Fibromyalgia – Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

What is Fibromyalgia?

Health experts have described it as a common yet chronic syndrome that leads to bodily pain along with mental distress. In most cases, symptoms of fibromyalgia are similar to the symptoms of joint inflammation and arthritis. It is worth noting that like arthritis, fibromyalgia neither causes joint inflammation nor muscle damage.

According to a recent survey, around five million adults are affected by fibromyalgia each year out of which 80-90% patients are women. This condition affects your soft tissues and brings fatigue and several types of discomfort.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Doctors have revealed that detecting early symptoms of fibromyalgia may help treat the condition and you can prevent severe damage to your health. Although these symptoms can occur anytime, reports suggest that people above 45 are more prone to them. Therefore, keep an eye on the following symptoms of fibromyalgia.

  • Headaches
  • Widespread pain
  • Stiff muscle and joints in the morning
  • Stiff jaw and pain in the jaw
  • Tiredness and pain in facial muscles and fibrous tissues
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Numbness in the feet and hands
  • Uncontrollable menstrual pain
  • Cold or heat sensitivity
  • Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
  • Fatigue
  • Fibro-fog or difficulty in concentration

There are certain symptoms which are not common like the aforementioned ones. However, if you observe any of these signs, consult with your doctor immediately.

Causes of Fibromyalgia

According to health experts, the exact causes of fibromyalgia are unknown. A report from rheumatology field suggests that central pain processing in your brain leads to the onset of fibromyalgia. It can be a hereditary problem as well.

If people, especially women, have a history of fibromyalgia, they are likely to develop the disorder later in life. Moreover, people who have spinal arthritis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or other rheumatic diseases are also prone to fibromyalgia. There are certain risk factors associated with this condition as well.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune diseases such as lupus
  • Repetitive injuries
  • An emotional, traumatic, or stressful event such as a car accident
  • The manner in which your genes process painful stimuli
  • Central nervous system(CNS) disorders

Tender Points

Tender points are the areas in your body where fibromyalgia causes severe pain such as inner knees, the back of your head, and outer elbows. Many patients develop pain in the neck, upper chest, outer hip, and shoulders. Doctors often diagnose fibromyalgia by putting pressure on the tender points and by gauging your reaction to the pressure.

However, this is not an accurate way to make final diagnoses. Your doctor may detect pain in other ways. This pain is widespread and affects people differently. Therefore, doctors often identify fibromyalgia by the severity and chronic nature of pain regardless of the body part.

Treatment of Fibromyalgia

This painful condition requires proper medical treatment. Fibromyalgia is difficult to manage as each patient encounters different symptoms. Doctors have suggested that having a treatment plan for each individual is necessary to control the pain and symptoms alike.

Plus, patients need to work with their doctors to create an effective treatment plan and to achieve the best results. Health experts recommend the following treatment for fibromyalgia.

  • Acupuncture
  • An active exercise program
  • Chiropractic care
  • Behavior modification therapy
  • Low-dose of anti-depressants
  • Physical therapy
  • Massage
  • Psychotherapy

Exercise

You can reduce the pain, sleep disturbance, stiffness, and tenderness by opting for strength, resistance training, and aerobic exercise. If exercise improves your condition, you need to be consistent to get rid of the condition.

You should also work with a personal trainer to practice the right postures and to exercise regularly. Do not forget to consult with your doctor before opting for exercise. Your doctor will suggest whether you need physical activity or not after examining your condition.

Acupuncture

Some patients witness an improvement in their condition after acupuncture therapy. This therapy lowers pain and stiffness. You need to discuss your condition with an acupuncturist to find how many sessions you will need. The sessions of acupuncture therapy are based on the severity of your symptoms.

Drugs

In certain cases, drugs are given to reduce constant pain. Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants like Cymbalta, milnacipran, Savella, or duloxetine to relieve pain.

Moreover, if a patient encounters seizures, anti-seizure drugs like pregabalin, Lyrica, and Neurontin will be given. You should tell your doctor if you have other health issues when discussing your condition to avoid adverse effects of different medicines.

Behavior Modification Therapy

This therapy is a kind of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is effective to reduce stress or negative behavior in people who have fibromyalgia. These therapies increase mindful and positive behaviors and encourage patients to learn new coping skills. Plus, it includes relaxation exercises as well.

The Role of Diet in Fibromyalgia Treatment

Doctors have revealed that patients can control symptoms and improve their condition by making essential dietary changes. You should consume a balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight to improve your condition and the quality of your life. If you are obese, you are more likely to develop symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Therefore, you should make the following changes in your daily diet.

Eat Gluten-free Food

A recent study has indicated that gluten sensitivity leads to fibromyalgia. You can reduce pain by eliminating foods that contain gluten, from your diet. A gluten-free diet is ideal for people with celiac disease and effective to reduce inflammation in your body as well.

Consume Nuts and Seeds

Consuming seeds and nuts provide micronutrients and minerals to your body. These nutrients are necessary to promote cell function that might help in fibromyalgia.

High-energy Foods

When struggling with fibromyalgia, try to consume high-energy foods that contain limited or no sugar. For instance, beans, oatmeal, avocado, tofu, and almonds can make excellent food choices. These super-foods keep you energized and combat the factors that lead to constant tiredness.

Avoid Excitotoxins and Additives

Studies have revealed that removing additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame lowers the intensity of pain.

Avoid Polyols and Fermentable Oligo-di-mono-saccharides (FODMAP)

People who have fibromyalgia need to consume a low FODMAP diet. This is a quick and safe way to reduce pain and tiredness alike.

Bottom Line

There is no exact treatment for fibromyalgia. However, there are treatment plans and diagnostic criteria available that help detect pain and its severity. The symptoms of fibromyalgia improve significantly if you follow the treatment plan consistently.

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