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What Is Fibromyalgia?


What Is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) are the most common causes of chronic muscular pain and exhaustion. Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes extensive musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and sleep, cognitive and mood problems.

Fibromyalgia is thought to disrupt the way the brain processes pain signals, causing pain to be amplified. Myofascial pain syndrome is a variant of fibromyalgia that shares many symptoms with the disease.

MPS is defined by localized pain in regional muscle groups, such as the jaw, neck, or lower back, whereas fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread pain across the body.

In MPS, a few tender trigger points in the muscles can cause localized discomfort. They can also result in referred pain. Fibromyalgia is linked to a variety of tender sites that are more widespread. Tender points are different from trigger points because they do not induce transferred pain.

Tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), anxiety, and depression are common in people with fibromyalgia.

Although fibromyalgia and MPS are chronic illnesses with no cure, several therapy options can help alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life.


What are the symptoms and signs of fibromyalgia?

The following symptoms are common among people with fibromyalgia:

  • Pain: For at least three months, the pain is persistent and dull. The discomfort can be felt all over the body, on both sides, and below and above the waist.
  • Fatigue: Fibromyalgia patients are usually exhausted, and they may wake up tired despite sleeping for a long time. The pain may keep you awake at night. Other sleep abnormalities, such as restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea, are also present in the patients (temporary cessation of breathing during sleep).
  • Problems with cognition: This condition is also called “fibro fog.” The ability to focus and pay attention to mental work is hindered by fibromyalgia.


What causes fibromyalgia?

Several factors have been discovered to play a role in fibromyalgia development. These may include the following:

  • Genetics: It has been discovered that fibromyalgia and MPS run in families. Certain genetic mutations may raise the likelihood of getting the illness.
  • Infections. Certain systemic disorders have been linked to the onset or exacerbation of the condition.
  • Suffering from physical or emotional trauma. Acute psychological stress or physical trauma, such as an accident, can sometimes trigger fibromyalgia and MPS.

The risk factors for fibromyalgia are

  • Women are more likely to suffer from fibromyalgia and MPS than men.
  • A family history of fibromyalgia increases the risk of getting affected.
  • Other diseases, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus, can make you more vulnerable.


What triggers fibromyalgia symptoms?

There may be no discernible trigger in most cases.  Acute psychological stress, physical trauma, surgery or other systemic infections can all trigger symptoms.


What are the treatment options  for fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia treatment options include:

  • Analgesics. Symptoms can be relieved with over-the-counter pain medicines, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), and prescription pain treatments. Narcotics are rarely used because they can develop addiction and exacerbate pain over time.
  • Antidepressants. Antidepressants and muscle relaxants, such as duloxetine (Cymbalta) or milnacipran (Savella), may be administered to alleviate pain and exhaustion associated with fibromyalgia.
  • Anti-epileptic drugs. Certain types of pain may benefit from medications used to treat epilepsy.
  • Physical and occupational therapy. Exercises that enhance strength, flexibility, and stamina can be taught by a physical therapist. Water-based exercises could be especially beneficial.
  • Occupational therapy services. An occupational therapist can assist you to make changes to your work environment or the way you do specific duties to reduce stress on your body.
  • Stress reduction. In the therapy of fibromyalgia, managing physical and emotional stress is critical. Deep-breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation can aid with stress management. It may be necessary to seek professional counseling from a therapist.
  • Getting enough rest. Because fatigue is a common symptom of fibromyalgia, getting enough rest and maintaining good sleep hygiene are prudent.
  • Diet and exercise. Exercise can increase pain at first, but it gradually reduces pain when done regularly. Walking, swimming, biking, water aerobics, yoga, and dance are examples of exercises. To manage fibromyalgia, a physical therapist can help develop an exercise plan, as well as eat a good, balanced diet and minimize caffeine use.


What happens if fibromyalgia is left untreated?

Fibromyalgia is typically not life-threatening but can negatively impact your quality of life. The illnesses cause pain, weariness, and a lack of sleep, which can make it difficult to operate at home or work.

Patients may become disappointed because of their illness, which can lead to anxiety or despair. These problems can be controlled with the right treatment.


How are fibromyalgia and Lyme linked?

Intense pain and muscle aches, headaches, cognitive difficulties (such as brain fog and memory lapses), neurological issues, depression, anxiety, and unremitting exhaustion are signs of Lyme disease. These are similar to fibromyalgia. However, many may be unaware of how widespread Lyme disease is. Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the world. 

Lyme disease has symptoms that are similar to fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (myalgic encephalomyelitis), rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis (MS), as well as psychiatric disorders including sadness and anxiety. These similarities can result in misdiagnosis.

If one has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, they may have been tested for Lyme disease as well before the doctor ruled out the possibility of fibromyalgia. If the test came back negative, it does not mean you don't have Lyme disease because the blood test for Lyme disease was found to be unreliable.

About 56 percent of Lyme disease tested negative. For fibromyalgia patients, this suggests that a certain number of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia may have Lyme disease.

If you suspect you have Lyme disease, it is strongly advised to consult a doctor and schedule any necessary tests.

The pathogen, Borrelia burgdorferi, which is the cause of Lyme disease, can cause fibromyalgia. However, several other pathogens can trigger fibromyalgia.