Term ‘fibromyalgia’ is relatively new and, just few years back-the condition was also known as fibrositis, chronic muscle pain syndrome, psychogenic rheumatism and tension myalgias. The cause of this widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue disorder is still unknown.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia
The pain in patients with fibromyalgia really has no rules. Some describe the pain as deep muscular aching, throbbing, and, for some it is shooting, and stabbing in the muscles. The pain also vary depending to the time of the day because, the pain and stiffness are usually worse in the morning and condition improves during the day
Intensity of fatigue can vary significantly from patient to patient. While, it is mild in some, yet it is unbearable in others. Patients feel totally drained of energy.
- Sleep disorder
Great majority of patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia have also one sleep disorder called the alpha-EEG anomaly. Researchers conducted on patients have found that most of the patients could fall asleep easily, without much trouble, but their deep sleep was constantly interrupted by increased brain activity that people normally have when they are awake. The consequences are logical- they wake up tired even though they seem to get plenty of sleep. Many fibromyalgia patients have been found to have other sleep disorders such as:
- sleep apnea
- upper airway resistance syndrome
- bruxism, popularly called teeth grinding
- periodic limb movement during sleep
- restless legs syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Many symptoms associated with this, still unexplained bowel condition, are evidenced with the patients with fibromyalgia and the most common are:
- frequent abdominal pain,
- abdominal gas, and
- acid reflux or
- Gastro-esophageal reflux disease
Chronic headaches Recurrent and strong headaches are also very common in patients and, some experts believe that it could be due to tenderness or stiffness in their neck and shoulders. Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome This syndrome is about strong pain that affects the jaw joints and surrounding muscles. The tremendous jaw-related face and head pain is present. Other symptoms
- Premenstrual syndrome and painful periods,
- chest pain,
- morning stiffness,
- cognitive or memory impairment,
- numbness and tingling sensations,
- muscle twitching,
- irritable bladder,
- the feeling of swollen extremities,
- mood changes
- skin sensitivities, dry eyes and mouth,
Who is affected?
Possible causes of fibromyalgia
- Chemical changes in the brain
Several researches have proven that people with fibromyalgia have some kind of changes in the regulation of certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. The most affected neurotransmitters are
- serotonin, which is though to cause depression, migraines and many gastrointestinal symptoms
- substance P, chemical associated with pain, stress and anxiety and depression
- Sleep disturbances.
Some researchers have came to the conclusion that disturbed sleep can even cause several symptoms of fibromyalgia.
An injury in the upper spinal region or some part of central nervous system may trigger the development of fibromyalgia.
Some researchers done in the past have found that some of the patients with fibromyalgia have viral or bacterial infections and that this might have triggered the condition.
- Abnormalities of the autonomic nervous system
Autonomic nervous system controls many bodily functions such as heart rate, blood vessel contraction, sweating, salivary flow and intestinal movements and it is logical to assume that any kind of abnormality will cause drastic changes in all these functions and possibly trigger fibromyalgia.
- Changes in muscle metabolism
Muscle metabolism is controlled by many factors such as blood flow, many hormones and neurotransmitters! Any kind of impairment of these factors may contribute to decreased strength and fatigue.
- Family history – There is a greater chance of fibromyalgia development if some close family member is already diagnosed with it
- Sex - It is proven that fibromyalgia occurs more often in women than in men.
- Age – It occurs mostly during early and middle adulthood.
- Disturbed sleep patterns - Some experts claim that sleep disorders can also contribute to development of fibromyalgia.
Diagnosis of fibromyalgia
- patient histories,
- self-reported symptoms,
- a physical examination and
- An accurate manual tender point examination.
- Tenderness or pain in at least 11 of the 18 specified tender points when pressure is applied
Treatment of fibromyalgia
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Treatment programs
- Complementary and alternative medicine and
- Self care
These analgesic medications are used to ease the pain and stiffness. However, effectiveness varies from person to person. The most commonly prescribed pain reliever is one called Tramadol (Ultram®).
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Some of the most commonly prescribed NSAIDs are aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®, others), naproxen sodium (Anaprox®, Aleve®)
Antidepressant medications, that are being commonly used are:
- Nortriptyline (Aventyl®, Pamelor®),
- Fluoxetine (Prozac®)
- Doxepin (Sinequan®)
- Sertraline (Zoloft®)
- Paroxetine (Paxil®)
These antidepressants are commonly used to help promote sleep and relieve symptoms of depression that many patients develop after years if coping with this condition.
Muscle relaxants Taking the muscle relaxants before the sleep may help treat muscle pain and spasms. Benzodiazepines These drugs are commonly used to help relax muscles and promote sleep.
Complementary and alternative medicine
It is about the use of manipulation to address joint and spinal problems. It is being done by doctors of osteopathy, which is something similar to chiropractors!
- Massage therapy
It involves use of different manipulative techniques to relax almost all body's muscles and soft tissues. The goal of therapy is to improve circulation in the muscle, increasing the flow of nutrients and eliminating waste products.
- Chiropractic care
Spinal manipulation is one form of therapy chiropractors use to treat restricted spinal mobility. They are manipulating the spine from different positions and may also use massage and stretching to relax muscles that are in spasm.
- Acupressure and acupuncture
These treatment disciplines are based on a Chinese belief that 14 invisible meridians, that lie underneath skin could be manipulated in order to improve some condition in your body.
- Acupuncture- the pressure is applied by inserting very fine needles into the skin
- Acupressure - the pressure is applied with fingers
Self-care tips and strategies
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Pace yourself
- Exercise regularly
- Get enough sleep
- Reduce stress.