Fibromyalgia is a musculoskeletal disorder exhibiting widespread pain throughout the whole body. This was a disease once thought of as a psychiatric malady and later proved it was not “all in your head” but a real disorder. Millions of people worldwide suffer from fibromyalgia and unfortunately it is not fully understood. More women are afflicted with fibromyalgia than men and although there are no age limits, the majority of sufferers are between the ages of 20 to 55. Fibromyalgia has always been a complex condition as it sometimes gets confused with other ailments which often results in mistaken diagnoses.
The term “fibromyalgia” actually means pain in the muscles and fibrous tissue. The joints are affected a lot because of the connective fibrous tissues of the ligaments which hold the bones of the joint together along with the tendons that attach the muscles to the bones. Besides the fibrous tissues, the muscles are also painful to the touch. Generally, people with fibromyalgia ache all over.
CHARACTERISTICS OF FIBROMYALGIA
Widespread body pain is the overall symptom of fibromyalgia. The pain could be just an ache which might be tolerable or a full blown severely debilitating pain that robs you of a “good quality of life day”. The pain may be widespread or localized in certain areas which are known as trigger points. Located on both sides of the body, these points come in pairs and have been identified as one of the main characteristics of fibromyalgia. These areas are very sensitive to touch and usually increase in pain when pressure is applied by the fingertips. The pain then seems to radiate to another area from the original site when pressed down on. Sometimes the pain brings about stiffness and difficulty in moving around. Life with fibromyalgia can become quite challenging.
Other symptoms include trouble sleeping. Many people have problems getting to sleep because they can’t find a way to be comfortable. Lying down may be very painful as well as sitting up. This usually leads up to the vicious cycle of chronic fatigue and insomnia issues. All of this can really wear a person down.
Many people experience cognitive dysfunction, known as fibro-fog. This is the inability to think properly in decision making, multitasking, long and short term memory and speed of performance. Besides having impaired concentration, their attention span gets shortened and opens the door for anxiety and depression.
To make matters worse, sufferers of fibromyalgia also undergo gastrointestinal and bladder problems, tingling of the skin, weakness in the limbs, various nerve pains, muscle twitching and muscle spasms that don’t want to quit. Every day chores or activities can prove difficult to do. Even exercise can be limited.
CAUSES OF FIBROMYALGIA
The direct causes of fibromyalgia are still unknown. There are many theories of what might bring on fibromyalgia flare ups. One topic under investigation is the possibility of fibromyalgia being genetically inherited. Some researchers theorize that some people have genes which cause certain stimuli to be perceived as painful when in actuality it’s not painful at all. Like a super sensitivity to touch or feel causing pain that to another person would not feel painful. This higher sensitivity is also thought to be brought on by emotional and or physical stresses, such as a traumatic event or serious illness. Hormonal changes are also suspect in the onset of fibromyalgia. Menopause or other biochemical changes along with lower levels of human growth hormone have also been linked somewhat to the occurrence of the muscle pain tied with fibromyalgia. Diet, the lack of certain vitamins or minerals and many more speculative ideas about what causes fibromyalgia have scientists believe the disease is brought on by a combination of many emotional and physical stressors compared to the idea of one single event.
HOW TO DEAL WITH FIBROMYALGIA
Coping with this condition is not exactly easy. First thing to do is try to relieve the pain. Prescription drugs are useful and do work well depending on how severe the pain is. Be sure to see your doctor before taking any medication.
Another alternative is to keep moving. This might be painful to start out with but in the long run it will pay off. The pain eases up with movement and a routine of light to moderate exercise would not only benefit the body but encourage the spirit. Swimming pool exercises are not hard on the body and prove very therapeutic.
Talking to your doctor and other sufferers of fibromyalgia may give insight to other ways to live with this disease. Engaging with enjoyable activities which would keep your mind off your pain helps too.
With fibromyalgia there is no instant fix. One must keep in mind a positive outlook; there is hope one day a cure might be found.