by Dr. O
Fibromyalgia, as the name implies, describes pain(algia) in the muscle. It is often accompanied by insomnia, fatigue, and enhanced sensitivity to pain.
Approximately in about 10 million Americans,(2-4%) have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, with afrequency of about 8 women to 2 men. However, It occurs in people of all ages, including children.
Scientists discovered that fibromyalgia changes the sensitivity of the brain to pain, it enhances the response of the brain to pain, making us feel less painful stimuli as severe painful stimuli.
Fibromyalgia is more common in women, and thanks to lady gaga for making the awareness of this condition.
It is frequently related to other conditions such as a tension headache, irritable bowel syndrome, problems with the temporomandibular joint, fatigue, muscle stiffness, cognitive problems and other conditions related to pain.. it is a chronic condition that causes generalized body pain. It can be characterized by persistent long-standing pain that occurs over an extended period.
Causes of Fibromyalgia
Genetics: A mutation is some specific genes can predispose an individual to have fibromyalgia, it has been discovered that some of the patients with fibromyalgia have a mutation in one of their genes. People with previous family history or relatives with fibromyalgia, have an increased risk of having fibromyalgia.
Hormonal imbalance: Fluctuation and alteration in pain regulating hormones can lead to fibromyalgia, it can also be caused by the impaired response of the hypothalamus to this pain regulating hormones.
Emotional trauma: Emotional injuries such as losing a loved one, having problems in a relationship, or breaking up with a loved one or fiancée.
Don’t break people’s heart; you could be the cause of their fibromyalgia. Psychological stress, excessive mental exertion or overthinking can also predispose an individual to have fibromyalgia.
Delivery of a baby: Post delivery fibromyalgia is a common etiology of fibromyalgia in women, due to the stress involved in the stress involved could lead to muscle pain and ache that can linger for days after delivery.
Post-traumatic causes: Some traumatic events such as car accident could trigger and predispose an individual to having fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia due to an infection: some infections can act as a trigger for fibromyalgia, or make an existing fibromyalgia worsen or aggravated.
Previous or existing medical conditions: Some previous or existing medical conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus could predispose an individual to have fibromyalgia.
Lifestyle habits: fibromyalgia is more common in people with unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking, alcohol, stressful life, sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise or physical activity.
Stress and chronic fatigue syndrome is a major predisposing factor to fibromyalgia.we know , we live in era, where everyone has great work ethics and big financial goals, but since stress is a predisposing factor to fibromyalgia, taking some time off, once a while to rest is not a bad idea for the benefit of our body.
Insomnia or sleep deprivation: It has been discovered that insufficient sleep could result in fibromyalgia, our body relaxes and grows when we sleep, when we deprive our body of sleep, we hinder the relaxation process of the body, at this moment leading to muscle pain and ache.
Nonceliac gluten sensitivity: this has been linked to been an etiology of fibromyalgia
Weather changes: some women complained about increased intensity of fibromyalgia pain during a rapid change in weather, especially form hot weather and cold weather.Or during sunny weather temperature.
Types of People Affected
It is more frequent in women than in men; It affectspeopleof any age –range, but more common in people within the age range of 30-50 years
Trigger Points for Fibromyalgia
- Outer elbow
- Posterior part of the head
- Upper or superior part of the chest
- Top of the shoulder
- Superior and lateral parts Hips
- Inside of the Knee
- Anterior neck
Sign and Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
- Generalized and widespread pain: fibromyalgia often present with generalized, bilateral, and generalized pain. This chronic pain(lasting for more than 3 months) occurs on both sides of the body, and both proximal and distal to the
- Chronic fatigue: Fibromyalgia patients often suffer from chronic fatigue that occurs despite sleeping for an extended period. This individual often sleeps a lot, but the sleep is impaired by muscular pain, at this moment leading to various sleep-related conditions like sleep-apnea or restless leg syndrome.
- Impaired cognitive function: This condition is also called the fibro-fog, which is characterized by decrease concentration, attention, and focusing capacity while performing a mental task or cognitive functions.
- Numbness and hypoesthesia of limb There can be numbness and paraesthesia of the limbs in patients with fibromyalgia; it is a common sign in fibromyalgia patients.
- Painful menstrual cramps: This is a common symptom in women suffering from fibromyalgia.
- Joint pain: fibromyalgia patients suffer from joint pains, especially the temporomandibular
- Emotional imbalance: Fibromyalgia patients often suffer from mood dysbalance, such as mood swings, alternation between anxiety and depression. This individual with fibromyalgia often have mood swings due to the pain they feel in their body, and muscle aches.
- A headache: there is often the presence of a tension headache in fibromyalgia patient, this tension headache is due to the muscle ache and pain experienced by fibromyalgia patients.
- Urinary problems: Fibromyalgia patients could suffer from polyuria, urinary incontinence, and dysuria. This individual suffers from irritable or overactive bladder
- Allodynia: This is a condition in which there is increase response to pain or real pressure, this is a common symptom of fibromyalgia.
- Muscle spasm and twitching: patients with fibromyalgia can express frequent palpitation, spasm, and twitching of various muscles of the body. This is a common symptom in fibromyalgia patients.
- Systemic symptoms: there could be the presence of various systemic symptoms such as weight gain, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and feeling of cold.
Is Fibromyalgia Pain Real or is Chronic Pain all in Your Head?
Fibromyalgia pain and chronic pain is real, but how you perceive and respond to it is within your brain, the way you perceive and respond to the brain depends on pain receptors around the organ affected, the brain only interprets this pain and expresses it through your emotion. Yes, the pain is real.
