness points, situated where the back muscles connect to the shoulder blades in the upper back.
8. The shoulders
In addition to the tenderness in the upper back, some people with fibromyalgia have stitches of tenderness just above, mid-way between the edge of the shoulder and the lower neck.
9. The chest
People with fibromyalgia may have sensitivities on each side of the sternum, a few inches below the clavicle (near the second rib). The sternum also referred to as the sternum, helps protect the heart and lungs.
The most common symptoms of fibromyalgia are:
Generalized pain is the most prevalent symptom. .Fibromyalgia can make you highly sensitive to pain throughout your body known as hyperalgesia. When you feel very susceptible to the pain caused by something that should not be painful at all, such as a very mild touch. You can feel it all over your body, but it can get worse in some areas, called “trigger point or tender points.”
Fibromyalgia can make a person feel stiff. Stiffness can be worse when you are in the same position for long periods – for instance when you wake up in the morning. It may also cause muscle cramps, which means when they contract hard and pain.
3.Headache and Migraine
In most cases of fibromyalgia, headaches are a symptom that can range from high blood pressure headaches to migraines. According to medical statistics, about 36% of patients have an extremely painful headache, which is a throbbing pain in the head that may vary from a mild headache to a severe migraine.
4.Chemical unbalance in the brain.
In people with fibromyalgia, the brain and nerves may misinterpret or over-react to normal pain signals. This can be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain or a malfunction of the dorsal root node affecting the central sensitivity of brain pain.
5.Restless Leg Syndrome
You may also experience fibromyalgia in the muscles and soft fabrics of your legs. Leg pain can be similar to tight muscle pain or stiffness of arthritis. At times, fibromyalgia in the legs looks like numbness or tingling. You can have an uncontrollable urge to move your legs as a sign of restless leg syndrome. You feel your heavy limbs as if they cling to weights.
Fibromyalgia can result in extreme tiredness. It can range from the feeling of light fatigue to the severe fatigue that often occurs during a flu-like illness. You may suddenly experience extreme fatigue, which can reduce your energy. If this happens, you can find yourself very tired from doing something.
Fibromyalgia can make it difficult for you to sleep. You can become more tired even when you get plenty of sleep. This is because the condition may sometimes keep you awake deep enough to be properly refreshed. It is referred to as restless sleep.
8.Anxiety and depression
In some instances, fibromyalgia can lead to depression. This is because fibromyalgia can be difficult to manage, and low levels of certain hormones associated with the disease can make you susceptible to depression. Several symptoms are associated with depression, such as:
– A continued sense of weakness.
– The feeling of hopelessness and helplessness.
– Loss of interest for what you typically enjoy.
9.Cognitive problems (“Fibro-fog”)
Cognitive issues are issues related to 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 sensation. Characteristics of fibro fog include:
– Memory lapses
– Difficulty concentrating
– Difficulty in remaining alert
– Trouble remembering and learning new things
– Attention and focus issues
– Slowness to talk
10.Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Some people suffering from fibromyalgia also develop irritable bowel syndrome, a common digestive condition that causes pain and bloating in their stomach. It may also result in constipation or diarrhea.
*Symptoms in female patients
Females tend to have more serious symptoms of fibromyalgia than males. they experience more morning pain and exhaustion than men. One of its most frequent symptoms in women is dysmenorrhea, also known as painful menstruation which occurs once a month when the uterus loses its lining. These periods are often linked to aches and cramps. But sometimes the pain becomes unaffordable because the female can no longer afford it. Going through menopause can aggravate fibromyalgia
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.
4.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.
● Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis: If you have lupus or rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you are more likely to develop fibromyalgia.
● Repetitive injuries: Injury from repetitive stress on a joint, such as frequent knee bending.
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.
-Good 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.
-Regular exercise: 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.
-Having 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 the 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.