Fibromyalgia: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Fibromyalgia: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Known to cause mental distress and bodily pain, Fibromyalgia is a common and lingering condition.
It is easy to confuse fibromyalgia symptoms with those of joint inflammation or arthritis. The good news is that unlike arthritis, Fibromyalgia does not cause muscle or joint damage or inflammation. It is considered to be a form of the rheumatic condition, which simply means a condition that causes myofascial pain or soft tissue pain.
About 5 million adults (18 years and above) in the US are experiencing Fibromyalgia, and about 85% of this number are women. This report came from the NIAMS (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases).
Fibromyalgia Facts And Statistics:
Below is a summarized form of important facts and statistics about Fibromyalgia. More information about some of the facts and statistics of the condition will be found below in this article:
- Fibromyalgia symptoms are similar to arthritis symptoms
- Fibromyalgia causes widespread pain, fatigue, and other forms of discomforts
- Fibromyalgia does not affect joints but affects soft tissues
- Fibromyalgia condition causes are unknown, but its risk factors include rheumatoid arthritis, traumatic injury, and other autoimmune disorders like genetic factors and lupus.
- Fibromyalgia does not have a cure, but behavioral therapy, acupuncture, exercise, and medications are designed to help relieve its symptoms as well as improve sleep quality.
Fibromyalgia has a lot of symptoms, where some of the symptoms can be severe or life-threatening if left untreated.
Common Symptoms Include:
- Stiff muscles and joints
- Jaw pain and stiffness
- Widespread pain
- Adjacent fibrous tissue and face muscles Tiredness and pain
- Memory and concentration difficulties
- Cold or heat sensitivity
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
- Feet and hand numbness and tingling
- Painful menstrual periods
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Irregular sleep patterns
It is also possible to get the following symptoms:
- Sleep problems
- Vision problems
- Weight gain
- Urinary and pelvic problems
- Skin problems
- Cold or flu-like symptoms
- Chest symptoms
- Anxiety and depression
- Chest symptoms
- Breathing problems
These symptoms can occur at any stage of a person’s life. However, they are most common to those over the age of 45 years and above.
Fibromyalgia Treatment Options
Research shows that within the first two years, more than 20% of people who have Fibromyalgia try acupuncture as a treatment option. Honestly, this treatment option may work; however, more research is needed.
The moment Fibromyalgia becomes difficult to manage, medical attention may be needed. It is important to note that everyone will experience different sets of symptoms, and hence treatment options may differ.
Drugs or Medical Treatments
Drugs or medical attention may be needed on some specific symptoms. Remember, drug treatments include both OTC (Over-the-counter) pain relievers or prescriptions. However, back in 2016, EULAR (The European League Against Rheumatism) updated its guidelines, recommending against the use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) in treating Fibromyalgia.
Nonetheless, a person may be prescribed anti-seizure drugs like gabapentin or Lyrica. Also, antidepressant drugs like Cymbalta or Duloxetine may be used to reduce pain. However, it has been reviewed that a majority of the patients stop taking these drugs because, with time, they lose their effectiveness in relieving pain or simply due to adverse side effects.
NOTE: It is important to work closely with your doctor when seeking medical attention for the condition. Also, it is important to talk about other medical conditions you may have to avoid serious side effects, interaction with other drugs, or in a worse case, drug poisoning due to mixing different types of drugs.
There are several types of exercise, like strength training, resistance training, or aerobics that have been proven to reduce stiffness, tenderness, pain, and sleep disturbance. Therefore, if exercises are working for you, then you should maintain consistency. Working with a professional trainer or exercise program will improve the effectiveness of relieving symptoms.
It has been proven that over 20% of people suffering from this condition try acupuncture to relieve its symptoms. It has been proven that 1 in every 5 people with Fibromyalgia will try acupuncture within the first 2 years of diagnosis. Some patients have experienced great improvement after starting acupuncture therapy for Fibromyalgia. However, several sessions are needed, which will also depend on a person’s symptoms and severity.
Behavior Modification Therapy
This is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy, designed to help minimize the negativity behavior related to stress and pain increasing and maximizing positive, mindful behavior. This technique involves learning relaxation exercises and coping skills.