Difference Between Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The primary difference between fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue symptoms is the leading presentation of this disease. The main symptom of fibromyalgia is a pain, while the prominent symptom is chronic fatigue syndrome is fatigue that does not improve with rest.
How Does Fibromyalgia Affect Pregnancy?
The effect of fibromyalgia on pregnancy varies among people. It doesn’t cause any additional symptoms in some pregnant women, while it can heighten symptoms such as pain, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue in some pregnant women.
What are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia in Women?
- Intense pain: The pain in women suffering from fibromyalgia is intense and worse than in men suffering from fibromyalgia
- Worsened menstruation: Fibromyalgia increases menstrual pain in women, and it is worse in postmenopausal women due to decreased production of estrogen, which helps in maintaining hormone controlling hormones such as serotonin. Postmenopausal women often experience an increase or heightened crankiness, pain, anxiety and
- Heightened pain in the trigger and tender points: Women are suffering from fibromyalgia often suffer from increased pain in tender or trigger points of the body. This high pain in tender points in women have been linked to hormonal changes in women.
- Increased urinary and gastrointestinal pain: fibromyalgia complicates urinary, digestive, and reproductive system in women, by leading to the following signs:
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pain during urination
- Heightened cramps in the lower abdomen
- Chronic fatigue and depression: fibromyalgia often worsens the symptoms of fatigue and depression in women when likened to men, This is due to the hormones present in women and absent in men
Visit your doctor immediately, when you have any of this symptoms, or pain that affects your well-being or normal day-day activities.
Is Fibromyalgia an Autoimmune Disease?
Fibromyalgia is not classified as an auto-immune disease; it only has symptoms that resemble some auto-immune diseases which include: rheumatoid arthritis of the joint, and systemic lupus erythematosus. It is often misclassified as an auto-immune disease based on its system presentation, however, based on pathogenesis, it is not an autoimmune disease, which is caused by the body,s immune system attacking the body.
What is Connection of Fibromyalgia and Inflammation of the Brain?
It has been discovered that neuro-inflammation(inflammation of the brain)enhances pain signals in the brain through a method called central sensitization, which is responsible for the enhanced pain stimuli experienced by fibromyalgia patients. This also occurs due to the increased release of hormones by the brain during injury or inflammation.
Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia
Previously, fibromyalgia is diagnosed by the presence of generalized, bilateral, and widespread pain for a minimum of 3 months, later the presence of pains in the trigger point was used, now there are new guidelines which include:
- Widespread pain for more than 3 months in all the 4 quadrants of the body, proximal and distal to the waistline.
- Presence of pain in the tender points by using the widespread pain index score which ranges from 0-19, which 1 point for pain in each tender point.
Other diagnosis method includes:
- Blood test: A blood test is carried out to determine the erythrocyte level, the presence of a rheumatic factor, erythrocyte sedimentation rate. Other blood tests done include thyroid function test and citrullinated peptide test
- System severity scale: this method involves the measurement of 3 symptoms that occurred in the patient in the last 1 These symptoms include fatigue, feeling tired despite sufficient sleep, cognitive it thinking problems. The scale ranges from 0-3.
0 (mild): this indicates absence of any of the symptoms
1(mild0: it Indicates the presence of unstable symptoms, these symptoms come and go, they are not consistent or persistent
2(moderate): This indicates presence of symptoms that do not affect day-day activities
3(severe): This shows the presence of symptoms that already begins to affect the day-day operations of the individual
Diseases That Mimic Fibromyalgia and Cause Pain, Muscle Aches, and Fatigue
- Rheumatoid arthritis: It is an autoimmune disease affecting joint that causes swelling and pain
- Osteoarthritis: it is a form of arthritis caused and wear and tear on muscles and joints
- Systemic lupus erythematosus: it is an auto-immune disease
- Ankylosis spondylarthritis: it is a kind of condition that affects the spine, and it can mimic pains of fibromyalgia in the spine
- Polyarthralgia rhematica: This is a type of disease that is characterized by widespread generalized pain coupled with the rapid stiffness of the body.
- Hypothyroidism: This is a condition that is caused by reduced thyroid
Treatment of Fibromyalgia
- Drug therapy: Different types of drugs can be used in treating fibromyalgia, such drugs include antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and opioids to relieve the pain.
- Cognitive behavior therapy: This is a nonpharmacological treatment of fibromyalgia, that involves the use of exercise, and psycho-education to help patients live with and manage the pain better.
- Mind-body therapy. This includes a process that tries to eliminate the pain from the mind.
- Exercise: Exercise has been known to improve mood, fitness, and realize of various hormones such as serotonin and endorphins. These hormones help n promoting relaxation and sleep which alleviates the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
- Occupational therapy: this involves various therapy that helps individuals with fibromyalgia in coping with their job and day-day activities.
Can Yoga and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Benefit People with Fibromyalgia?
Cognitive behavior therapy helps the individuals suffering from fibromyalgia to cope with their everyday task or job. It helps them to perform their day-day work correctly.
Yoga helps in alleviating fibromyalgia symptoms because it contains various meditation and breathing exercises, which contributes to relaxation of the mind, control stress, relax and sleep more. Remove stress and you have eliminated insomnia.
If you are a woman, and you love your health, you should apply this knowledge you learned about fibromyalgia, if you have any pain in those trigger point lasting for more than 3 months, with any of the accompanying symptoms, don’t try to self-medicate. Contact the nearest doctor or rheumatologist near you. Help lady GAGA achieves her dream of eliminating this disease.