Fibromyalgia is not imaginary as some medical professionals once thought. It is very real and it affects millions of people worldwide. It occurs more in women than in men. Maybe that’s because women tend to worry or have anxiety more often and show more emotional response to various stimuli known to perhaps generate a flare up of fibromyalgia. Age also doesn’t matter because studies show from as early as 18 months to as late as the 90’s, fibromyalgia is encountered. Causes of fibromyalgia are speculative because there are so many factors responsible for starting the pain or flare-up that to pin-point the exact cause would be improbable. This condition is still very much unknown and the research continues in the hopes of finding not only the direct cause but also the cure for it.
The characteristics of fibromyalgia are predominated by the chronic severe pain located in the fibrous connective tissues of the joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons and occasionally the bones. The pain ranges from being mild to rather severe and could incapacitate a person in time. Because pain is a general symptom of so many other syndromes or diseases, fibromyalgia is often confused with other ailments, thus making fibromyalgia a complicated and misunderstood malady.
One very helpful way of diagnosing fibromyalgia has been recognized by physicians. The method of eliminating other diseases through tests lead to the discovery of certain painful points on both sides of the body. These areas are called trigger or pressure points. When the trigger point is pressed down on, the highly sensitive nerve endings produce severe pain which then tend to radiate to another part of the body, for example; down the arm from the elbow. These trigger points are found in pairs in and around the neck area, elbows, knees, hips, shoulders and lower back.
Of course, pain is only the primary symptom. Other fibromyalgia symptoms include the inability to get quality sleep or stay asleep, fatigue, acute sensitivity to pain when touched, nausea, irritable bowel and bladder syndromes, lethargy, depression, anxiety, emotional and cognitive problems in thinking or memory. Patients with fibromyalgia seek ways to alleviate these symptoms and in the quest sometimes get a little discouraged. How would you feel if you had pain 24/7?
WHY SO MUCH PAIN?
Because the pain is generally focused on the joints, arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis used to be diagnosed first but with fibromyalgia there isn’t any inflammation or disfigurement of the joints, and so those two ailments were crossed off the list as possible causes. With further research fibromyalgia now is classified as a neurological as well as a musculoskeletal disorder.
Recently, scientists have determined a connection between the brain, spinal cord and the pain control system in the skin. Flu-like fibromyalgia symptoms manifest themselves when these systems get
overloaded and when they get coupled with immune cells contributing to the pain. This is what makes you achy all over. The spinal cord acts like a pain filter but when too many signals get sent to the brain from the nerve endings of the skin the result is an overstimulated area that is sensitive and painful. This process is still under investigation and not completely understood yet.
WAYS TO COPE WITH THE PAIN
Getting rid of the pain sometimes is not possible so coping or managing the pain then takes on a new meaning. Some ways work and by trying them one by one you will find out which one will work for you.
Stress is the number one factor that causes a lot of pain. Tension or migraine headaches, backaches, to list a few, are all related to stress. Well, fibromyalgia is linked to it to. Learning to de-stress can play a major role in easing the pain of fibromyalgia. Several ways to start a de-stressed regimen is to incorporate meditation, aromatherapy, and light exercise.
Relaxing baths or hot tub whirlpool therapies are very beneficial also. Besides relieving the pain the sense of wellbeing is a plus and encourages the person’s lifestyle. Activity should be enjoyable instead of being dreaded. Making time for you through hobbies, quality family time or enjoyable events shared by other people can be therapeutic too.
Many sufferers make their work life easier by working at home or coming up with a plan with your boss for you to become more productive. Good communication is necessary to find the best way to work stress free.
Talking with fellow patients of fibromyalgia can be a wealth of information. There are support groups on just about anything now a days and it might surprise you with all the ideas out there for pain relief.
Another great idea is to start a fibromyalgia journal. Writing down what you do each day, the foods you eat and the activities or events attended and how you felt afterward can help pinpoint the possible sources of discomfort or relaxation.
All these are great ways to cope with fibromyalgia pain. Find out which one helps you and keep in mind that you are not alone. A positive mind will help your body feel good.