FYBROMYALGIA – THE CAUSES AND RISKS
Although many people, mostly women, suffer from fybromyalgia medical experts do not agree on the causes behind this condition. Some researchers are investigating the effects of hormonal disturbances and chemical imbalances on nerve signaling. Others believe that fybromyalgia with its deep muscle pain is a result of stress, illness, and trauma. Still others speculate that lower levels of a neurotransmitter, serotonin, lead to a lowered pain threshold or a higher sensitivity to pain. There have been some studies that link fybromyalgia to sudden trauma or illness. Some say there is a hereditary cause or no cause at all. Keep in mind that all these theories are just that; theories. There is no convincing evidence yet that any of these possible theories are what causes fybromyalgia.
WHO GETS FYBROMYALGIA?
According to research, women are more likely to get fybromyalgia than men. Research has revealed that women have seven times less serotonin than men. Serotonin is a chemical that has a calming, anxiety-reducing reaction. This may explain why women are more prone to the condition than men. Of course, hormonal changes in a woman’s body can also be cause for fybromyalgia. Another possible link is that of human growth hormone. Women with fybromyalgia have a lower human growth hormone which may contribute to the muscle pain.
STRESS AND FYBROMYALGIA
Some researchers believe that stress and poor physical condition are factors that may contribute to fybromyalgia. Another theory suggests that muscle microtrauma may be associated with the pain and fatigue from this condition.
SLEEP DISORDERS AND FYBROMYALGIA
Most patients with fybromyalgia experience some type of insomnia or sleep disorder. Many cannot achieve that deep REM sleep but only have light or disturbed sleep. This, in turn, causes lower levels of serotonin, which causes the pain sensitivity. In a study, women experienced sleep deprivation, possibly stimulating fybromyalgia.
DEPRESSION AND FYBROMYALGIA
Because fybromyalgia is often accompanied by a low-level depression, doctors used to think that the two illnesses were linked somehow. However, today, mental illnesses are not thought to be linked to this condition. Be that as it may, many women who have fybromyalgia, experience anxiety and depression because of the chronic pain which, of course, may worsen symptoms. It can be like a vicious cycle.
HEREDITY AND FYBROMYALGIA
Like other rheumatic diseases, some researchers think that fybromyalgia may be a genetically transmitted condition, passed from mother to daughter. They believe that a person’s genes may regulate how that person processes painful stimuli. These scientists suggest that a person may have a gene or genes that cause them to react intensely to stimuli that most people would not find painful. However, as of today, these genes have not been identified or isolated.
It is thought that when a person with this genetic tendency is exposed to certain emotional or physical stressors, there is a change in the body to stress. This change can result in a higher sensitivity to pain for the whole body.
RISK FACTORS AND FYBROMYALGIA
Risk factors are distinct characteristics that scientists have identified that may increase your chances for contracting a certain illness. For fybromyalgia, researchers have identified risk factors that can be associated with the condition. However, many people with fybromyalgia have none of these factors. Also, some women with fybromyalgia have other underlying diseases like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other autoimmune diseases. Of course, there are those with this condition that have no other underlying disease.
Here are some possible risk factors that may lead to fybromyalgia:
v Gender (usually female)
v Genetic disposition (may be inherited)
v Menopause (loss of estrogen)
v Poor physical conditioning
v Trauma to the brain or spinal cord (after an illness, injury, accident, or emotional stress)
FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND FYBROMYALGIA
There is no single theory as to the cause of fybromyalgia. Nor is there a single reason for the flare-ups. Whatever the cause, the unending pain, tender points, and insomnia or sleep disorders are guaranteed to increase the fatigue and depression you feel. Then the vicious cycle of fatigue, depression, and increased pain continues in a downward spiral of increased anxiety, reduced activity, and more pain. The sleep disorders themselves can cause a decrease in the body’s ability to repair damaged tissues. It is important to have a support system in place when your doctor makes the diagnosis for fybromyalgia. Understanding the condition will help your family and friends encourage you and support you in your struggle.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Knowing the causes and risks for fybromyalgia can give help to people suffering from this condition. There are many ways to cope with fybromyalgia. Adopting a healthy lifestyle, keeping a regular sleep pattern, and maintaining a positive outlook can bring relief to the pain, fatigue, and anxiety. Along with a supportive family and friends, these actions can help you achieve optimal health.