What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a pain syndrome characterized by chronic pain, fatigue, and sensitivity to touch.
This syndrome is the most shared medical cause of chronic widespread pain in the United States.
This affects 2% to 4% of people, mostly women.
The definition of fibromyalgia symptoms and signs includes:
- Chronic pain, which might be in the muscles, joints, and/or bones,
- Trouble sleeping, and
- Tenderness all over the body to the light touch
People with fibromyalgia may also experience
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Cognitive problems, such as forgetfulness and lack of concentration (fibro fog)
- Abdominal pain
- Dry eyes
- Pain in the chest wall
- Dry mouth
- Bladder symptoms
- Pelvic pain
- Heart palpitations
- Numbness and tingling
- Chemical sensitivities and multiple allergies, and
- Weight gain
Exercise and getting enough sleep are very important in managing fibromyalgia. Taking medicine can help relieve pain.
The fact is, there is no test to detect fibrositis. When fibromyalgia is suspected by a healthcare professional, testing is sometimes necessary to rule out other medical conditions.
- Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS)
7 Types of fibromyalgia
- Generalized muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Neuropathic pain
- Abdominal and pelvic pain
Causes of fibromyalgia
Doctors and researchers do not know what causes fibromyalgia.
Based on the latest research, the cause appears to be a multi-impact theory involving a genetic disposition (inherited characteristics) complemented by a trigger, or a set of triggers, such as infection, trauma, and stress.
Let’s take a closer look at these potential factors and several others that can influence why people develop fibrositis.
A past illness could trigger fibromyalgia or make your symptoms worse. Flu, pneumonia, gastrointestinal infections, such as those caused by the bacteria Salmonella and Shigella, and the Epstein-Barr virus, all have possible links to fibrositis.
Fibromyalgia is often hereditary. If you have a family member with this condition, you are at higher risk of developing it.
Researchers believe that certain genetic mutations may play a role. They have identified some possible genes that affect the transmission of chemical pain signals between nerve cells.
People experiencing severe physical or emotional trauma can develop fibrositis. The condition has been linked to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Like trauma, stress can have lasting effects on your body. Stress has been related to hormonal changes that could contribute to fibromyalgia.
Healthcare providers do not fully understand what causes the chronic and widespread nature of fibrositis pain. One theory is that the brain lowers the pain threshold. Sensations that were previously not painful become very painful over time.
Another theory is that nerves overreact to pain signals.
Risk factors for fibromyalgia
Risk factors for fibromyalgia include:
- Your sex. Fibromyalgia is diagnosed more often in females than in males.
- Family history. You may be more likely to develop fibromyalgia if one of your parents or siblings also has the condition.
- Other disorders. If you have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus, you are extra likely to develop fibromyalgia.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia
In short, everything hurts. Common symptoms include:
- Muscle pain, burning, spasms, or tightness
- Low pain threshold or tender points
- Draining fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating and remembering, called “fibro fog”
- Insomnia or not sleeping well
- Feeling nervous, worried, or depressed
Fibromyalgia can feel similar to osteoarthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis. But instead of hurting in one specific area, the pain and stiffness could be all over the body.
Other fibro symptoms can include:
- Stomach pain, bloating, nausea, constipation, and diarrhea (irritable bowel syndrome)
- Dry mouth, nose, and eyes.
- Sensitivity to cold, heat, light, or sound.
- Urinate more frequently
- Numbness or tingling in your face, arms, hands, legs, or feet
Diagnosis of fibromyalgia
A doctor will suspect fibromyalgia founded on your symptoms. Doctors may require you to have pressure sensitivity or tender points in a specific number of certain points before saying you have fibrositis but are not required to make the diagnosis. A physical exam can be helpful in detecting tenderness and ruling out other causes of muscle pain. There are no diagnostic tests (such as X-rays or blood tests) for this problem. However, you may need tests to rule out another health problem that could be mistaken for fibromyalgia.
