You have pains all over your body and don’t understand why? This could be not just simple fatigue but fibromyalgia — a mysterious disease that doctors around the world still argue about. How does it arise? Does it even exist? The only thing physicians agree on is that it’s time to take care of your health without delay.
FitCracker suggests we figure out what’s what together. Important: check yourselves with the map at the end of the article. One extra minute of your time may turn out to be decisive for your health.
Checking the list
Fibromyalgia can feel different for everyone, which is part of the reason it’s so difficult to diagnose. There is no blood test for the condition, and doctors cross off other conditions and check for fibromyalgia symptoms and to reach a diagnosis.
While the most common symptom is body pain, there are other symptoms that sometimes fly under the radar. Recognizing these symptoms, and getting treatment, may help.
1.Anxiety and Depression
Being in constant pain can lead to anxiety and depression.
However, many people with fibromyalgia continue to thrive, despite the pain. The key to coping is accepting the problem and learning how to minimize the pain—even if it can’t be cured completely, experts say.
“Fibromyalgia seems to be a problem with the brain in the way that it transmits pain,” says Daniel J. Clauw, MD, the director of the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center at the University of Michigan. “The neurotransmitters that are involved in pain transmission [are also involved in] mood.”
Fibromyalgia patients often report digestive problems that are usually related to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which has symptoms that include abdominal pain and constipation or diarrhea.
“Fibromyalgia has come to mean more than just widespread pain,” says Dr. Clauw. “It’s the poster child for a constellation [of symptoms] including IBS, interstitial colitis, and chronic fatigue.”
Doctors aren’t sure why these two conditions often occur together. One theory is that fibromyalgia medications may be exacerbating constipation, or IBS medications may be causing muscle aches and fatigue.
More than 80% of people with fibromyalgia experience fatigue, says Dr. Clauw. Consequently, fibromyalgia is often compared to chronic fatigue syndrome and sometimes diagnosed as such.
Nearly half of fibro patients, if not more, also meet the criteria for CFS, according to Dr. Clauw. In both, patients may experience feelings of tiredness that are so strong they impede school, work, or other daily activities.
A 2004 study found that 76% of treatment-seeking fibromyalgia patients reported chronic headaches, and of fibromyalgia patients with headaches, 63% had migraines. In addition to body pain, people with fibromyalgia also are prone to chronic headaches.
Research has shown that fibromyalgia patients lose more than three times as much “gray matter” brain tissue than their healthy peers, resulting in concentration and memory problems often referred to as “fibro fog.”
People with fibromyalgia may find themselves frequently confused, losing their train of thought, forgetting details, or mixing up words.
Unfortunately, even though fibro patients may feel more tired than their healthy peers, they also often have difficulty sleeping.
The catch-22 is that more sleep is likely to ease some of the pain, but people with fibromyalgia have difficulty falling or staying asleep and often don’t wake up feeling rested or refreshed. Some have trouble sleeping because of their discomfort, while others may be affected by the same neurotransmitters that may be creating the pain.
“In one area, this imbalance might cause pain,” says Dr. Clauw, “and in another, it might [effect] sleep. Very similar neurotransmitters control a lot of these functions.”
A stiff neck or creaky joint first thing in the morning is usually nothing to worry about. But for healthy patients, these morning aches and pains vanish pretty quickly after beginning the day.
In people with fibromyalgia, morning stiffness may linger for an hour or two, or make it extremely difficult to get out of bed.
- You have persisting pains for more than 3 months.
- Fatigue and stiffness are especially severe in the morning.
- You have a broken sleep pattern.
- The pain in some points of your body is more intense than in others.
- You are plagued by headaches.
- Your periods are very painful.
- You feel discomfort in the bowels and during urination.
- You are weather-dependent and react to cold and heat, sharp smells, and noise.
- Your body temperature can rise without any reason.
- You have unaccountable sensations in your body, especially in your limbs: numbness, burning, swelling, etc.
- You often find it difficult to concentrate and remember things.
- You are in a constantly irritated or depressed mood.
- It’s not a disease, just subjective sensations.
On the contrary, fibromyalgia is one of the most common disorders of the musculoskeletal system. However, there are too many unanswered questions about it, even among doctors. For one, it is still unknown what exactly causes it.
- It only threatens elderly women.
This is not true: even children can be affected, while the majority of people diagnosed range from 20 to 50 years of age. Statistically, fibromyalgia is more prevalent in women, but it doesn’t bypass men either.
- It’s not so bad. The pain is tolerable.
Not true either: fits of pain can even lead to disability. Moreover, there is a possibility that fibromyalgia increases the risk of stroke, particularly in young people.
- First and foremost: consult a doctor.
Only a doctor can determine if you really have fibromyalgia and prescribe the right treatment.
- Drug therapy.
As a rule, analgesics and anti-inflammatories are prescribed to treat fibromyalgia. Antidepressants may also be prescribed.
- Physical activity, massage, and other procedures.
These can restore your body’s mobility. In Japan, for example, short sessions of cryotherapy are used. Sports are also indispensable but only in moderation. Yoga or swimming would be a good choice.
- Restoration of emotional balance.
Everything that relieves negative attitudes and depression has a positive effect, direct or indirect. According to doctors, even pet therapy can reduce the symptoms of the illness.
Press the marked points: as a rule, the resulting pain is dull and shallow, and its focal area isn’t too large. The main sign of a possible disease is the symmetrical arrangement of the points. If everything matches, don’t put off a visit to your doctor!