How Does Fibromyalgia Feel?

How Does Fibromyalgia Feel? Ask the same question to 10 people and you may get 20 different answers. Fibromyalgia pain can manifest in many different ways, but it’s not all about the physical. People with fibromyalgia will also tell you what it feels like to be basically tired all the time, struggle with the ‘fibro brain’, and try to explain to loved ones why getting out of bed in the morning is so difficult.

But if you are wondering if your own experience could really be fibromyalgia, or if you are looking for clarity on how to support a loved one with fibromyalgia, there are several things you can learn about the condition: its causes . Common symptoms and natural treatments to control it.

Fibromyalgia: Symptoms, Possible Causes, and Diagnosis

Fibromyalgia syndrome is a chronic condition that affects the muscles of the body, bones, and soft tissues, and can lead to minimal to dying pain throughout the body. The symptoms span such a wide spectrum that the source of pain is ultimately subjective and remains uncertain. The subjectivity of fibromyalgia is also why this chronic condition is often misdiagnosed as another health problem. Now, it’s not that researchers don’t understand fibromyalgia; they do. However, they have not yet found a clear cause. [2.3]

According to the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA), fibromyalgia affects approximately 10 million people in the United States, 4 million of whom are adults; It also affects 3 to 6 percent of the world’s population. The incidence of this chronic condition is usually higher in women (that is, 75 to 90 percent) and is also common in siblings or mothers and their children. [4.5]

12 most common symptoms of fibromyalgia

The most common symptoms of fibromyalgia can include: [3,5,6]

  • Pain and stiffness throughout the body.
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Waves of tiredness and fatigue.
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping for a long time without feeling rested
  • Inability to think, focus and remember
  • Headaches and migraines.
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Pain in the face or jaw
  • Digestive problems such as bloating, constipation, stomach pain and IBS
  • Temperature sensitivity
  • Sensitivity to loud noises or bright lights

Despite a wide variety of symptoms, people with fibromyalgia are often diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50 [4], a gap likely caused by the subjectivity of the symptoms.

What Causes Fibromyalgia?

As mentioned earlier, researchers have yet to identify a cause. Instead, they attribute several factors to the ability to take responsibility for fibromyalgia. First,   past infections or the current disease outbreak can worsen existing fibromyalgia symptoms. Second, genetics can     play an important role in determining who has this chronic condition and who doesn’t. Research has shown over time that if someone in your family has fibromyalgia for any reason, it also increases the risk of getting it. Third, people with   other chronic conditions  like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to develop fibromyalgia. Finally   physical or emotional trauma.  caused by a car accident, for example, can lead to long-lasting fibromyalgia pain. [5.7.8]

Researchers from around the world are also looking into other possible causes of fibromyalgia. In particular, some study the nuances of how the central nervous system, that is, the spinal cord and brain, processes pain. [3]

Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia

Although fibromyalgia symptoms usually start early in life, the condition is not diagnosed until later in life. In the search for answers that can help stop constant pain, people may end up seeing numerous doctors before someone finally names fibromyalgia as the possible culprit for their pain. But this diagnosis is not as simple as you might expect for several reasons: [3]

  • Symptoms of fibromyalgia tend to overlap with many other  common   and   verifiable  health conditions
  • There is no test yet to effectively assess fibromyalgia or reveal a single physiological reason for pain.
  • Unfortunately, due to the two reasons mentioned above, doctors misdiagnose patients, simply dismiss their pain as false, or say there isn’t much they can do to help

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In the past, doctors offered a diagnosis of fibromyalgia based on at least 11 of the 18 “trigger points,” the most common being the back of the head, the top of the shoulders, the upper chest and hips. , knees and external elbows. [9]

What you can  do right now medically  (i.e., a rheumatologist) is to use the criteria set by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR). This criterion includes the following: [3]

  • History of widespread pain lasting for at least 3 months.
  • General symptoms, such as: fatigue, unrecovered awakening, and memory or thinking problems
  • Find out where the patient has felt pain in the past week.

Fortunately, even without a known cause, you can still treat and manage pain effectively.

Conventional Methods of Treating Fibromyalgia

Because fibromyalgia is associated with such a versatile set of symptoms, relief often takes the form not only of a combination of treatments but also from medical professionals. Depending on a person’s case of fibromyalgia, they may require a doctor, physical therapist, and mentor, among others.

Doctors give the average fibromyalgia patient several medications to relieve immediate physical and mental pain. Doctors generally prescribe pain relievers, antidepressants, or anticonvulsants. In addition to over-the-counter pain relievers and NSAIDs containing acetaminophen and ibuprofen, the FDA approved only three medications for the treatment of fibromyalgia: [3]

  1. Duloxetine (used to treat depression)
  2. Milnacipran (made for depression but now only used to treat fibromyalgia)
  3. Pregabalin (used to treat chronic pain caused by a damaged nervous system)

The problem with synthetic drugs is the long-term side effects that inevitably accompany their use. Due to the uncertain and chronic nature of fibromyalgia, you will almost certainly be on these potentially harmful drugs for a long time.

