Fibromyalgia: A Physical and Emotional Battle
When it comes to fibromyalgia, everyone is quick to address the debilitating and physical facet of the disease. After all, if the disease is left untreated or unchecked for long periods of time, then it might end up crippling or cause permanent damage, adding more stress to an already-taxing condition.
However, despite what most individuals may believe, there is an entirely-emotional aspect to fibromyalgia, one that can magnify the physical symptoms of the disease, and that must be addressed just as well as the other “tangible” symptoms.
Despite our growing understanding of uncommon diseases such as fibromyalgia, there is still a lot that we don’t understand. As a matter of fact, it was only until recently that fibromyalgia was considered a neurological disorder; it was treated purely as a somatic disease in the past, caused purely by psychological imbalances within the patient. Today, we understand that, despite there being a large psychological aspect to the disease, its main symptoms are caused by a chemical imbalance in the patient’s nervous system, which can lead to hyperalgesia, allodynia, and overbearing sensations of fatigue and exhaustion even after a good night’s sleep.
As a disease, fibromyalgia is characterized by chronic pain spread across several points of the person’s body, which are commonly referred to as ‘tender points’ by the medical community. Despite there being generalized feelings of pain throughout the entire body, it is at these points where the majority of the discomfort and pain will concentrate. These tender points vary from case to case, making each manifestation of fibromyalgia essentially unique. Aside from the tender points and the aforementioned feelings of fatigue, fibromyalgia may also cause other symptoms, such as memory problems (or difficulty to register new memories), bladder problems, and sensitivity to light and loud noises, all of which can negatively affect the person’s sleep schedule, further adding to their fatigue. It is worth noting that this disease is more common on those who have suffered (or are suffering from) from any type of anxiety disorders or depression. Furthermore, they frequently manifest alongside rheumatoid conditions such as arthritis.
Nevertheless, in stark contrast to our understanding of the effects of fibromyalgia on the body, its origins still remain a mystery to us. As of today, the most widely accepted theory is that it is caused by a combination of both environmental and genetic factors, and could be triggered by an emotional event, or by the presence of other physical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis mentioned above. It is known today that the condition may be hereditary and involves many genes in order to manifest. Luckily, the disease has been recognized as such by the American College of Rheumatology, which makes it a valid subject for research for important groups, instead of the niche disease being investigated by fringe groups like it once was. Regardless, the diagnosis of fibromyalgia still revolves around ruling out other potential causes of the person’s symptoms, before jumping to fibromyalgia as a probable cause.