Because widespread body pain is the main feature of fibromyalgia, healthcare providers will ask you to describe your pain. This can help differentiate fibrositis from other conditions with similar symptoms. Other circumstances such as hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland) and polymyalgia rheumatic occasionally mimic fibromyalgia. Blood tests can show if you have any of these problems. Fibrositis is sometimes confused with rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. But again, there is a difference in symptoms, physical findings, and blood tests that will help your healthcare provider detect these health problems. Unlike fibrositis, these rheumatic diseases cause inflammation in the joints and tissues.
Treatment options for fibromyalgia
Medical care is needed because fibromyalgia can be difficult to manage. As it is a syndrome, each patient will knowledge a dissimilar set of symptoms, and an individual treatment plan will be necessary.
Treatment may include some or all of the following:
- An active exercise program
- Behavior modification therapy
- Chiropractic care
- Physical therapy
- Low-dose antidepressants, although not a first-line treatment
People with fibrositis should work with their doctor to come up with a treatment plan that will provide the best results.
Medications may be recommended to treat certain symptoms.
These may include over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. Though, the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) issued a recommendation against the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to treat fibrositis in its efficient 2016 guidelines.
Antidepressants, such as duloxetine or Cymbalta and milnacipran or Savella, can help reduce pain. Anti-seizure medications may be prescribed, such as gabapentin, also known as Neurontin, and pregabalin, or Lyrica.
However, a review has suggested that patients often stop using these medications because they are not effective in relieving pain or because of their adverse effects.
Patients should inform the physician of any other medications they are taking to avoid side effects and interactions with other medications.
A combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training, or strength training, has been linked to a reduction in pain, tenderness, stiffness, and sleep disturbances in some patients.
If exercise helps symptoms, it’s important to stay consistent to see progress. Exercising with a partner or a personal trainer can help keep your exercise program active.
Some patients have experienced developments in their quality of life after starting acupuncture therapy for fibrositis. The number of sessions required will be contingent on the symptoms and their severity.
One study found that 1 in 5 people with fibromyalgia uses acupuncture within 2 years of diagnosis. The researchers concluded that it can improve pain and stiffness. However, they ask for more studies.
Behavior modification therapy
Behavior modification therapy is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) that aims to reduce negative behaviors that increase stress or pain and improve positive, mindful behaviors. It includes learning new coping skills and relaxation exercises.
If the medications your healthcare provider prescribes do not completely relieve your fibrositis symptoms, you can seek alternatives. Many natural treatments focus on reducing stress and reducing pain. You can use them alone or in conjunction with traditional medical treatments.
Natural remedies for fibromyalgia include:
- Physical therapy
- 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)
- Yoga, use with caution if there is hypermobility
- Massage therapy
- A healthy and balanced diet
Therapy can potentially reduce the stress that triggers symptoms of fibromyalgia and depression.
Group therapy may be the cheapest option and will give you the opportunity to meet other people who are experiencing the same problems.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is another option that can help you manage stressful situations. Individual therapy is also available if you prefer personalized help.
It is important to note that most alternative fibromyalgia treatments have not been thoroughly studied or proven effective.
Ask your healthcare provider about the benefits and risks before trying any of these treatments.
Fibromyalgia can cause pain, incapacity, and a lower quality of life. American adults with fibrositis can have complications such as:
- More hospitalizations. If you have fibromyalgia, you are double as likely to be hospitalized as someone without fibrositis.
- Lower quality of life. Females with fibromyalgia may knowledge a lower quality of life.
- Higher rates of major depression. Adults with this disease are extra than 3 times more probable to have major depression than adults without fibrositis. Detecting and treating depression is extremely important.
- Higher rates of death from suicide and injuries. Rates of death from suicide and injury are higher among fibromyalgia patients, but overall mortality among adults with fibrositis is similar to that of the general population.
- Higher rates of other rheumatic conditions. Fibromyalgia often coexists with other types of arthritis such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and ankylosing spondylitis.