Fibromyalgia: What You Need to Know
By Jazmin Stearne
Fibromyalgia is a chronic health condition, affecting more than 4 million Americans. You may have heard of it, as it has received quite a lot of attention in recent years. Along with chronic fatigue syndrome, Fibromyalgia was once considered to be a medical mystery. Few researchers understood the condition. However, since it is so common, medical professionals consider it now to be a debilitating disease. Even to this day, fibromyalgia is difficult for doctors to understand. Currently, fibromyalgia does not show up on a blood test and is considered to be an “invisible condition”, causing chronic widespread pain in its victims. This post is meant to educate others who may not know about the condition.
Fibromyalgia pain is located on different points in the body. These points are called “pressure points” and are usually painful to the touch. A fibromyalgia flare up is described as being similar, but worse, than having the flu. Sufferers normally describe the pain from fibro as constant and dull. Other fibromyalgia symptoms include:
• Chronic, debilitating fatigue that doesn’t go away
• Insomnia/trouble sleeping or nonrestorative sleep
• Dry eyes
• Bladder pain, or interstitial cystitis
• IBS or digestion issues
• Painful periods in women
• Mental health symptoms such as depression and anxiety
Brain fog is another symptom of fibromyalgia. It is commonly known as “Fibro fog”. Fibro fog can leave the sufferer forgetful and can make it hard to concentrate or focus on tasks that were once easy to accomplish. This can leave ones’ mind feeling “foggy” and can make it hard to stay alert and focused. A study was conducted on fibromyalgia back in 2015. In this study, participants claimed that fibro fog can oftentimes be more upsetting than the constant body aches.
People are usually diagnosed with fibromyalgia if they experience widespread pain and tenderness in at least 11 of 18 trigger points in the body. Here are some common places a person with fibromyalgia may feel pain:
• Back of the head
• Tops of the shoulders
• Upper chest region
A doctor may diagnose a person with fibromyalgia if the above areas are affected. Usually the doctor will feel these pressure points to determine the severity of pain. After a thorough examination is performed, there must be no other underlying conditions that can cause the pain. In other words, a diagnosis of fibromyalgia is made if there is no other explanation for the symptoms. Things that can trigger a flare-up include stress and changes in the weather (barometric pressure).
What Fibromyalgia feels like
As mentioned previously, fibromyalgia can leave a person feeling like he or she is walking around with the flu. To even begin to know what fibro feels like, think back to your worst bout with influenza. Feeling like this can leave the sufferer feeling exhausted, anxious, and unable to carry out normal daily activities.
Connection with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Some researchers claim that fibromyalgia may be related to another condition with unknown causes, chronic fatigue syndrome. Chronic fatigue syndrome causes extreme tiredness, without a known cause. Fibromyalgia causes extreme pain without a cause. Some scientist believe there is a link. Interestingly, there are some researchers who think these two disorders are not separate at all; but are the same disease. Regardless of the cause, more research is needed to determine if this is actually true. Both chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia have unknown causes.
What causes Fibromyalgia?
As stated above, researchers don’t know what causes fibro. Some theories include infectious diseases such as the flu, genes, and trauma as possible causes.
Common treatments for fibromyalgia include medications, self-care strategies, and lifestyle changes. Medications prescribed for fibromyalgia include antidepressants and antiseizure drugs such as Lyrica or Gabapentin. Self-care strategies include hot showers or baths and acupuncture. Lifestyle changes include light exercise such as tai chi or stress reduction techniques.
Living with Fibromyalgia
Currently, there is no cure for fibromyalgia. Medical researchers are still unable to find the likely cause. Treatments include a combination of lifestyle changes, medications, and stress reduction techniques. This condition is serious, and I feel that it deserves more attention. When left untreated, fibromyalgia can worsen and can lead to disability as well as depression. If you are suffering from depression as a result of chronic pain, call our office today at 707-387-8479.
Cherney, K. (2020, June 29). Everything You Need to Know About Fibromyalgia – Healthline. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/fibromyalgia.