Other treatment options include:
- Chiropractic care
- Physical therapy
For a better treatment plan and results, it is important to work closely with a doctor.
The Causes Of Fibromyalgia
The truth is that the exact cause of Fibromyalgia is not clear. However, Rheumatology's current thinking suggests that it is a problem related to the brain’s central pain processing. This thinking suggests that a person may have perception or increased sensitivity of pain to a certain trigger.
Nonetheless, there are a few risk factors or triggers, which include:
- A stressful emotional or traumatic physical event like an automotive accident
- Repetitive injuries like those found in sports
- Problems with the central nervous system (CNS)
- Rheumatoid arthritis or autoimmune diseases like lupus
- The way a person’s genes regulate and process painful stimuli
There is a few research that shows Fibromyalgia may be hereditary. The research shows that females who have a close relative with the condition have a higher risk of experiencing the condition themselves.
Fibromyalgia diagnosis may take time before getting an actual confirmation. That is because its symptoms closely resemble those of other symptoms like hypothyroidism or arthritis. For this reason, a physician will first try to eliminate Fibromyalgia before heading to other conditions. Also, Fibromyalgia does not have a specific test and, as such, contributes to delayed diagnosis confirmation.
According to the American College of Rheumatology, they have come up with three ways for diagnosing Fibromyalgia.
- If there is no presence of another health problem that would explain the symptoms
- Symptoms that have been around for more than 3 months
- Symptoms and pain out of 19 identified body parts over the previous week, including a level of unsatisfactory sleep, fatigue, or cognitive problems
Previous diagnosis of this condition involved ‘tender points.’ However, this form of diagnosis is no longer used or recommended for fibromyalgia diagnosis.
Some research suggests that dietary measures can improve fibromyalgia symptoms. some of the suggested diets include:
- Eat More Nuts and Seeds – Although there is little evidence that shows a direct relationship between nuts and seeds to improving fibromyalgia symptoms. Even so, they contain highly beneficial minerals and micronutrients important for cell function.
- Avoid Gluten Meals – According to a 2014 study, it has been suggested that gluten sensitivity may contribute to your Fibromyalgia. As such, avoiding gluten meals may reduce the pain, even to those with celiac disease. A gluten-free diet is also linked to diet plans for reducing inflammation.
- Low Sugar High-Energy Meals – Foods like tofu, avocado, oatmeal, beans, and almonds have a lot of fiber with no added sugar. Such meals are known to not only maintain energy levels throughout the day but help eliminate tiredness symptoms because of the condition.
- Avoid Taking Excitotoxins and Additives – There is a report that has linked addictive-like monosodium glutamate and aspartame to pain symptoms related to the condition. Therefore, avoiding addictive containing meals can reduce pain significantly.
Overall, it is wise to maintain a well-balanced diet and a healthy weight to maintain overall wellness and life quality. There is a report that shows that people with both obesity and Fibromyalgia receive an improvement of pain symptoms and life quality the moment they observe better eating and health benefits.
Also, remember that research is needed when it comes to diet and Fibromyalgia. This is mainly because everyone will receive different symptoms. Nevertheless, it is wise to ensure each meal has low gluten and sugar from the start. There is no harm trying to these options to support treatment.
What Are Tender Points?
When you research more on Fibromyalgia, you will come across the term ‘tender point’ more often than not.
However, when it comes to Fibromyalgia, tender point simply refers to specific areas of the body where it is said to be more painful. Such areas may include the back of the head, outer elbows, inner knees, the upper chest, outer hips, shoulders, neck, and others.
In the early days, doctors used to diagnose Fibromyalgia based on how a patient will react to pressure at these points. The good news is that this form of diagnosis is no longer used because it is no longer seen to be an accurate way to diagnose Fibromyalgia. Also, tender points are no longer used to indicate this condition.
It is important to note that injections at these points are not advised. Today, fibromyalgia pains are thought to be more widespread, and its presence differs in different people. Rather than a point of pain or specific areas, Fibromyalgia is identified based on its severity or the chronic nature of the pain.
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Remember that there is no specific cure or treatment for Fibromyalgia. However, there are many treatment options and a well-proven way to diagnose the condition. Also, the condition’s symptoms differ greatly between people. Fibromyalgia symptoms can improve greatly as long as a patient follows their treatment options.
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