What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a complex pain condition involving a variety of symptoms that are often misdiagnosed. When you develop fibromyalgia, you usually have trigger points. These areas of your body can become so sensitive that the slightest touch can cause extreme and widespread pain. Trigger points can also have a persistent ache lasting for three months or more. Common locations of trigger points include:
- Back of your head
- Tops of your shoulders
- Upper chest
- Outer elbows
- Lower back
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
The trigger points mentioned earlier actually overlap with greater problem areas, referred to as regions of pain. Fibromyalgia causes both, and if you feel a consistent, dull ache in the areas listed above or four out of the five regions of pain, it would be best to consult a healthcare professional. However, pain is not the only symptom of fibromyalgia. You may also experience the following:
- Sleep Problems
- Dry Eyes
- Morning Fatigue
- Sleep Fatigue (or sleeping without feeling rested)
- Major Depression
- Bladder Problems
- Emotional Health Issues
People with fibromyalgia may also suffer from mental health issues, including brain and fibro fog. The symptoms of which typically include:
- Trouble Focusing
- Memory Problems
- Issues Staying Alert
Complications That Come with Fibromyalgia
Symptoms aside, fibromyalgia is capable of causing large changes in your lifestyle with complications. Common problems increased by fibromyalgia include:
- Increased Chance of Depression: You are three times more likely to suffer from depression when dealing with fibromyalgia as an adult.
- Increased Chance of Suffering from Another Rheumatic Condition: If you suffer from fibromyalgia, you will likely develop another form of arthritis or other rheumatic condition. It is common to suffer from co-occurrences of rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematous, and more.
- A Higher Chance of Hospitalization: People suffering from fibromyalgia have a higher chance of being hospitalized than those without the pain.
Identifying Fibromyalgia Pain
The chief sign of when you develop fibromyalgia is pain springing up in your muscles and other areas containing soft tissues. The severity and location of this pain may change, depending on your situation, and can have severe effects on your lifestyle.
- Chest Pain: Fibromyalgia chest pain can feel like an intense stabbing sensation. The regions of pain affected is centered around the breastbone and ribs, radiating outwards to affect the shoulders and even the arms.
- Leg Pain: When the soft tissue and muscles of the leg are affected, it may feel similar to symptoms of a sore muscle or arthritis. You may assume that you are suffering from a pulled muscle, restless leg syndrome, or simple fatigue. The symptoms overlap and may cause confusion.
Regardless of location, when suffering from this painful condition, you may experience sensations like:
- Difficulty catching your breath.
Again, these issues overlap with symptoms of issues like fatigue, arthritis, and sore muscles. It is best to be sure, so speak to a medical professional to identify the problem and take steps to prevent your symptoms from worsening.
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
While the precise cause of fibromyalgia isn’t known, it’s believed that this form of chronic pain starts because of specific changes in the brain. It begins when your nerves and nerve receptors become more sensitive to stimulation, causing your brain to overreact to their pain signals. These changes can also make your brain reduce your body’s threshold for pain. Several factors increase your chances of having fibromyalgia.
- Having a Family History of the Disorder: If you have a family member with fibromyalgia, you are at higher risk of developing it.
- Past or current illnesses and infections have possible links to fibromyalgia and may cause symptoms or worsen them. Illnesses and infections with a connection to fibromyalgia include:
- Epstein-Barr Virus
- Gastrointestinal Infections
- Physical, Mental, and Emotional Trauma or Stress
- Stress is linked to several musculoskeletal and skin diseases. Excess stress has long-lasting effects on your body, including causing people to develop fibromyalgia.
- The chronic disease has also been linked to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Age: Children can develop fibromyalgia, but the risk increases with age, with most cases being diagnosed in a person's middle age.
- Fibromyalgia is considered more common for females, with the sex suffering a majority of documented cases. They also suffer from increased symptoms like morning fatigue, painful periods, IBS, and more widespread pain throughout the body that may worsen during menopause.
- Men can also suffer from the harsher symptoms of fibromyalgia and should speak to a medical professional if signs of the pain condition occur.
Common Fibromyalgia Triggers
Stress is a key factor in causing fibromyalgia flare-ups, and it affects different people in unique ways. Situations that can affect your stress include:
- Getting sick or being affected by trauma, mental or physical
- An improper diet where you don't get enough nutrition
- A sudden change in your daily routine
- Improper or uncomfortable sleep
- Emotional stress caused by lifestyle changes
- Changes in your environment, like location or weather
It's also common, when you have fibromyalgia, to develop other conditions like migraine headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, or painful bladder syndrome.
How to Treat Fibromyalgia
The primary goal for fibromyalgia treatment is managing your pain and improving your quality of life. As experienced pain management specialists, the Garden State Pain & Orthopedics team might recommend a variety of therapies to manage your condition based on the severity of your symptoms. Common treatments for fibromyalgia include:
- Medications like pain relievers, antidepressants, and anti-seizure drugs
- Physical therapy to improve your flexibility, strength, and stamina
- Occupational therapy to reduce stress on your body
- Alternative therapies, like acupuncture and massage therapy
Correct Your Diet
It is also important to make sure your diet aids in the recovery process by providing the nutrients your body needs to function properly. If you have already been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, make sure you eat a balanced diet to help prevent the symptoms from worsening. You should also:
- Stay hydrated.
- Reduce your sugar consumption.
- Increase the greens in your diet.
- Increase the number of whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy in your diet.
- Keep track of any food or substances that worsen your symptoms.
Remember to Include Self Care in Your Daily Regimen
No matter the health issue or bodily problem, you should always ensure that your lifestyle accommodates your condition. Improve daily bodily function with healthy lifestyle changes:
- Maintain a Consistent Sleep Cycle: Your body needs rest in order to keep your physical and mental state functioning well. When your body does not get enough rest or if your rest is too inconsistent, you could suffer from increased stress and mental fatigue. It is also important to avoid unhealthy habits that could affect your sleep cycle such as too much caffeine, using electronics in bed, or smoking. Give your body enough time to repair itself and keep it consistent, so it can get into a comfortable rhythm.
- Exercise: Like with most chronic pain issues, it is best to ensure your body remains functioning optimally to prevent worsening symptoms. Exercise keeps your muscles limber and flexible while also helping several bodily systems work their best. Make sure you exercise consistently with a routine that feels right to you.
- Relax: Meditation, yoga, and some deep breathing can be key to de-stressing and keeping your body from tensing up and worsening your symptoms.
It is important to take fibromyalgia seriously and take the proper steps to prevent its symptoms from worsening. If they worsen, you could experience increased pain, fatigue, and several other issues daily. Address your issues immediately, and if diagnosed with fibromyalgia, be aggressive in pursuing the right treatment for you.
Fibromyalgia Treatment Plan
There is no particular order for the development of fibromyalgia; it is a dynamic condition that changes from person to person. You may suffer from some symptoms earlier or later than they would expect. The only thing you can do is figure out a treatment plan that is equally unique to you. Although, your treatment plans usually should include steps like:
- Daily Function Optimization: Where your daily routine is ironed out, and the best possible road to recovery is laid out for you to follow.
- Psychological Treatment: You need to take care of your mental health, since chronic issues typically lead to mental fatigue and severe depression.
- Pharmacological Treatment: Medicine is often prescribed to relieve pain and fight symptoms.
- Non-Pharmacological Treatments: Physical therapy, occupational therapy, alternative therapies, and more staple ways to treat pain.
Call Garden State Pain & Orthopedics for more information on fibromyalgia, or book a consultation online today.