An Overview of Fibromyalgia
Do you feel:
- Afternoon fatigue?
- Headaches with exertion or stress?
- Can you not stay asleep?
- Slow starter in the morning?
- Afternoon headaches?
If you are experiencing any of these situations, then you might be experiencing fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is a common and chronic syndrome that causes pain and mental distress in the body. It causes widespread musculoskeletal pain, and it is accompanied by fatigue, sleep memory, and mood issues to the body. The symptoms may be similar to arthritis; however, fibromyalgia is a rheumatic condition and causes soft tissue pain or myofascial pain.
The NIAMS (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases) stated that around 5 million adults, ages 18 years and over in the United States had experienced fibromyalgia. Around 80 to 90 percent of fibromyalgia patients are mostly found in women who have this chronic disease, and men can have it as well.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
There are three symptoms that fibromyalgia causes a person to have discomfort in their daily lives. They are:
- Widespread pain: This pain is associated with fibromyalgia, and it is described as a constant dull ache that can last for at least three months. For it to be considered as widespread pain, it must occur both sides of the body, as well as above and below the waist.
- Fatigue: Individuals with fibromyalgia often awaken tired, even though they have been sleeping for long periods. The pain that fibromyalgia causes can disrupt the person’s sleep patterns, causing them to have sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
- Cognitive difficulties: This symptom is commonly known as “fibro fog.” It impairs the person’s ability to focus, pay attention, and concentrate on mental tasks.
Other symptoms can include:
- IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
- Stiff joints and muscles in the morning
- Problems with vision
- Pelvic and urinary problems
- Depression and anxiety
In the past, studies have shown that patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia had 11 out of 18 specific trigger points all around their bodies. Healthcare providers would check their patients and document how many of these points were painful to their patients by firmly, but gently, pressing their bodies to get a diagnosis.
The typical trigger points include:
- The back of the head
- The tops of the shoulders
- The upper chest
- The hips
- The knees
- The outer elbows
Nowadays, in a 2016 revised diagnostic criteria, healthcare providers can diagnose patients with fibromyalgia if the patient has pain in 4 out of 5 areas of the body that is causing them pain. The protocol when diagnosing patients is referred to as “multisite pain.”
Fibromyalgia Affecting the Endocrine System
When it comes to fibromyalgia, the symptoms are associated with the endocrine system. Research shows that fibromyalgia-like symptoms such as muscle pain and tenderness, exhaustion, reduced exercise capacity, and cold intolerance can resemble symptoms that are associated with the endocrine dysfunction like hypothyroidism and adrenal or growth hormone insufficiency.
More research has stated that fibromyalgia causes a person to develop chronic fatigue syndrome. Chronic fatigue syndrome causes the body to have a deficiency of serotonergic activity and the hypofunction of sympathetic nervous system function that could contribute to the abnormalities of the central components of the HPA axis. It can distort the body’s hormonal pattern that is being attributed to the hyperactivity of the CRH neurons. The hyperactivity caused by the CRH neurons can be driven and sustained by stress being exerted by chronic pain that has originated in the musculoskeletal system or the alternation of the central nervous system mechanism of nociception.
Researchers believe that repeated nerve stimulation causes the brains of patients with fibromyalgia to change. The change causes an abnormal increase level of certain chemicals (neurotransmitters) in the brain that signals pain. In addition, the brain’s pain receptors will develop a sort of memory of the pain that is causing problems to the patient’s body and causing them to be more sensitive since the signals are overreacting.
Even though fibromyalgia pain can be uncomfortable and consistent enough to interfere with a person’s daily routine. There are ways to relieve the pain and inflammation that fibromyalgia causes the body. Pain medication can bring down the inflammation and help a person sleep a little better. Other safe treatments that can help manage fibromyalgia pain are:
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture is a Chinese medical system that uses needles to cause changes in the blood flow and the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain and spinal cord.
- Therapy: A variety of different therapies can help a person reduce the effects that fibromyalgia has caused.
- Yoga and tai chi: These practices combine meditation, slow movements, deep breathing, and relaxation — both help control fibromyalgia symptoms.
- Reducing stress: Developing a plan to avoid or limit overexertion and emotional stress is useful when dealing with fibromyalgia. Learning to meditate and trying stress management techniques can help a person feel calm and recharged for the rest of the day.
- Getting enough sleep: Since fatigue is one of the main characteristics of fibromyalgia, getting enough sleep is essential. Practicing good sleep habits and going to bed and getting up at the same time each day can lessen the effects of fatigue.
- Exercising regularly: At first, exercising may increase the pain, but doing it gradually and regularly over time can decrease the symptoms. This can be walking, swimming, biking, and water aerobics can be beneficial to the body.
- Pacing yourself: Keeping track of activities is beneficial for people with fibromyalgia. Moderation of daily activities on the good days can help a person overcome the symptoms when they flare-up.
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle: Eating healthy food that has anti-inflammatory properties can be useful for the body, and finding enjoyable hobbies can be beneficial as well.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic illness that causes pain and inflammation that affects the soft tissue in the body. The symptoms can resemble joint inflammation and causes people to have fatigue and discomfort all over their body. When these symptoms flare up, it can cause body damage. Treatments can help a person reduce the effects of fibromyalgia and be beneficial. Some products are formulated to counter the effects of temporary stress and offer support in the gastrointestinal system and the body’s metabolism.
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, and nervous health issues as well as functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or chronic disorders of the musculoskeletal system. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
Felman, Adam. “Fibromyalgia: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 5 Jan. 2018, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/147083.php.
Geenen, Rinie, et al. “Evaluation and Management of Endocrine Dysfunction in Fibromyalgia.” Rheumatic Diseases Clinics of North America, U.S. National Library of Medicine, May 2002, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12122926.
Neeck, G, and L J Crofford. “Neuroendocrine Perturbations in Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.” Rheumatic Diseases Clinics of North America, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Nov. 2000, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11084955.
Staff, Mayo Clinic. “Fibromyalgia.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 11 Aug. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354780.
Staff, Mayo Clinic. “Fibromyalgia.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 11 Aug. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354785.
Unknown, Unknown. “Fibromyalgia.” National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 30 Sept. 2019, www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/fibromyalgia.
Wolfe, Frederick, et al. “2016 Revisions to the 2010/2011 Fibromyalgia Diagnostic Criteria.” Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism, W.B. Saunders, 30 Aug. 2016, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0049017216302086?via%3Dihub.
The information herein on "An Overview of Fibromyalgia" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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