Do you have Fibromyalgia?
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Many people with fibromyalgia experience pain all over the body. This can escalate from mild to severe at various times. It may be difficult to locate the point of pain, as every muscle may ache (although pain can radiate from certain fibromyalgia tender points). Fibromyalgia pain is always chronic; this means it persists long-term, even if the severity fluctuates. Acute pain on the other hand, is where pain is temporary, such as an in injury from a cut or a broken bone. The very fact that there is no obvious cause or location of pain is one of the reasons why some people wait so long for a diagnosis believing it may just be in their head. Although fibromyalgia pain does not appear to damage muscle or joint tissue like arthritis, it can nevertheless wear the body down under the strain. Any chronic pain weakens the body's immune system making a person more prone to illnesses such as flu and urinary tract infections. Pain can also affect a person's quality of life, their ability to work, socialize and spend time with the family. Pain often tends to be worse in the morning and may be aggravated by weather, lack of sleep, stress or physical activity. Fibromyalgia pain has been described as a shooting, stabbing deep muscular ache and is usually treated with fibromyalgia medications.
What are NOT fibromyalgia pains (and therefore require immediate medical attention) are:
In today's busy world, most of us experience periods of tiredness, particularly at the end a hectic day or week. However, people with fibromyalgia often have an all-encompassing tiredness which consumes them completely. In fact, before being diagnosed, some wonder if they even have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which is characterized by extreme exhaustion (women are four times as likely as men to develop CFS). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 30-70 percent of those diagnosed with CFS also have fibromyalgia. See, what is the difference between chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia?
Many people with fibromyalgia experience a confusion and forgetfulness known as the fibro fog. Symptoms are: mental confusion, short term memory loss and an inability to pay attention or focus. An 'attack' of fibro fog makes carrying out some jobs particularly difficult, especially those that require attention to detail. Before being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, some wonder if they even have attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD). According to some experts lack of sleep is usually a trigger, although depression, certain medications and bad nutrition may contribute towards symptoms. Treatment of fibro fog usually centers around improving the quality of a night's sleep, for example by limiting caffeine near bedtime, establishing regular sleep routines and trying relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation. Read also about a fibromyalgia diet for improving symptoms naturally.
The vast majority of fibromyalgia patients have problems in getting a good night’s sleep and may suffer from insomnia. This can lead to a vicious cycle because lack of sleep worsens symptoms, which in turn worsens the chance of a good night's sleep. What qualifies as a good nights sleep? Lack of REM: that is, rapid eye movement or deep sleep. During this phase of sleep the body releases hormones which repair and rebuild damaged tissues. If any light noise wakens you in the night, or if you experience few dreams, chances are, you are not falling into the REM stage of restorative sleep. In general, lack of REM sleep EQUALS more fibromyalgia pain. Research shows that some exercise, if manageable, one to two hours before sleep can help people sleep easier. Read also about other fibromyalgia causes.
Studies show that nearly 60 percent of people who suffer irritable bowel syndrome also have fibromyalgia. People with IBS can feel bloated and alternate between constipation and diarrhea. The condition can be exacerbated by certain foods such as citrus fruits, chocolate and alcohol. As neither IBS nor fibromyalgia has a specific cause, they can both be difficult to diagnose. Both occur frequently in women and symptoms are stress induced. Studies show that people with both conditions have an altered response to pain, in that they experience it more easily and at a higher level. In fact it is only recently that the medical community recognized fibromyalgia and IBS as legitimate physical disorders and not psychosomatic ones. Read about the dangers of stress.
Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a severe condition which causes people to feel like they need to urinate frequently. The condition is similar to a bladder infection, only that when tested, no bacterium is found in the urine. Most IC sufferers are women but men also suffer (1 in 10 cases are male). The cause of IC is not known but it may be a reaction to previous infections or it may be that the immune system is attacking its own tissue. As the condition is difficult to diagnose it may be misdiagnosed as a urinary tract infection. Women with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are at increased risk of developing IC. Scientists are currently investigating the common links.
People with fibromyalgia tend to suffer from frequent headaches, or periodic migraines. This may be related to fibromyalgia and increased sensitivity to pain. If headaches are constant or are blindingly severe, a doctor may recommend a MRI scan to rule out any underlying problems. If headaches are fibromyalgia related, painkiller medications are commonly prescribed. Elavil, a pain relief drug, is probably the most popular and is also prescribed for the treatment of IBS and interstitial cystitis. See also, head and face problems for other causes of headaches.
Many people with fibromyalgia also suffer from heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is easily diagnosed if a person has symptoms of chronic heartburn. Symptoms include an upset stomach, belching, food repeating itself and tasted long after it has been eaten. Many people with GERD also suffer insomnia, another side effect or symptom of fibromyalgia.
Many people with fibromyalgia also suffer depression and bouts of anxiety. Symptoms of depression include a chronic, severe low mood, lack of self worth, reduced interest in activities which gave previous enjoyment and change in appetite and sleep patterns (see also, effects of depression). One problem people with fibromyalgia face is that when a doctor treats the symptoms of depression they may also expect fibromyalgia symptoms to disappear too. This is not usually the case, as pain and fatigue may still continue unabated. For this reason, it is important to listen to your own body, and not be swayed by how you ‘should’ feel. One natural way to boost serotonin levels (the so-called happy hormones in the body) is to integrate fibromyalgia exercises into your weekly routine.
Only a doctor can give a fibromyalgia diagnosis and make recommendations for fibromyalgia treatment. However, if you answer Yes to more than 3 of the questions below, you may be a possible candidate for the condition.
1. Do you have a lot of pain when the fibromyalgia tender points are pressed?
|Related Articles on Fibromyalgia
For more conditions which cause pain and fatigue, see the following:
Arthritis Guide: Overview of signs, tests and treatment.
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