Fibromyalgia is a chronic musculoskeletal disorder accompanied by pain, fatigue, tenderness, memory, and mood issues throughout your body. Formerly it is called fibrositis. Often it is considered as a type of arthritis disorder. But like arthritis and similar conditions, it doesn’t damage your joints, muscles, and other tissues.
People with this condition have severe pain; often, this feeling is expressed as a constant muscle ache. It’s not a progressive disease.
Some experts consider fibromyalgia can increase painful sensations by altering the functions of painful and non-painful signals processed by your brain and spinal cord.
Researchers are working hard to find a permanent cure for fibromyalgia. However, various treatment options are available to provide relief from symptoms and to improve the quality of your life.
Signs & Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Often the symptoms begin after physical or emotional events like injuries, surgery, infections, illness, or a stressful life event.
The significant symptoms of fibromyalgia are:
- Widespread pain – pain linked with fibromyalgia is usually described as pain that lasts for at least 3 months. You may feel that pain spreads your entire body. Certain parts like the neck and back feel more particularly painful.
- Fatigue – People with this condition frequently awake tired, even though they have had enough sleep.
- Patients with fibromyalgia tend to have sleeping disorders like restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
- Cognitive difficulties are commonly called “fibro fog,” which reduces your ability to focus and concentrate on mental tasks.
- Numbness and tingling sensation in your hands and feet
- Sensitivity to bright lights or loud noises
- sensitivity to cold or heat
- tingling and numbness in the hands and feet
- Digestive problems
- Dryness in eyes or mouth
Often fibromyalgia can co-exist with some other health conditions, such as:
- Irritable bowel syndrome(IBS)
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
- Postural tachycardia syndrome
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Bladder problems like interstitial cystitis
- Temporomandibular joint disorders
- Anxiety, stress
Symptoms can develop in a person at any time during his lifetime, but commonly it is reported in people of age around 45 years. In people with this condition, the brain and nerves might overreact even to normal pain signals due to imbalanced chemical reactions in the brain or abnormality in the dorsal root ganglion. Fibromyalgia tends to affect even your emotions and energy level.
Causes and Risk Factors of Fibromyalgia
Many researchers say that recurrent nerve stimulation might change the functions of the brain and spinal cord in people suffering from fibromyalgia. This change tends to increase certain chemical levels abnormally in your brain responsible for pain signals.
People with fibromyalgia might feel the pain originating from a specific area of their body, but actually, it originates in their brains, particularly from the central nervous system.
Many factors might lead to these changes, which include:
- Genetics might also be a cause because fibromyalgia is likely to run in families; specific genetic changes make you more vulnerable to develop the condition.
- Certain infections like flu, pneumonia, and GI infections might trigger or aggravate fibromyalgia.
- Physical or emotional trauma can sometimes trigger fibromyalgia. It is also connected with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Prolonged psychological stress leads to hormonal changes, which might result in fibromyalgia.
Risk factors causing fibromyalgia
Some other factors that might put you at more risk of developing fibromyalgia are:
Gender – Fibromyalgia is most commonly diagnosed in women compared to men, but the reason isn’t clear why it causes.
Age – increasing, especially people of middle age are most likely to be affected. However, fibromyalgia can also develop in children.
Family history – If any of your family members has this condition, then you are at greater risk for it.
Disease – Although fibromyalgia is not related to arthritis, having lupus or Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) might make you more vulnerable to develop fibromyalgia.