Is Fibromyalgia Caused by Trauma?
Evidence has shown severe physical or emotional trauma as a precursor or trigger in patients who suffer from the elusive condition of fibromyalgia. Specifically, childhood trauma or abuse can be a huge factor in the development of fibromyalgia in patients as well. However, the physical trauma may not always stem from an abusive event in their life. It can also be due to an accident that damages or alters their physical body in some way.
Physical Trauma and “Typical Patient History”
More often than not, patients with fibromyalgia that developed after a trauma will normally have a “typical history.” The patient commonly reports severe, chronic pain as the worst symptom with the pain commonly in the neck, shoulders and back areas. Usually, the patient was in normal health before a physical trauma took place. Specific examples of such a physically traumatic event include, but are not limited to:
- Motor vehicle accident
- Work injury
- Sports injury
- Recreational injury
- Head injury
Shortly following a trauma, the patient develops pain that simply continues with no relief. Moreover, the patient may attain supporting health records that might include a visit to the emergency room, x-rays and evaluations, medications, and other medical treatments. Some or all of these treatments may help, but the pain never disappears and continues to be described as severe.
Most Common Physical Trauma
Furthermore, out of all of the post-traumatic patients involved in a motor vehicle accident, whiplash is the most common type of trauma. Interestingly, post-traumatic patients are thirteen times more likely to develop fibromyalgia following a neck injury over a leg injury. Even so, a lot of patients commonly begin to experience the pain in the specific region of their body where the physical trauma originally took place. Nevertheless, the patients are left to deal with the emotional and psychological aftermath that may lead to depression, which further increases the risk of the patients experiencing the reoccurring and debilitating symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Post-Traumatic Fibromyalgia and Depression
Understandably, if physical, sexual, or emotional abuse is the root trigger of a post-traumatic fibromyalgia patient, one might see how the patient might also experience depression. Not to mention, fibromyalgia can be a devastating, lonely disease. Due to the severity of the symptoms, patients find it difficult to resume their previous lifestyle and it affects the quality of their life. Moreover, the lack of general understanding and research of the condition within the medical community can lead to a great sense of frustration, which, in turn, can contribute to the occurrence of depression for the patient. As if dealing with post-traumatic fibromyalgia symptoms is not enough, depression alone can be a debilitating and overwhelming state of sadness. It makes it much more difficult for the patient to begin, and maintain, the proper lifestyle changes that may be crucial to the treatment of their crushing fibromyalgia symptoms. Therefore, it is very important for fibromyalgia patients to know the symptoms of depression and to alert their doctor to any changes that they might be experiencing. The symptoms of depression can range from mild to severe, but commonly include the following:
- Loss of interest and pleasure in all activities
- Weight loss
- Weight gain
- Decreased or low energy
- Persistent sad or anxious mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, or irritability
- A sense of worthlessness
- Uncontrollable tearfulness
- Thoughts about death
- Thoughts about suicide
Major depression, the name for the clinical form of depression, can be diagnosed if you feel very depressed for more than two weeks. Most major depressions last between six and twelve months. Physicians who treat post-traumatic fibromyalgia patients often prescribe antidepressants and or recommend fibromyalgia support groups. In order for treatment to be successful, to it is important for patients not to feel alone in the process.
Post-Traumatic Patients and Prognosis
Unfortunately, there is still no cure for patients who suffer with post-traumatic fibromyalgia. However, various treatments can help, such as:
- Physical therapy
- An exercise program
- Stress-relief methods, such as, acupuncture, massage, and yoga
Nonetheless, each patient’s treatment program needs to be individualized, and what works for some may not work for others. However, no matter what the treatment plan, the ultimate goal is for the patient to experience an overall lessening of symptoms.