Healthy Living

What Is Fibromyalgia?

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Key Takeaways

  • Fibromyalgia is a chronic musculoskeletal condition.
  • Fibromyalgia affects the muscles and joints in an individual's body.
  • There is no cure for fibromyalgia; however, individuals can receive treatment to help reduce symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic musculoskeletal condition that causes stiffness and pain in the joints and muscles. Though a common condition, many cases of fibromyalgia are misdiagnosed and can lead to depression. Fibromyalgia syndrome refers to a group of symptoms that display the presence of a disease or the enhanced risk of a condition. This disease is more commonly seen in women as compared to men.

The most common symptom of fibromyalgia is a dull ache which spreads all over the body. It starts in the muscles and is usually present on both sides of the body. Fibromyalgia is also characterized by the presence of tender points that become painful when pressure is applied.

Tender points include:

  • Back of the head
  • Shoulders
  • Front of the neck
  • Upper chest
  • Outer elbows
  • Upper hips
  • Inner knees
  • Sides of hips

There are 18 different trigger points and 11 of them are very well known. Doctors can test these points for the presence of pain.

However, according to a medical study, the trigger points are not at all focused while treating the fibromyalgia. Doctors can test these points if the person is suffering from fibromyalgia symptoms over a span of three months. The medical test can be carried out if the person has been suffering with symptoms for a longer duration.

People with fibromyalgia have sleeping problems and may experience extreme fatigue even after having a proper night’s rest. Individuals with fibromyalgia often have sleep disorders like restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea, which affects their sleeping routine. In many cases, pain may disrupt sleep in the night.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms

The trigger points are the areas which cause the consistent dull ache affecting many areas of the body. The following symptoms help in understanding more about the disease.

Most people suffering from fibromyalgia have the following symptoms:

  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Sleeplessness
  • Feeling exhausted even after a full night’s sleep
  • Constant but mild headaches
  • Depression
  • Nervousness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Pain in the abdomen

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Esa2EYyRS90" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Other Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Chronic headaches
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Mouth dryness
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Incontinence
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Numbness and tingling in arms and legs
  • Stiffness

Symptoms of this condition are similar to those of osteoarthritis, bursitis, and tendinitis; however, the difference is that fibromyalgia symptoms are more widespread rather than localized.

There is no complete cure for fibromyalgia and most of the treatment options focus on reducing the symptoms of the disease, not curing them. A typical treatment plan for fibromyalgia may include medications, exercises, and behavioral techniques to improve quality of life.

Tricyclic drugs are often recommended for alleviating pain. Antidepressant medications are used to control the depression and sleep disorders caused by fibromyalgia. Alternative therapies, like massage therapy, help to relieve pain from muscles and joints. Aerobic exercise, hypnosis, acupuncture, and therapeutic massages are other options to alleviate the symptoms of this chronic disease. 

Understanding Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a long-term or chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, tenderness in localized areas, and fatigue.

Symptoms of this disease are subjected to change and cannot be determined or tested by medical examination. Due to the varying symptoms, Fibromyalgia cannot be tested and is sometime misdiagnosed as another disease.

What Causes Fibromyalgia?

There are many theories about what causes fibromyalgia. These theories range from stress, hormonal disturbances, and genetics. While there is no clear answer for what causes the condition, most researchers feel that fibromyalgia is the not the result of a single event but rather from a combination of numerous emotional and physical stressors.

Other theories suggest that decreased levels of a brain neurotransmitter, known as serotonin, leads to an increased sensitivity to pain or decreased pain thresholds.

Factors related to fibromyalgia are:

  • Infections

An earlier illness or weakness may cause fibromyalgia or worsen the condition.

  • Genetics

Fibromyalgia can often run in families. Frequently, patients suffering from fibromyalgia have a family history of the condition.

  • Trauma

Numerous individuals living with fibromyalgia can trace their condition back to a traumatic event. Fully understanding the link between trauma and fibromyalgia may assist in relieving the symptoms.

  • Stress: 

There are several studies that suggest a link between stress and fibromyalgia. However, the nature of this link is not yet understood. Some experts theorize that fibromyalgia is not a disease but rather a chronic pain condition brought about by a number of abnormal physical responses to stress.

Is There a Cure for Fibromyalgia?

Currently, there is no particular treatment or cure for fibromyalgia. Treatment for fibromyalgia consists of reducing the symptoms of the condition, which can help in completely recovering from the disease. Some of the most effective methods of reducing symptoms is to make lifestyle changes and self-care strategies.

There are many like-minded groups and medical therapies available which can help a patient overcome the difficulties of living with fibromyalgia. These services are useful in connecting with people suffering with the same condition. By opening up to others with the same condition, patients can potentially construct a support system to help cope with their disease.

There are many resources available that can help guide individuals in the right direction.

Lifestyle Changes

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease which causes mild to severe pain, weakness, and sleeplessness. The disease may also cause instability in the mind and unwanted depression. The treatment is focused more on changing the lifestyle and the attitude of the person than having any serious treatment.

The following are some lifestyle changes that can help patients living with fibromyalgia.

Exercise

An active and healthy lifestyle may assist in decreasing the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Studies suggest that some of the activities that are most likely to help are strength training and light aerobic training (like water exercise or walking).

Consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

Sleep

If you find that you struggle with getting a good night’s sleep, you are not alone. Luckily, there are a lot of methods you can try to help obtain proper sleep. Some of these methods include:

  • Sticking to a sleep schedule: Set a specific sleep schedule and stick to it.
  • Keep your bedroom temperature cool: It has been proven that better sleep is achieved in a room that is cooler in temperature.
  • Cut out caffeine in the evening: Caffeine keeps you awake; thus, it should be avoided well before bedtime.
  • Exercise in the afternoon: Exercising in the afternoon could help you obtain a more restful sleep at night.
  • Create a relaxing routine for bedtime: Reading can help you fall asleep, meditation, or listening to soft music can help you fall asleep. If you create a relaxing routine before bed, ensure that you perform this routine every night.