Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues.
Doctors don’t really know what fibromyalgia is or what causes it, but researchers believe that the condition affects the way that the brain processes pain, causing it to be amplified and spread throughout the body. It seems to be more prevalent in women than in men.
The condition may develop suddenly after severe psychological stress or physical trauma such as infection or surgery. However, it may also develop gradually with no known triggers. Often people who suffer from fibromyalgia also have irritable bowel syndrome, tension headaches, anxiety, temporomandibular joint (TMJ), and depression.
Fibromyalgia causes what’s now referred to as “regions of pain.” The pain in these regions feels like a consistent dull ache. Your healthcare professional will consider a diagnosis of fibromyalgia if you’ve experienced musculoskeletal pain in 4 out of the 5 regions of pain outlined in the 2016 revisions to the fibromyalgia diagnostic criteria.
This process of diagnosis focuses on the areas of musculoskeletal pain and severity of pain as opposed to an emphasis on pain duration, which was previously the focal criteria for a fibromyalgia diagnosis.
Other symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
- trouble sleeping
- sleeping for long periods of time without feeling rested (nonrestorative sleep)
- trouble focusing or paying attention
- pain or a dull ache in the lower belly
- dry eyes
- bladder problems, like interstitial cystitis
- mental fog: memory lapses, difficulty concentrating, trouble staying alert
- In people with fibromyalgia, the brain and nerves may misinterpret or overreact to normal pain signals. This may be due to a chemical imbalance in the brain or abnormality in the dorsal root ganglion.
Fibromyalgia can also affect your emotions and energy level.
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How to cope with Fibromyalgia. Here you have some ideas from our patients:
- Getting plenty of sleep – working from home during the pandemic has been a game-changer 🙂 – track it on a health app.
- Yoga, best to practise almost every day. Its lessons about how to meet challenge with grace help hugely – as do the endorphins and the half hour of deep relaxation after every class.
- Walking: 7,500 steps a day, as recommended to age group.
- Mindful breathing and meditation (read more about controlled breathing)
- The understanding and support of people around. Good to have support group.
- An anti-inflammatory diet. Read more about AIP diet on our blog.
- Chiropractic care can help with joint pains, back pain, neck and shoulder pain.