Fibromyalgia – Symptoms, treatment, causes, expert answers

Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread body pain and muscle tenderness.

fibromyalgia - symptoms and treatment

Fibromyalgia is mostly misdiagnosed as most people including medical practitioners usually don’t understand the disease and there is no proper test for it.

This disease has no cure but some medications can be used to reduce its effects.

Causes of Fibromyalgia

The cause of fibromyalgia is not known. Some doctors claim it’s a defection in the coordination between the brain and the spine. There are factors that can also increase the risk of fibromyalgia. They include;

  • Injury or infection – Getting injured or having a chronic infection such as arthritis, flu, and pneumonia can increase your risk of getting this infection.
  • Giving birth – Giving birth can trigger fibromyalgia because of the physical and emotional stress involved at that particular time
  • Age – This disease is very common between the ages of 20 – 60 years.
  • Gender – This disease is more common and prominent in women than men. This could be because of the difference in pain reaction between the two.
  • Mood disorders – Mood disorders such as anxiety and depression have been linked to being able to increase the risk of this disease.
  • Lack of exercise – Not involving yourself in exercise, even if its just simple exercises, has been found to increase the risk of getting this infection.
  • Genetics – Fibromyalgia has been found to be genetically transferred. If there is a person in your family who has the disease, there is a very high likelihood another person will have the same disease in that family.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – Experiencing severe physical or emotional triggers can increase the risk of getting fibromyalgia.
  • Stress – Stress has been linked to increasing the risk of this disease due to possible changes in hormones in the body.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia

Pain is the most common symptom of this disease, but apart from it, other signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia are;

  • Increased pain sensitivity
  • Sleeping difficulty
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Painful menstruation
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Memory problems
  • Tender and painful joints
  • Headaches
  • Painful urination
  • Anxiety and depression.
  • Restless legs
  • Fluctuating body temperature
  • Paraesthesia

Some people might not even experience any of those other symptoms except pain.

Diagnosis

There is no real method for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia but the doctor can observe the symptoms and maybe carry out an x-ray to rule out the possibility of other infections. This diagnosis is just done but sometimes no clearer outcomes are gotten and this is the main reason why most cases are misdiagnosed.

There are also a few criteria that must be met for a diagnosis to be undertaken. The criteria include;

  • Have pain in at least 3 – 6 body parts out of the 19 parts or have milder pain in at least 7 body parts out of the 19.
  • The signs and symptoms must have been witnessed for three consecutive months
  • No other disease has been linked to causing the symptoms

Treatment

Methods that can be used in the treatment of fibromyalgia are;

  • Acupuncture – Most people go for this after around two years of experiencing the symptoms. Acupuncture helps in reducing inflammation and stimulating the release of the body’s own pain reliever called endorphins thus calming the brain.
  • Massage – Massage can help in reducing stress and tension in the body’s soft tissue thus reducing fibromyalgia pain.
  • Manipulation – This is also called chiropractic care. It helps in relieving muscle weakness and joint pain.
  • Aromatherapy – This involves aerating the body with essential oils so that you can inhale them. When the oils are absorbed into the skin, fibromyalgia pain is reduced.
  • Psychotherapy – This type of therapy is used to help you understand and deal with your thoughts and feelings. It is just a talking therapy between the victim and an expert therapist.
  • Physical therapy – This is used to make the muscles active and strengthen them, thus helping in relieving pain and other symptoms.
  • Antidepressants – Antidepressants are also used in the treatment of fibromyalgia in some patients. Its believed that they boost the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain thus easing the pain associated with fibromyalgia. Commonly used antidepressants are; tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline, serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors(SNRIs) such as duloxetine and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors(SSRIs) such as fluoxetine. The antidepressant treatment has side effects such as; mouth dryness, drowsiness, dizziness, weight gain, and constipation.
  • Pain relievers – Doctors might prescribe the use of over the counter pain killers such as ibuprofen to help reduce inflammation and muscle aches.
  • Anticonvulsants – The tested and highly recommended anticonvulsant for the reduction of pain related to fibromyalgia is pregabalin. It reduces pain and eases sleep problems. This treatment has side effects such as; swelling, dizziness, mouth dryness, and weight gain.
  • Muscle relaxants – Muscle relaxants such as tizanidine and cyclobenzaprine can be recommended to ease muscle stiffness, spasms, and muscle pain associated with fibromyalgia.
  • Sleep therapy – As part of treatment, doctors can also prescribe some medicines that can help in relieving sleep problems. Having enough sleep will help in relieving other symptoms related to pain.
  • Antipsychotics – Also known as neuroleptics can be used to help relieve long-term pain. This treatment has side effects such as; drowsiness, shaking, and restlessness.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy(CBT) – This type of therapy is used to change the way a person thinks about things and thus helping them have positive thoughts. A therapist holds a talk session with the victim to help them understand what they are feeling and avoid worries.
  • Psychological support – A patient can be put under counseling to help them understand what really they are suffering from and relieve them from any issues of negative self-esteem and live positively.
  • Medical marijuana – use of medical marijuana has been found to be able to relieve some symptoms related to fibromyalgia. The symptoms relieved are; pain and stiffness, sleeplessness, mental health, self-esteem, and it enhance relaxation.
  • Biofeedback – This helps in relieving muscle tension and pain. However, before engaging in biofeedback, you must consult your doctor.

Expert Q&A

What helps fibromyalgia naturally?

Naturally reduction of fibromyalgia pain involves the use of home remedies. Common methods for reduction of fibromyalgia pain are;

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Correct dieting
  • Massage
  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Stress reduction
  • Having enough rest
  • Aerobic exercises
  • Biofeedback

What essential oil is best for fibromyalgia

There are several oils that can be used in relieving physical symptoms of fibromyalgia. The recommended oils include;

  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Ginger oil
  • Nutmeg oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Sandalwood oil
  • Lavender oil
  • Evening primrose oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Clary sage oil
  • Rosemary oil

What parts of the body does fibromyalgia affect

Fibromyalgia causes pain in certain body parts, mainly;

  • Shoulders
  • Arms
  • Buttocks
  • Necks
  • Upper back
  • Neck

Can fibromyalgia affect your walking?

The pain caused by fibromyalgia and its effects on the joints can greatly affect your ability to do simple daily activities like bending, walking, and even performing simple home chores like washing utensils and even cooking.

Is fibromyalgia an autoimmune disease

Currently, no sufficient evidence has been presented that has shown fibromyalgia causes damage to tissues or inflammation. Therefore, it does not qualify to be an autoimmune disease.

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