What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a condition that is characterized by chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain all over the body. Other symptoms include sleep problems, fatigue, and emotional and mental distress. People with fibromyalgia tend to be more sensitive to pain than others. Fibromyalgia has a worldwide presence affecting nearly 1 in 20 people globally. Although men are affected by this condition women are seven times more likely to develop fibromyalgia. The cause of fibromyalgia is not known, but it can be effectively treated and managed, especially with natural treatment methods.
What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?
Chronic, widespread pain throughout the body or at multiple sites. Pain is often felt in the arms, legs, head, chest, abdomen, back, and buttocks. People often describe it as aching, burning, or throbbing.
headaches and migraine
Migraine or tension headaches are fairly common. Regular headaches may be caused by pain in the neck and upper back, tight neck muscles, or by tender points in the back and neck. These can grow to be debilitating, and can greatly interfere with day-to-day living.
tenderness to touch
There are 18 tender points that tend to be symmetrical in the body. They are located both above and below the waist around the neck, chest, shoulders, hips, and knees. A tender point feels painful when pressed on it with just enough force to turn a fingernail white.
tingling and numbness
Numbness or tingling in the arms, hands, legs, feet, and sometimes face. Numbness and tingling tend to come and go. Sometimes they are triggered by stress, an infection, or an injury, and at other times, they appear without an apparent trigger.
Difficulty falling asleep, significantly more nighttime awakenings, non-restorative sleep and daytime fatigue are common symptoms of fibromyalgia. Sleep and fibromyalgia share a bidirectional relationship: pain can prevent patients from getting enough rest, and sleep deprivation can exacerbate feelings of pain and tenderness.
fatigue and overwhelming tiredness
Fatigue ranges from mild tiredness to complete exhaustion. Severe tiredness may come on suddenly and can drain the person of all their energy. In this state they are feel too tired to do anything at all. People with chronic fatigue have a limited supply of energy to complete the tasks of the day and need to pace themselves. Their energy supply is metaphorically represented as spoons, and this is know as spoon theory.
Heightened sensitivity to light, noise, odors, and temperature.
About two-thirds of those with fibromyalgia have stomach pain, bloating, gas, and nausea on a regular basis. Constipation or diarrhea can also occur regularly. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are not uncommon in patients with fibromyalgia.
Research suggests more than half of people with fibromyalgia have problems with concentrating, thinking clearly, and memory. This is sometimes referred to as “fibro fog.”
depression and anxiety
Those living with fibromyalgia tend to feel rejected, isolated, or misunderstood by others. This often leads to depression and anxiety. The constant physical pain can also contribute to depression. Some researchers suggest that depression and fibromyalgia may be more than just a cause-and-effect relationship. A 2012 study cited that the similarities in the makeup of the two conditions, as well as treatment options, suggest they may be two symptoms of an underlying condition.