Fibromyalgia: Things That You Need To Know
Fibromyalgia existed for centuries and in the past, it was considered a rheumatic disease. Scientists used to call fibromyalgia fibrositis and found later that “itis” that seem to cause inflammation in the joints and distinctly different from fibromyalgic pain.
Even though Fibromyalgia is a common disorder, it continues to baffle the medical professionals as well as the patients afflicted with this condition.
So what exactly is Fibromyalgia and what important things should you know?
Fibromyalgia is a common chronic pain disorder that causes widespread pain and tenderness all over the body. Such pain can be so intense that most Fibromyalgia patients struggle to perform daily tasks such as a job, taking care of their children, etc.
Typical symptoms are fatigue, sleep disturbance and memory and mood issues. FM affects people mentally, physically, and socially.
Women are more prone to develop FM than men. Those who have fibromyalgia pain also have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and depression. There is still no concrete evidence as to why women have a higher risk of developing fibromyalgia than men.
The underlying root cause is the inflammation that drives the body to be hyper sensitive to pain.
Common Fibromyalgia symptoms to check out for:
- Chronic muscle pain, muscle spasms, or tightness
- Moderate or severe fatigue and decreased energy
- Insomnia or waking up feeling just as tired as when you went to sleep
- Stiffness upon waking or after staying in one position for too long
- Difficulty remembering, concentrating, and performing simple mental tasks (“fibro fog”)
- Abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and constipation alternating with diarrhea (irritable bowel syndrome)
- Tension or migraine headaches
- Jaw and facial tenderness
- Sensitivity to one or more of the following: odors, noise, bright lights, medications, certain foods, and cold
- Feeling anxious or depressed
- Numbness or tingling in the face, arms, hands, legs, or feet
- Increase in urinary urgency or frequency (irritable bladder)
- Reduced tolerance for exercise and muscle pain after exercise
- A feeling of swelling (without actual swelling) in the hands and feet
The symptoms may intensify depending on the time of day — morning, late afternoon, and evening tend to be the worst times because these are the times when the body is more active and exerts effort.
These symptoms may also get worse with fatigue, tension, inactivity, changes in the weather, cold or rainy conditions, overexertion, hormonal fluctuations (such as just before your period or during menopause), stress, depression, or other emotional factors.
FM is a chronic pain state as the source of pain originates in the tissue of the body. Because of this, movement and too much exercise can potentially worsen the pain.
Fibromyalgia pain can be thought of as a Central Nervous System pain which means that the pain perception may be amplified in those afflicted with fibromyalgia.
An anti-inflammatory diet similar to those with Lupus is extremely effective for those with fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia and Depression
Due to chronic nature of the condition, fibromyalgia patients are prone to having depression and anxiety. They become socially withdrawn due to inability to perform their daily functions and tend to rely on medications for pain and depression. It’s important to note that the cocktail of meds that are typically prescribed can cause other potential symptoms such as abdominal pain/discomfort, swelling, numbness, and tingling.
If you have fibromyalgia or suspect that you have it, you may want to follow the specific diet and life protocol that is sure to help you on your road to recovery.
It’s important to understand that fibromyalgia symptoms can be life altering, and symptoms can range from mild to severe. If you were to ask a fibromyalgia patient to describe their condition would be “pain” and “fatigue”. The energy level is depleted because of the wax and waning of the pain cycle that depletes the patient both emotionally and physically, therefore withdrawing from social lives is very common.
Fibromyalgia patients typically have a difficult time with sleep and wake up with pain as if a truck hit them and all their limbs feel “heavy” like they are buried in cement. Due to such pain, they avoid movement and begin to gain weight which in turn makes the pain worse by putting unnecessary burden to the body and increasing inflammation.
Gentle Yoga exercises that can help can be found here.
Fibromyalgia vs. Lupus
Lupus and fibromyalgia are often confused for one another. The diagnosis is easier if there is something specific to biopsies such as a lupus rash or lupus kidney disease. However, with Lupus, other than the pain and fatigue, it can be easily identified by a collection of other symptoms like rashes and abnormal autoimmune antibody laboratory tests.
Since lupus often involves joint pain, women with a lot of joint pain and fatigue are often concerned that they may have lupus, especially if they have a positive ANA (antinuclear antibody) test in the blood.
Fibromyalgia can occur concurrently with lupus, but most of the time lupus and fibromyalgia are separate diagnoses. In fibromyalgia, patients tend to have trigger point pain in their joints and muscles. It’s usually the pain that is widespread and associated with poor sleep, fatigue, and difficulty with focus and concentration.
The medical treatment for lupus and fibromyalgia are completely different. Lupus is treated with corticosteroids, immunosuppressive meds, antimalarial, and anti-inflammatories. On the other hand, fibromyalgia is treated with low-dose antidepressants, muscle relaxants, nerve medications, and other pain medications. Patients can also undergo fibromyalgia pain management program which involves narcotics, which puts you at risk of addition to such medications.
Lupus is frequently characterized by a facial rash that looks like a butterfly on your face. The rash does not tend to come and go on a daily basis, but it is there for at least several weeks over the face and sun-exposed areas of the body. The joints sometimes get a little bit swollen and stiff. On the flip side patients typically struggle with pain and fatigue.
Many scientific evidence points to Leaky Gut as the root cause of Fibromyalgia and Lupus.
Many autoimmune conditions overlap in their symptoms and manifestations. It’s safe to say that all autoimmune conditions are due to dysregulation of our immune system which is triggered by a toxin which then is perpetuated.
Recognizing the root and working toward resolution is much more productive in improving the quality of lives for those living with Lupus than conventional approach where the immune system is suppressed rather than looking to resolve the underlying root cause that is causing our dysregulation of immune system make more sense.
Twenty years ago, there were many fibromyalgia patients that I treated. Often, they were thought as “impossible” malingerers because they were always complaining of pain all over their body when all their labs were normal.
They were frowned upon and offered strong pain meds and anti depressants and sent them on their way and I witnessed health declines in many such patients.
I now understand and realize their pain is real and more importantly, there are holistic approaches to reversing their symptoms to enable complete healing.
So if you’re reading this, I hope you find comfort in knowing that healing your leaky gut, changing your diet, and using movement as therapy will get you one step closer to healing. But you must do this everyday and commit to it.
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