Masking so many symptoms at once also makes this treatment route counterproductive. Yes, those drugs can help with temporary pain relief, but the need to address other drug-induced side effects often leads to more long-term problems. Some of the most common side effects of fibromyalgia medications include: [10]

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Possible interactions with other medications.
  • Difficult to focus
  • Swelling
  • Weight gain
  • Hypertension
  • Suicidal thoughts

“The drug without side effects is only in our imagination.” – Dr. Eduardo Fraifeld (President, American Academy of Pain Medicine)

Natural Methods to Treat Fibromyalgia

For anyone looking to avoid or minimize the myriad of side effects just mentioned, we recommend exploring the alternative methods below.

The Fibromyalgia Diet

While there is no real diet specifically targeting fibromyalgia patients, doctors recommend that if certain foods cause constant discomfort, omit them from your meals. Food diaries can be helpful to keep track of foods that may or may not cause pain, and the more detailed the better. [11] After a while, you may begin to notice dietary patterns that make you feel better or worse. This is valuable information to both you and your doctor that will lead to more effective fibromyalgia treatment over time. As a good rule of thumb, you should avoid these 5 foods if you’re experiencing muscle, joint, or fibromyalgia pain. If you want to follow these preventive steps even more,

Supplements and herbs for fibromyalgia

Getting enough sleep and minimizing physical and mental stress are crucial for people with fibromyalgia. Fortunately, our planet produces natural anti-inflammatory herbs such as turmeric, ginger or garlic, and there are supplements such as melatonin or 5-HTP that help induce and encourage deeper dreams. By minimizing inflammation and tackling chronic fatigue before it negatively impacts your mental health, you can safely reduce symptoms. [12,13,14]

Supplementing with vitamins D, B12 and magnesium can also help relieve muscle pain, nerve pain, restore muscle fiber and improve your mood. [15,16,17] The easiest way to take advantage of this is through oral supplements, although it is also optional through your doctor to get these vitamins or minerals intravenously into specific parts of the body.

Yoga and Tai Chi for Fibromyalgia

Yoga and tai chi have been used for centuries to heal many physical and mental ailments. By combining meditation, mindful breathing, and relaxation, there is some evidence that each of these natural treatments can help effectively manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

A study published in the   International Journal of Yoga Therapy   followed a group of people with fibromyalgia for two months. Throughout the study, researchers saw significant improvements in their rigidity, anxiety, depression, and general well-being after regular yoga and meditation practice. There was even an increase in the days when the participants “felt good” and a decrease in the days of “lost work”. [18] Advertisement

Another in the   New England Journal of Medicine   conducted 12-week randomized trials with tai chi intervention. During the study, participants with fibromyalgia can continue to take routine medications and see their primary care health care providers or rheumatologists. They participated in a 60-minute tai chi class twice a week and were instructed to practice tai chi at home for 20 minutes every day. After 12 weeks, the group receiving a tai chi intervention showed greater sleep improvements compared to the control group and more subjects stopped taking fibromyalgia medication. [19]

Massage therapy for fibromyalgia

Massage therapy is undoubtedly one of the oldest alternative treatments still practiced (and very much alive). Whatever your fitness level, a massage therapy session can help slow your heart rate, relax your muscles, and increase the overall range of motion in your joints.

In the journal   Rheumatology International  , the researchers conducted a comprehensive review of all available studies regarding the effects of massage therapy on fibromyalgia symptoms. They found that massage therapy can provide immediate relief in the short term, especially when sessions take place at least 1 to 2 times a week. Additional research published in the   Public Library of Science (PLOS)  found that when massage therapy was performed for at least 5 weeks, fibromyalgia symptoms (e.g., pain, anxiety, and depression) provided immediate and beneficial improvements. While the long-term benefits could be seen, the researchers concluded that more research was needed before making a final claim. [20.21]

Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia

Acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine that works on the premise of restoring the balance of your body’s vital forces by using fine needles to stimulate certain parts of your body and promote better circulation. General opinion about acupuncture’s efficacy remains quite divided, although there is some promising research suggesting that people with fibromyalgia should consider this treatment.

Chinese Medicine   has published a study hoping to find out if acupuncture can actually improve pain and quality of life for fibromyalgia patients. The researchers divide the participants into two groups; Over the course of five weeks, one group received 5 acupuncture treatments, while the other received twice as many. After the five weeks had passed, the researchers found that the group who received 10 acupuncture treatments instead of 5 felt less pain and had a better quality of life. [22]

Exercise for fibromyalgia

If fibromyalgia is so painful, can exercise really be effective? Studies suggest “yes”. Many people refrain from exercise to keep their fibromyalgia symptoms from getting worse. However, an in-depth analysis of randomized controlled trials and exercise reviews for people with fibromyalgia published in   Current Pain and Headache Reports   suggests otherwise.

The researchers analyzed everything from aerobic exercise to strength training to yoga and Nordic walking, and concluded that different forms of exercise can effectively reduce fibromyalgia symptoms, such as pain and depression, while improving physical function and global health. [23] Of course, every person is different, so there is not one exercise for everyone. But under the guidance of a care specialist or physiotherapist you will find the one who works for you.

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