Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes tenderness and pain to the muscles and bones, creates fatigue, and can affect sleep and mood. Exact causes of fibromyalgia are unknown, but some causes may include:
- physical or emotional trauma
According to the Mayo Clinic, some researchers are looking into how the central nervous system processes pain and how it may amplify pain in people with fibromyalgia, possibly due to an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain.
Fibromyalgia symptoms may come and go. In most cases, the disorder doesn’t tend to get worse over time. The pain syndrome can disrupt life and make day-to-day activities more difficult, but people who experience symptoms can learn to cope with the pain, avoid triggers that bring about flare-ups, and manage other complications that arise from the condition.
Disability and lifestyle disruption
Symptoms like joint pain can limit people’s mobility and make it more difficult to focus while on the job. Constant pain from fibromyalgia can be referred to as “fibro fog,” causing a low level of pain over a long period. Because of these symptoms, many people with fibromyalgia aren’t able to work and receive disability benefits.
For those who are able to work, fibromyalgia can still reduce productivity and can lower the quality of life, making things that were once enjoyable difficult because of the pain and fatigue that occurs due to the syndrome.
The pain can limit a person’s ability to be active and can cause people to withdraw from activities and social life. Fibromyalgia flare-ups are brought on by stress, and can also be brought on by depression and isolation. A cycle of pain and isolation can occur.
Many health problems are more common in people with fibromyalgia. It’s not known if fibromyalgia causes these diseases, if they cause fibromyalgia, or if another explanation exists. However, being aware of these related diseases could help you identify symptoms and distinguish between fibromyalgia and another underlying disorder.
The following related diseases are more common in people with fibromyalgia:
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- irritable bowel syndrome
- tension headaches
- endometriosis, which is a female reproductive disorder
- lupus, which is an autoimmune disease
- rheumatoid arthritis
- restless leg syndrome
Distinguishing between fibromyalgia and these related diseases will help you to identify and treat the condition causing the symptoms.
Some activities that can help treat the pain of fibromyalgia and improve your overall health include:
- reducing stress
- getting adequate sleep
- maintaining a healthy diet
- getting regular moderate exercise
Many people with fibromyalgia also have depression. Some people think that both depression and fibromyalgia have some biological and psychological similarities. If so, this means one will likely accompany the other. About 90 percent of people with fibromyalgia have the symptoms of depression. The isolation and pain that often go with this disorder can lead to depression. Additionally, some doctors still hold the belief that this syndrome isn’t a real illness and is a combination of several symptoms brought on by stress and that it’s “all in your head,” which can also lead to depression.
Therapy can help people with fibromyalgia cope with depression. One-on-one sessions can help you understand what’s going on with your body and how your thoughts may affect your health. Support groups are also helpful and can help you identify with others who have the condition and relieve feelings of solitude.
Although a cure for fibromyalgia isn’t available, treatment aims to manage pain and flare-ups. In some cases, treatment can reduce pain gradually. Treatment can involve:
- pain medication
- physical therapy
- cognitive therapy
- alternative medicines
If you’re experiencing symptoms from a related disease, it’s important to see your doctor for a complete diagnosis to properly treat fibromyalgia or another underlying condition.
Most people with fibromyalgia find the greatest improvement of the condition in finding a good symptom management plan. This could include a combination of medications and alternative treatments, or therapy to teach you how to cope with the psychological effects of the disorder.
Whatever your symptoms and severity of your condition, many treatment options can help you live a healthy and fulfilling life. Be sure to see your doctor to come up with the best treatment plan for you.