Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes chronic muscle pain and fatigue. People with fibromyalgia have “tender points” in the body that are actually used to diagnose the condition. There are 18 tender points located throughout the body. Tender point locations include: back of the head, between shoulder blades, top of shoulders, and front of neck, upper chest, elbows, hips, and inner knees. With fibromyalgia, pain must occur on both sides of the body, as well as, above and below the waist. These points are extremely sensitive and hurt when pressure is applied to that area. This condition does not discriminate and can be found in both genders and at any age, though most common in women between the ages of 35-50. Women are three times more likely to have fibromyalgia than men. Often misdiagnosed, there is a lot of stigma and questions associated with fibromyalgia. There is now known cure for this condition.
The most common symptom associated with this condition is the widespread musculoskeletal pain. Pain may vary from person to person, but usually is an intense pulsing or ache, similar to the feelings of a sprain or pulled muscle. On rare occasions, people have reported shooting or stabbing pains. Second in line of pesky problems is fatigue and sleep disturbances. Often times, people with fibromyalgia will wake feeling tired, even though they slept an entire night. Sleep is usually disrupted frequently through the night due to pain and discomfort. Other sleep disorders are common with fibromyalgia sufferers, such as restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, and insomnia. Other symptoms that may accompany your pain are anxiety, depression, painful periods, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and endometriosis.
Options for alleviating your discomfort cover a wide range of options. Medication, herbal remedies, life style changes, and alternative therapies are available.
If you are looking for an easy “take a pill a day” treatment option, then the use of medication is the best way to go. Both over the counter and prescription strength options are available. These medicines have been shown to not only alleviate muscular pains, but improve sleep too. First is the use of Analgesics (Tylenol is the most common) which may ease pain and muscle stiffness associated with fibromyalgia. Advil, Motrin and Aleve are also found in this category for their anti-inflammatory properties. Analgesics can be taken in conjunction with other medications. On the prescription side, doctors may utilize anti-depressants or anti-seizure drugs. These have long been used to eliminate pain and fatigue associated with this condition. Additionally, anti-depressants may also be helpful in balancing feelings of depression and anxiety that are often present.
These options are usually easily accessible and don’t require a prescription from your attending physician. First, is the ancient Chinese medical practice of acupuncture. This practice is to restore the normal balance of life forces by inserting very fine needles through the skin to various depths. According to Western theories of acupuncture, the needles cause changes in blood flow and levels of neurotransmitters in the brain and spinal cord. Next, massage therapy is one of the oldest health practices still being utilized. Massage involves the manipulation of muscles and soft tissue to alleviate tension and stress in the body. A massage can bring about a sedative-like effect, lowering your heart rate, relaxing muscles and produce natural painkillers within the body. Additionally, massage can work to improve muscle use and overall range of motion. Lastly, yoga and tai chi combine slow, fluid movements, meditation, relaxation breathing to calm and soothe away stress and pain from the body.
Making a few lifestyle changes can produce drastic improvements in current levels of discomfort. Reduce your stress levels, maintain a well-balanced diet, get regular exercise, sleep plenty of rest and just try not to “overdo it” are the easiest self-directed strategies for finding relief. When your body is already warn down and tired, packing your schedule from morning to night will only intensify your symptoms. Be sure to take good care of your body and it will take good care of you. Finding an exercise program that not only promotes general health benefits, but also incorporates stress reduction would be a great way to limit scheduling and “kill two birds with one stone.”