It is a disorder characterized by amplified musculoskeletal pain followed by Sleep, fatigue, mood, and memory issues. It is a chronic condition that causes tenderness in the muscles. According to researchers, fibromyalgia alters the way the brain and spinal cord processes non-pain and painful sensations. Its symptoms appear after an event such as surgery, physical trauma, or psychological effects. It can be said that symptoms accumulate without showing any triggering effect.Fibromyalgia (1)

Fibromyalgia pain in different regions

The pain can initiate in various tissues and muscles of the body. It can be mild and severe and sometimes extremely unbearable.

  • Chest pain

Fibromyalgia pain in the chest resembles the pain of a heart attack. It begins in the cartilage that joins the breastbone to the ribs. Pain radiates towards arms and shoulders. Pain may feel stabbing, and sharp.

  • Back pain

It is the most common region of the pains. One cannot distinguish whether the back pain is due to fibromyalgia or due to some other conditions such as arthritis, or muscle pull. Other symptoms of fibromyalgia may pinpoint its onset in the body.

  • Leg pain

The pain can also target the soft muscles of the legs. The pattern of pain is similar to that of muscle stiffness, or cramps. It is deep, throbbing, and burning. One may also feel numbness or tingling in the legs.

Symptoms

Fibromyalgia causes “regions of pain”. Some of the regions have been overlapped with areas of tenderness known as “tender points”. The pain in these areas is like a persistent dull ache. Some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia are:

  • Fatigue

People with fibromyalgia often feel tired even after having a full sleep. Amplified pain causes sleep disorder. The patient cannot sleep properly due to pain, no matter how long does he sleep. He experiences sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome.

  • Widespread pain

Pain in fibromyalgia is like a persistent dull ache that lasts for at least twelve weeks. The pain is widespread and targets both sides of the body and below and above the waist.

  • Cognitive difficulties

A symptom known as “fibro fog” or “brain fog” influences the ability to concentrate, pay attention, and focus on a specific task. Fibro fog also includes

  • Difficult staying alert
  • Memory lapses

Fibromyalgia also shows some other signs and symptoms. Such as:

  1. Irritable bowel syndrome IBS
  2. Chronic fatigue syndrome CFS
  3. Interstitial cystitis
  4. Migraine and some other forms of headache
  5. Painful bladder syndrome
  6. Depression
  7. Anxiety
  8. Postural tachycardia syndrome
  9. Temporomandibular joint disorder
  10. Painful bladder syndrome

Symptoms in women

Fibromyalgia is usually considered a woman disease. Women experience more severe symptoms such as:

  1. More severe widespread pain
  2. Irritable bowel syndrome
  3. Painful periods

Symptoms in men

Men also face severe pain. Fibromyalgia affects them emotionally and impairs their quality of life, relationships, and career. Men who go to the gym regularly feel more pain and fatigue and cramps in legs.

Causes

Exposure of nerves to repeated stimulation causes the change in brain and spinal cord functioning. It abnormally increases the level of those chemicals that transmit pain.

Moreover, pain receptors in the brain become more sensitized, which means they excessively respond to pain or non-pain impulses.

Several factors are causing this change.

  • Infections

Some serious infections and illnesses influence the brain and trigger a change, causing an elevation in the symptoms of fibromyalgia. For example, GI infections, pneumonia, and flu are caused by Shigella and Salmonella bacteria, which have a possible connection with fibromyalgia.

  • Genetics

Fibromyalgia is inheritable. Any mutation in genes influence the transmission of pain signals and makes an individual more vulnerable to fibromyalgia.

  • Emotional and physical events

Some physical incidents such as car accidents cause fibromyalgia in a person. Moreover, the death of loved ones and prolonged stress and depression also aggregate fibromyalgia.

Diagnosis

A doctor diagnoses a person with fibromyalgia if he has the widespread pain for at least 12 weeks or more. Here the word “widespread” indicates the pain on both sides of the body. There are no lab tests and imaging tests that specify fibromyalgia. The doctor performs some other tests to make a differential diagnosis.

A person is said to have fibromyalgia if he experiences extensive pain in;

  • Left upper region
  • Right upper region
  • Left lower region
  • Right lower region
  • Axial region ( back, neck, abdomen, chest)

Tests to rule out other illnesses are:

  • Complete blood count
  • Thyroid function test
  • Rheumatoid factor
  • Celiac serology
  • Anti-nuclear antibody
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
  • Cyclic citrullinated peptide test
  • Vitamin D

If there is a possibility that the patient is suffering from sleep apnea, then the doctor suggests an overnight sleep study.

Treatment (2)

The treatment of fibromyalgia includes a combination of medication and self-care therapies. The priority is to alleviate symptoms and improve the patient’s health.

  • Medication

Medications improve the sleep pattern and provide relief from pain. Commonly prescribed medications are:

  1. Pain killers

OTC drugs are may be helpful to reduce pain. For example, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium,

  1. Antidepressants

They promote sleep, reduce fatigue and pain due to fibromyalgia. For example, fluoxetine, milnacipran.

  1. Anti-seizure drugs

Some drugs that are used to treat epilepsy are also helpful in alleviating the pain of fibromyalgia. Pregabalin was the first FDA (Food and drug authority) approved medicine to treat fibromyalgia.

  • Therapy

Several therapies can reduce the unfavorable consequences of fibromyalgia on life.

  1. Physical therapy

A physical therapist informs a patient with exercise that improves stamina, flexibility, and strength.

  1. Occupational therapy

The therapist suggests the patient about certain arrangements in the workplace and alters his way of working, which reduces the stress over the body.

  1. Counseling

A healthy conversation with a counselor strengthens the belief of a patient in his proficiency and skills.

  • Lifestyle changes

Some modifications in routine life help the person to rectify symptoms of fibromyalgia. Such as

  • Proper sleep
  • Taking less stress
  • Getting engaged with healthy sports

References

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354780
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/fibromyalgia#treatment