Fibromyalgia is a syndrome not widely known by most people. It has been considered to be a neurological and psychiatrically influenced condition or simply a disease affecting the muscles and nerves. The term “fibromyalgia” is derived from from the Latin and Greek languages meaning fibrous tissue and muscle pain. This disease is also known by two other names: fibromyositis and fibrositis syndromes. Because inflammation wasn’t present the “itis” suffix was dropped and the word fibromyalgia is now being used to describe several related disorders such as generalized, primary, secondary, and localized pain syndromes.
This condition occurs 7 times more in women than in men. The pain is wide spread coupled with stiffness over the whole body.
This most common form of fibromyalgia attacks young and middle age women who do not have any other underlying disorder associated with or contributing to the pain.
Secondary fibromyalgia, on the other hand, refers to a person who has another fundamental disorder that is causing the fibromyalgia symptoms, such as hypothyroidism.
Men tend to experience this type a little more than the others because they are more likely to participate in muscular activities such as sports or occupational situations. This type is characterized by pain and stiffness located in certain areas such as the neck, jaw or muscles in the shoulders. Sometimes it can be located in the muscles of the face, thereby making the chewing muscles on the side of the face painful and tender.
CAUSES OF FIBROMYALGIA
There are many causes that are generalized and really almost unknown. Physical or mental stress, sleeplessness, fatigue, injuries, repetitive strains, or exposure to cold and dampness are some known causes. Other conditions such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis may also increase the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Having complications of certain infections like hypothyroidism or Lyme disease could also initiate an attack.
Genetic predisposition is generally thought of as another cause when there are family histories showing fibromyalgia occurrences. Major depression and physical trauma are also listed as potential causes of fibromyalgia.
SYMPTOMS OF FIBROMYALGIA
A generalized stiffness and pain develop and gradually become more localized except with a muscle strain which usually brings on a very sudden and sharp pain. Straining, overuse, and overall fatigue only worsen the pain. Certain areas called tender or trigger points become sensitive to pressure applied by the fingertips. Sometimes the pain radiates to a different site. Tightness in the muscles and even spasms happen during flare-ups which affect tendons, muscles and ligaments in the neck, chest, shoulders, thighs, lower back, as well as the joints. Feeling alone and miserable, a lot of people are in such pain that they don’t want to do anything.
Along with the widespread pain, other symptoms can manifest themselves in other ways. Irritable bowel syndrome and hypothyroidism (low thyroid activity) are a few that are linked with fibromyalgia and come and go varying in intensity. Memory and cognitive problems, fatigue, irritable bladder, restless leg syndrome, pelvic pain, lack of sleep, being sensitive to noise or temperature due to weather changes, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), and even skin color can changes can be signs indicating the onset of fibromyalgia. The combination of all these symptoms really makes it difficult for physicians to be able to diagnose this condition accurately.
TREATMENT OF FIBROMYALGIA
While there really is no cure for this disease, there are various ways to either cope with or find some relief for fibromyalgia. The use of pain relieving drugs prescribed by a doctor or over the counter aids have been tied with some success in a lot of patients. Because everyone is so different, what might work for you won’t work for another. Pain management, however, should be a priority at any given time.
Staying active is key to helping manage pain. A regular schedule for mild to moderate exercise not only brings some relief but encourages the victim and promotes a sense of wellbeing so desperately needed at times. One way is by riding a recumbent exercise bike that not only relieves the back but helps gently stretch the soft tissues in and around the knees.
Another remedy is a nice hot bath. Even a gentle massage would help. Counseling and support groups are also ways to improve one’s life. Talk with your doctor and see other options to help cope with fibromyalgia. Sometimes doing something enjoyable will help get your mind of the pain. Walking with friends, playing board games or phone conversations could also have positive results.
Fibromyalgia is a very real and not imaginary condition and should be treated as such. Taking care of yourself will always be the ticket to good health regardless of the situation. Research is still in progress on this matter and who knows? A cure might be found tomorrow.