WHAT IS FIBROMYALGIA?
Fibromyalgia is often referred to as the "Invisible Disease" because the main symptom is pain without physical attributes and cannot be diagnosed with X-rays or blood tests. Fibromyalgia, or Fibro, is a disorder that causes widespread muscle pain often accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood changes. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.
Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.
Many people who have fibromyalgia also have tension headaches, TMJ disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression.
WHO IT AFFECTS
Between 80 and 90 percent of people who get a diagnosis are women, according to the National Institutes of Health. Of the estimated 5 million adults with fibromyalgia in the U.S.as few as 10% are men.
Doctors don't know exactly what causes fibromyalgia, but it most likely involves a variety of factors working together. These may include:
- Genetics- There may be certain genetic mutations that may make you more susceptible to developing the disorder.
- Infections- Some illnesses appear to trigger or aggravate fibromyalgia.
- Physical or emotional trauma- Fibromyalgia can sometimes be triggered by a physical trauma, such as a car accident. Psychological stress may also trigger the condition.
- Widespread pain- The pain associated with fibromyalgia is often described as a constant dull ache that occurs across the entire body lasting for at least three months.
- Fatigue- People with fibromyalgia often awaken tired, even though they report sleeping for long periods of time. Patients with fibro sometimes have other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
- Cognitive difficulties-Typically called "fibro fog", fibro sufferers have the inability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks.
- Other conditions- Fibro often exists with other symptoms such as irritable bowel syndrome, migraine and other types of headaches, painful bladder syndrome, or TMJ disorders.
In general, treatments for fibromyalgia include both self-care and medications. Here are a few things that have worked for other fibromyalgia sufferers to help lessen the symptoms:
- Therapy- A variety of different therapies can help reduce the effect that fibromyalgia has on your body and your life. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and counseling are options that may help.
- Exercise- While there is no cure known for fibromyalgia, exercise, relaxation and stress-reduction measures may help control symptoms.
- Vitamins / Medicines- Medications can help reduce the pain of fibromyalgia and improve sleep. Common choices include pain relievers, antidepressants, andanti-seizure drugs. Your doctor should also check for vitamin deficiencies, like B12, and may recommend supplements if needed.
- Hot Cold Therapy- Heat Therapy may relieve soreness and stiffness from fibromyalgia by boosting blood flow to the places where you hurt, while Cold Therapy helps to ease swelling in certain areas. Use a cold pack for cold therapy or for moist heat, you can soak in a warm bath or use a moist heating pad, such as The Original Sack by Sacksy Thyme, which can be used Hot or Cold, and has aromatherapy benefits to help release stress and ease tension. Click here to purchase or learn more.
If you think you may have Fibromyalgia, see your doctor to get a full diagnosis and start treatment right away. This blog is not intended to treat, diagnose or give medical advice.