Fibromyalgia is a complex but treatable syndrome.
Fibromyalgia is a common yet very complex and often misunderstood illness, so complex it is often misdiagnosed. Current medical theory believes that this syndrome is caused by a lowered pain threshold due to a heightening of pain signals in the brain. The neurotransmitters, also called the pain receptors, in the brain are affected by an over abundance of specific chemicals. In normal amounts these chemicals cause you to feel pain normally, but when the chemicals are over produced they can cause a hypersensitivity to pain. Over time the neurotransmitters themselves appear to experience a memory to the pain, which caused the pain receptors themselves to become hypersensitive to pain stimuli without any chemicals needing to be present.
Risk Factors For Fibromyalgia
While there are not any specific causes of fibromyalgia, there are some factors that can make you more likely to be afflicted by this illness.
- Your Sex – Women are more likely to be affected by this disease. Some research shows that women are 10 times more likely to be affected than men.
- History of Rheumatic Diseases – If you have a history of rheumatic disease, like arthritis, you may have an increased chance to develop fibromyalgia.
- Your Genetics – A family history of fibromyalgia may make you more predisposed due to possible genetic mutations.
- Recent Infections – If you have had a recent infection or illness it may have caused the fibro or even made it worse.
- Physical Injury – A recent physical injury is a potential trigger for fibromyalgia.
- Emotional Trauma – Similar to a PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) a painful emotional episode may have caused your hypersensitivity to pain.
Primary Fibromyalgia Symptoms
There are many symptoms that you may experience. It is common for two patients with this syndrome to experience very different things. The list below is by no means exhaustive, however it does contain the most common symptoms.
- Tender spots in different areas like neck, back, knee…
- Morning body aches or stiffness
- Activity, cold, stress, and stress may aggravate the pain
- Depression and sleep problems are common
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Problems with memory or concentration
- Numbness or tingling in hand and feet
- Headaches, often they are migraine or tension
- Hypersensitivity to hot and cold
- Dry eyes, mouth or nose
One Tricky Diagnosis
Fibromyalgia is a tricky syndrome to diagnose. Its symptoms can appear similar to many other illnesses including bursitis, tendinitis, and osteoarthritis. To begin with, your doctor will perform a few physical test and ask you to answer a few questions. To qualify as fibromyalgia you must show sensitivity in 11 of 18 possible tender points, have pain that is on both sides of your body above and below your waist, and have had pain that has lasted for at least three months. As long as there is no other underlying condition your physician may immediately diagnose you or perform a few laboratory tests to confirm their suspicions.
Complete Patient Centered Fibro Treatment Plans
At IBJI we are focused on making sure that your diagnosis is correct but we also want to make sure your treatment plan does not just focus on one item. The pain you are experiencing could be causing other physical or psychological problems. It is important that your care include not only pain treatments but making sure you are enjoying a very high quality of life. Your treatment could include:
- Specific fibromyalgia drugs like Lyrica and Cymbalta
- Pain relievers, including over the counter and prescription medications
- Sleeping aids to help you get a restful sleep
- Muscle relaxants to ease stressed and aching muscles
- Anti depressants to help elevate your mood and to let you sleep
- Anti-seizer medications which can actually help reduce some types of pain
- Physical therapy and message therapy
- Exercise appropriate to your level of pain
- Yoga and Tai Chi which aid in relaxation through meditation & deep breathing
- Change in diet to healthier foods and less caffeine
As you can see there are many way to treat your symptoms. It is important to see an expert like the physicians at IBJI. Find one of our physicians who specialize in treating your pain; they are easily accessible throughout the Chicagoland area. We look forward to helping make your pain a distant memory.
*The blog is for general information and educational purposes only regarding musculoskeletal conditions. The information provided does not constitute the practice of medicine or other healthcare professional services, including the giving of medical advice, and no doctor-patient relationship is formed. Readers with musculoskeletal conditions should seek the advice of their healthcare professionals without delay for any condition they have. The use of the information is at the reader’s own risk. The content is not intended to replace diagnosis, treatment or medical advice from your treating healthcare professional.