Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.

Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.

Women are much more likely to develop fibromyalgia than are men. Many people who have fibromyalgia also have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression.

While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, a variety of medications can help control symptoms. Exercise, relaxation and stress-reduction measures also may help.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

Widespread pain. The pain associated with fibromyalgia often is described as a constant dull ache that has lasted for at least three months. To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist.

Fatigue. People with fibromyalgia often awaken tired, even though they report sleeping for long periods of time. Sleep is often disrupted by pain, and many patients with fibromyalgia have other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.

Cognitive difficulties. A symptom commonly referred to as “fibro fog” impairs the ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks.

Other problems. Many people who have fibromyalgia also may experience depression, headaches, and pain or cramping in the lower abdomen.

Doctors don’t know what causes fibromyalgia, but it most likely involves a variety of factors working together. These may include:

Genetics. Because fibromyalgia tends to run in families, there may be certain genetic mutations that may make you more susceptible to developing the disorder.

Infections. Some illnesses appear to trigger or aggravate fibromyalgia.
Physical or emotional trauma. Post-traumatic stress disorder has been linked to fibromyalgia.

Why does it hurt?

Researchers believe repeated nerve stimulation causes the brains of people with fibromyalgia to change. This change involves an abnormal increase in levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain (neurotransmitters). In addition, the brain’s pain receptors seem to develop a sort of memory of the pain and become more sensitive, meaning they can overreact to pain signals.

Risk factors for fibromyalgia include:

Your sex. Fibromyalgia is diagnosed more often in women than in men.

Family history. You may be more likely to develop fibromyalgia if a relative also has the condition.

Rheumatic disease. If you have a rheumatic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, you may be more likely to develop fibromyalgia.

The pain and lack of sleep associated with fibromyalgia can interfere with your ability to function at home or on the job. The frustration of dealing with an often-misunderstood condition also can result in depression and health-related anxiety.

FAQ about Fibromyalgia

How does a person get fibromyalgia?

There are an array of triggers that can lead to a chronic condition, known as fibromyalgia, that is accompanied by insomnia and troubles with sleep, extreme tiredness, and musculoskeletal pain. Thus, constantly experiencing a feeling of worry, anxiety, nervousness, and unease will provoke painful sensations all over the body, as well as mental issues, including problems with concentration and memory. So, emotional strain, depression, stressful environment, and nerve-racking situations are considered the leading sources for this type of disorder. Other possible reasons are:

  • a psychiatric disorder that can develop in a person who has witnessed, survived, or encountered events that put them in danger, serious threats, or risk of possible death; 
  • injuries, especially those that have struck the spinal cord and its upper area;
  • physical inactivity;
  • other diseases that affect muscles and joints, for example, osteoarthritis.

An accurate diagnosis and a proper treatment scheme are essential for restoring the normal quality of life. Since there is no universal cure that can fight the condition efficiently, one of the medical objectives should be recognition of causes, their elimination, and lifestyle adjustment. 

What are usually the first signs of fibromyalgia?

One of the early signs of the condition is a painful feeling that becomes widespread and can affect the whole body, decreasing the performance levels and provoking fatigue. Also, suffering due to the disorder, a patient may have really low levels of energy, and once you can’t resolve the issue with healthy sleep, adequate diet, or proper stress management, it is time to see a rheumatologist or neurologist who can detect the enemy before the condition gets worse, becoming unmanageable with more serious consequences, and design a therapy strategy to alleviate the symptoms that may also include;

  • different type and degree of aching and soreness;
  • tingling sensation;
  • increased sensitivity;
  • mobility decline;
  • burning sensations;
  • sleep disorders, such as apnea attacks.

Sometimes, such unpleasant conditions as dry eyes or dizziness and balance loss can also occur. It is pivotal for a patient to get adequate and timely treatment to fight all signs that can consist of pain management with drugs, good sleep repair, dealing with stress and depression, physiotherapy and exercise.

What does fibromyalgia pain feel like?

The most common complaint of patients who were diagnosed with fibromyalgia is a painful sensation that usually affects muscles or joints. The intensity of the pain can vary and even change throughout the day. It can appear in the upper or lower body. A pulsing and beating feeling, a syndrome of overworked or strained muscles, the decreased strength with constant exhaustion, as well as a sensation of uncomfortable tingling or prickling, can also bother people with the disorder. Other symptoms that are reported are a deep and dull ache that is hard to control and usually doesn’t go away without taking the right drugs that can help to manage pain in a capable manner. The inability to move easily and without pain is also triggered by a poorly handled medical condition.

Can fibromyalgia go away?

The key medical goals when combating such a disorder as fibromyalgia are boosting the quality of life, getting rid of all symptoms that prevent from performing simple daily tasks, bringing back energy levels, and regaining well-being. Unfortunately, there is no one remedy that can fully stop the disorder from developing and make it go away. But with knowledgeable and experienced doctors who are capable of building a smart care plan individually for each patient, it is possible to achieve greater ache and pain control and improve and restore function. A treatment tactic may consist of different objectives and recovery techniques, including:

  • reduce pain and gain a better sleep, using appropriate drugs;
  • physical therapy can help you fight symptoms;
  • seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist can help you cope with this condition. Such therapy is paramount for those who feel anxious or depressed.

Complementary therapies and alternative methods, such as yoga, acupuncture, and massage, can help relieve symptoms. Also, there is a myriad of smaller and more significant changes in the way of your living that will have a positive impact on your overall health.

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