What is fibromyalgia?
Although there is an awful lot of information available nowadays about fibromyalgia, it is still often misdiagnosed and misunderstood. In fact, it is actually the second most common condition to attack the bones, joints and muscles.
Now, there’s a reason why fibromyalgia is hard to diagnose, and that’s because its staple symptoms are so transferable between other conditions. Unfortunately, there is no official cure as of yet, but experts have found ways to reduce its effects. Those include medication, exercise, stress management, and healthy habits.
This article covers common causes of fibromyalgia, how it is diagnosed and what you can do to treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Currently, healthcare professionals have not been able to pinpoint a specific element that causes it. However, a lot of people seem to believe it is an issue with how your brain and spinal cord receives pain signals from your nerve endings.
With extensive research, we are able to narrow it down to groups that are most likely to contract the condition though. These are:
- Those with other similar conditions such as arthritis
- Those with anxiety or depression
- Those who have been emotionally abused or have PTSD
- Also, those who fail to exercise
- Those who have family members with it
Like we’ve already touched on, the symptoms are quite vague and mimic those of other conditions. But, essentially, you’ll ache from head to toe. Moreover, common symptoms include:
- Muscle pain, burning, twitching, or tightness
- Debilitating fatigue
- A low pain threshold or tender areas
- Trouble concentrating and remembering – known as ‘fibro fog’. Find out how to boost your memory here.
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Feeling anxious or depressed
It’s important to note that fibromyalgia can feel a lot like other conditions, such as osteoarthritis, tendinitis, and bursitis. Although a slight difference is that it is considered worse than those, and it affects the whole body, not just a certain area.
Less common fibromyalgia symptoms can include:
- Stomach pain, bloating, nausea, constipation or diarrhea (IBS)
- Horrendous headaches
- Dry mouth, nose or eyes
- Sensitivity to temperature, light or sound
- Urinating a lot more frequently
- Numbness or tingling in your face, arms, hands, legs or feet
Firstly, your healthcare professional will examine where is painful and then delve into your medical past and your family members with a variety of questions.
Then, they may take some blood tests. As there is no definitive way to confirm if someone has fibromyalgia, blood tests need to be taken in order to rule out anything else like arthritis, lupus or an underactive thyroid.
These simply blood tests will be quick and easy, and will just highlight any abnormalities in your hormone levels if there is any. Also, you may have X-rays to check for any underlying issues with your bones, joints or inflammation.
After all that if you’re healthcare professionals can’t give a solid diagnosis, they’ll then look to manage your pain. This will be done by determining how widespread your pain is, and how much of an effect it is having on your day to day life.
Treatment will vary based on the symptoms you are displaying. So, there are plenty of options, such as pain relievers, muscle relaxers, sleeping tablets, and antidepressants. Have a look here for more information on fibromyalgia medications.
Although general pain relievers may work for a short while, they may not completely kill the pain. Now, you also need to be careful with trying stronger pain relievers such as opioids, as they can be very addictive in certain cases.
But, a great way to manage your condition is to regularly do exercises and stay healthy.
Have a look at these great exercises to fight fibromyalgia!
You don’t need to sign up to a gym, you can simply go on daily walks, take up yoga or Pilates, or even something more fun like tai chi.
If you didn’t know, then exercise releases endorphins, which uplift your mood and put you on a high. Subsequently, this helps to fight pain, depression and insomnia.
Manual therapists, such as chiropractors, may be able to help in reducing feelings of pain or by increasing your flexibility or balance. You see a chiropractor works to strengthen your spine and associated muscles, thereby allowing for better communication between your nerves, through the spinal cord, and up into the brain.
Of course, you should always consult with your local G.P for more information on fibromyalgia and ask them about possible diagnosis.