It’s amazing how many people suffer from fibromyalgia, and yet have NO idea what the disorder really is. In fact, a startling number of fibromyalgia sufferers are either misdiagnosed or fail to be diagnosed altogether.
It’s important to understand what fibromyalgia is, including what its symptoms are, what causes it, and how to treat it. Here, you’ll find everything you need to know on this chronic syndrome…
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a musculoskeletal condition that is really considered a “syndrome” instead of a disorder. A syndrome is essentially a collection of symptoms, that, when existing together, imply the presence of a specific disease.
Here are some interesting facts about fibromyalgia:
- Roughly 2% of the American population suffered from fibromyalgia in 2005. That’s 5 million people! And the numbers have increased ever since…
- The prevalence of fibromyalgia is much higher in women than men–roughly 3.4% of women versus 0.5% of men.
- Children may also suffer from the disorder, though it’s far less common than in adults.
- Roughly 5.5 million ambulatory hospital visits every year are made by sufferers of fibromyalgia.
- The direct medical costs of the syndrome are roughly $3,500 per year.
- Patients with fibromyalgia rated their “quality of life” as a 4.8 out of 10.
(Information courtesy of the CDC)
As you can see, fibromyalgia is a common condition. In fact, it’s the second most common musculoskeletal disorder after arthritis. Understanding it is an important part of knowing how to life a healthy, happy life despite your health problems!
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
Like so many other chronic health conditions, it’s not fully known what causes fibromyalgia. There are a few theories about the causes of the problem, including:
- It may be the result of hormonal disturbances in the body.
- It could be caused by excess stress.
- Genetics are very likely to play a role in the condition.
- Low levels of serotonin may contribute to the low pain threshold.
- Low serotonin levels may also have a part to play in the anxiety.
- Sudden trauma to the brain and/or spinal cord may be partly responsible for the condition.
- Poor physical conditioning could be a factor in the syndrome.
There are no proven theories, and there is no single cause of the disorder. It’s more likely that fibromyalgia is caused by a number of different factors, many of which are outside our direct control.
Though you may not know exactly what causes the disorder, it’s certainly helpful to know what is fibromyalgia.
What are the Fibromyalgia Symptoms?
In order to understand what is fibromyalgia, it’s vital to know what symptoms to expect. Here are the most common symptoms:
This is the most common symptom of the syndrome, and it’s a hard one to explain. The pain tends to be spread around your body, with no fixed boundaries. It’s often a deep muscular ache, a throbbing or shooting pain, or even an intense burning.
The pain will usually be worst in the morning, and accompanied by stiffness or tight muscles. Pressure on the tender spots can be very painful. The pain will usually be concentrated around the joints and connective tissue.
Fibromyalgia sufferers often feel as if their limbs are filled with lead or concrete, too heavy to lift. They may have almost no energy, and thus are unable to perform any tasks or do any work–even office or desk work.
Not only can the pain of fibromyalgia make it hard to fall asleep, but you may struggle to stay asleep. The syndrome can lead to a serious form of insomnia, similar to the effects of sleep apnea. You’ll never fall into a deep sleep, but you will be waking up all night long.
Those suffering from fibromyalgia will often have a hard time concentrating on tasks. Their memory and recall will also suffer, and they will feel like their head is filled with a fog–referred to as “fibro fog” by patients.
Digestive problems are fairly common side effects of fibromyalgia, with diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, and abdominal upset being a constant companion in up to 70% of cases.
Difficulty with Exercise
The pain of your fibromyalgia can make it very hard for you to do exercise on a regular basis. The fatigue and abdominal upset will certainly make things more challenging. Unlike with other disorders, moderate exercise will INCREASE the pain of your fibromyalgia. Mild exercise should be done in very short intervals.
Chronic headaches are reported in up to 70% of fibromyalgia cases, usually either tension headaches or migraines. The headaches tend to be fairly severe, and they can occur no less than twice a week. They may be caused by the trigger points around your head and neck.
Many people find their jaws and neck ache, thanks to temporomandibular joint dysfunction. Up to 25% of fibromyalgia sufferers feel jaw pain, but the pain is in the ligaments rather than in the joint itself.
Other common symptoms of the syndrome include acid reflux, arrhythmias, shortness of breath, chemical sensitivities, painful period and PMS, burning or dry mouth and eyes, profuse sweating, and sensitivity to odors, loud noises, and bright lights–and many others!
As if these symptoms weren’t bad enough, there are a few things that can cause the symptoms to worsen, including:
- Changes in weather
- Environments that are chilly, windy, or drafty
- Fluctuations in hormone levels (such as during menstruation or menopause)
All of these things can make your fibromyalgia symptoms worse than they already are!
Is there a Treatment?
Now we come to the important part: is there a way to treat or cure the syndrome?
There is no cure for fibromyalgia but there are many ways to manage the syndrome. #fibromyalgia
Sadly, there is no cure. Science has not yet discovered the cause of the syndrome, so they cannot develop medication or treatments to block whatever causes it to set in in the first place.
But there are ways to manage the syndrome:
- Medication — There are a few medications that have been proven effective for managing the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Some of these include Cymbalta, Savella, and Lyrica, though WebMD has more information on the medications for fibromyalgia.
- Exercise –– Exercise can help your body to produce more endorphins, which act as natural painkillers. In order to exercise with fibromyalgia, you have to start out light and gradually work your way up to more strenuous forms of exercise.
- PT –– Physical therapy helps patients learn to stretch and move in ways that will relieve fibromyalgia pain.
- Medical marijuana –– While a fairly controversial treatment, it has been proven to help reduce the chronic pain of fibromyalgia.
- Glutathione –– Glutathione is an antioxidant that helps to eliminate the free radicals that cause inflammation in the body. Inflammation is one of the primary causes of fibromyalgia pain, so eliminating the free radicals can help to reduce the pain.
For a top-shelf glutathione supplement, you’ll want to try the ImmunoPro supplement by Well Wisdom. Not only does it contain high-quality glutathione, but it’s made with all-natural ingredients, 100% GMO-free, and offers all the benefits obtained from whey protein.
Definitely a good idea to help you manage the symptoms of your fibromyalgia!