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Health and Fitness News

Fibro Facts

What you need to know about the painful condition of fibromyalgia.

You feel pain all over your body, you can’t concentrate on what you’re doing, and you feel tired all the time, even after a good night’s rest. Symptoms like this may signal fibromyalgia syndrome, also known as fibro or FMS. As of yet there’s no cure, but there are medications and lifestyle modifications available to help ease the symptoms of this difficult disease.

It’s common to think that a condition like fibromyalgia is all in someone’s head or that someone who complains of constant pain is only seeking access to pain medications, but fibromyalgia is a genuine medical condition suffered by millions around the world.

To clear up any misunderstanding about fibromyalgia, here are a few facts you need to know.

Widespread Pain

To be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, the pain must be ongoing for at least three months. The pain of fibro may be described as a dull, sharp, or throbbing pain that occurs on both sides of the upper and lower body. While it may feel similar to the pain of osteoarthritis or tendinitis, fibromyalgia pain is felt all over the body. It may come and go and feel worse when pressure is applied to certain tender points around the body.

It’s normal for you to wake up in the morning still feeling tired if you’re living with fibromyalgia. Simple, everyday tasks like grocery shopping or house cleaning become overwhelming. Pain disrupts your sleep and you may also deal with sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome. You feel like you’re living in a fog, a symptom so common it is referred to as “fibro fog.” When this sets in, you can’t focus on mental tasks or remember details like you once did.

In addition to pain, sleep problems, and brain fog, fibro may cause you to experience headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, morning stiffness, tingling or swelling in your hands and feet, painful bladder conditions, anxiety, depression, painful menstrual cramps, or temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ).

Origins

Currently, there’s no known cause of fibromyalgia. What is known is that for some reason, the brain undergoes changes and begins producing more brain chemicals that signal pain. This causes pain signals to be amplified, hence the ongoing battle against pain.

The onset of the disease seems to be a combination of factors convening, and the condition runs in families. If one of your parents have the disease, you’re more likely to develop it as well. In addition to a family history of the disease, fibromyalgia can be triggered by physical or emotional trauma. Research has found that you’re more likely to develop the disorder following a car accident, a serious illness, or the death of a loved one. Additionally, women are much more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men.

Is There Help?

Because the symptoms of fibromyalgia are similar to various other medical problems such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism, and polymyalgia rheumatica, it can be difficult to diagnose. There are no specific tests available to pinpoint the condition, which forces your physician to make a diagnosis based solely on symptoms and medical history.

Though tough to be diagnosed, an appropriate diagnosis can set you on the path to pain relief. While there’s no cure, proper medications and lifestyle changes can improve your quality of life. Pain medications, antidepressants, moist heat, physical therapy, relaxation techniques, stress management, and regular exercise can all play a part in relieving symptoms. Work closely with your doctor or team of doctors to develop a treatment plan that’s best for you.