What is fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a common and chronic health problem that causes pains and tenderness all over the body.
It affects millions of people worldwide, people of all ages, including children.
Fibromyalgia affects people not only physically, but also mentally and socially. Although women suffer the most from fibromyalgia, men develop it too.
The word fibromyalgia comes from the Greek algos meaning “pain”, myosmeaning “muscles” and fibromeaning “fibrous tissue” Fibromyalgia is seen as a rheumatic disorder, but it does not cause joint damage or inflammation as arthritis does, even if it is very similar to arthritis because of the severe pain and tiredness.
What causes fibromyalgia
The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but there are several factors discovered that may be involved in causing it or a combination of: genetics, hormonal disturbances, stress.
Research has suggested that many people develop fibromyalgia after a stressful incident such as:
- Giving birth
- Accident or physical injury
- Abusive relationship
- Having an operation
- A viral infection
- The breakdown of a relationship
- The death of a loved one
- Stress and trauma
Most common symptoms of fibromyalgia
The main symptoms of fibromyalgia are:
- Pain – usual neck and back pains, but some people complain of pain all over the body.
- Tiredness –waking up exhausted due to unrefreshing sleep, feeling tired all day long, unable to perform simple activities.
- Irritable bowel syndrome – pains, diarrhea, bloating, constipation.
- Restless leg syndrome – feeling the urge to move legs, particularly when lying in bed or sitting down.
- Pins and needles in fingers and toes.
- Depression or anxiety.
- Painful menstrual periods.
- Sensitivity to cold or heat.
- Memory problems, cognitive problems (fibro fog).
Unusual symptoms of fibromyalgia
We have seen what are the usual symptoms of fibromyalgia that most of the people with fibromyalgia handle, but, unfortunately, there are many other symptoms that are quite unusual and of course, very disturbing to the subjects.
Fibromyalgia patients reported the following unusual symptoms:
- Paresthesia – an abnormal sensation of prickling, itching, burning of the skin
- Personality changes
- Dystonia – involuntary muscle contractions
- Hearing loss
- Intolerance of alcohol
- Enhancement of medication side effects
- Hair loss
- Hot flashes
- Icy cold feet
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Dizziness and vertigo
- Loss of ability to distinguish some shades of colors
- Weight gain or loss
- Sensitivity to odors
- Carbohydrate/chocolate cravings
- Urine retention
- Unexplained toothaches; shooting pains in gums and teeth
- Weak ankles
- Fibrocystic breasts
- Handwriting difficulties
- Tissue overgrowth (fibroids, ingrown hairs, heavy and splitting cuticles, adhesions)
- Night driving difficulty
- Tendency to cry easily
- Mottled skin
- Mitral valve prolapse
- Difficulty speaking known words
- Loss of libido
- Dropping things frequently
- Drooling during sleep
- Dryness of eyes and mouth
- Increased thirst
- Hoarseness – abnormal changes in the voice
- Night sweats
- Suicide attempts
- Getting yeast infections frequently
- Irregular heartbeat
- Nail ridges
In conjunction with all these numerous symptoms, fibromyalgia is often associated with disorders such as osteoarthritis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosingspondylosis and temporomandibular disorder.
But these rheumatic conditions are not the only problems that occur. Patients with fibromyalgia should check if they deal with insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes symptoms because blood sugar imbalances cause insulin absorption problems.
Treatments for fibromyalgia
Each person is different and needs personalized treatment. The best way to treat fibromyalgia, is to combine medication with alternative treatments and self care therapies. Usually, the treatment will include the following:
- Pain relievers – doctors will prescribe pain relievers that may have a lower risk of addiction and may help with pain.
- Antidepressants – in order to help with anxiety and pain caused by fibromyalgia.
- Exercise – will help in relieving pain and stress. It is important to exercise safely without increasing the pain. The patient will gradually increase the intensity of the activity.
- Yoga – helps in reducing pain and fatigue and improves mood.
- Acupuncture – a reliable treatment in pain relief.
- Vitamin D supplements – it is established that fibromyalgia patients have low levels of Vitamin D; taking Vitamin D supplements will definitely help.
- Balneotherapy – Studies show that patients who received daily warm bath therapy, had less tenderness and pain. If you are not able to attend a heated pool or Jacuzzi, a simple warm bath for 20 minutes daily willsimilarly behelpful.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy – can help improving pain, mood, tiredness, sleep problems, anxiety, depression.
- Herbal supplements
How fibromyalgia can affect your life?
Patients with fibromyalgia are usually struggling with various emotions based on the fact that the diseases usually changes the life and brings with it a whole range of emotions: anger, shock, sadness, grief, the feeling of being stuck and alone.
It changes the patient’s life, not only emotionally but also financially, mentally, physically, relationships, career.
Fibromyalgia not only affects the person, but his/ her family too. Fibromyalgia is known as an “invisible illness”.
This is why, it is difficult for others to understand their pain. Fibromyalgia patients frequently feel alone or forced to lean on others. Being unable to work will worsen the financial situation, causing frustration among family members.
Additionally, as a result of low libido, tiredness and pain, the sexual life may suffer. Besides, partners may be afraid to initiate contacts being afraid not to cause them more pain.
Indubitably, this will lead to frustration, feeling of loneliness, anger, depression. Some patients complained that they have lost their partners because of the illness. In these cases, couples counseling can be very helpful.
Illness may affect children too. In this case is mandatory that they have to be educated about fibromyalgia.
Children may be scared that they could lose their ill parent; this is why children have to be explained what this illness is about and how it affects.
Even if the ill persons are not able to enjoy physical activities, they can spend quality time with their children in order to make them feel safe.
Social life and relationships with friends, most likely will be affected. The person with fibromyalgia is no longer able to meet with friends, go to parties, gym,clubs, etc. because of the fatigue, pains and anxiety.
Attending a support group would be very effective, not only for information, but for finding others who struggle with the same issues, understanding each other’s problems, reducing the feeling of loneliness and isolation.
Unfortunately, fibromyalgia patients are tired of being told that is all in their head and this is one of the reasons they are not comfortable with the idea of seeking counseling.
They start to think, at some point, that their illness is really psychological. Since there are still counselors that consider that fibromyalgia is an emotional illness, it is very important to find an experienced in dealing with fibromyalgia therapist.
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