Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterised by widespread pain in multiple joints and muscles throughout the body. Individuals with fibromyalgia often experience sleep disturbances, fatigue, mood issues, and memory problems. Researchers believe that the condition amplifies painful sensations by affecting the brain’s processing of pain signals.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Onset and Triggers
Symptoms of fibromyalgia may arise after physical trauma, infection, surgery, or significant psychological stress. In some cases, symptoms develop gradually over time without a clear triggering event. Women are more prone to developing fibromyalgia, and many sufferers also experience temporomandibular joint (jaw) disorders, tension headaches, anxiety, depression, and irritable bowel syndrome.
There is ongoing debate in the medical community regarding the validity of fibromyalgia as a distinct condition. Some doctors question its status, suggesting it may be a diagnosis of exclusion when no alternative explanation is found. However, this diagnosis can provide relief to individuals by offering an explanation for their pain, even when the underlying cause remains unknown. Many individuals with fibromyalgia may have underlying psychological or psychosomatic conditions or may have experienced prior mental trauma. Addressing any childhood or growing-year issues is essential for a comprehensive approach to management.
Muscles are enveloped by fascia, a connective tissue that influences muscle contraction and stretch. Fascia also serves as a pathway for blood vessels and nerves. In fibromyalgia, prolonged pathological hypertonicity in muscles causes the fascia to tense, compressing muscle fibres, blood vessels, and nerve tissue. This compression initiates fibro myositis, where continual muscle tension strains tendons and muscles, leading to inflammation.
Chronic inflammation results in calcium deposits within muscles and tendons, contributing to fibro myositis. This persistent inflammation triggers secondary changes in neurotransmitter activities and levels within the central nervous system, often manifesting after the patient experiences chronic pain.
Understanding the complex interplay of factors in fibromyalgia, including physical and psychological components, is crucial for a holistic approach to management.
Treatment Approaches and How Lincs Injury Can Help You
- Tylenol can help alleviate stiffness and pain associated with fibromyalgia. Its effectiveness varies among individuals.
- Ultram, with or without Tylenol, may be recommended.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen or naproxen can be taken in conjunction with other medications.
- Cymbalta and Savella can relieve pain and fatigue related to fibromyalgia.
- Prozac may be prescribed to improve sleep.
- Amitriptyline, a commonly prescribed antidepressant, is often initiated at low dosages.
- Anti-Seizure Drugs:
- Medications designed for epilepsy, such as pregabalin and gabapentin, can help reduce nerve pain and overall body pain.
- Neurontin may be beneficial in reducing fibromyalgia symptoms.
- Psychological Therapy:
- Counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be beneficial. Addressing previous mental trauma or psychological distress, often associated with fibromyalgia sufferers, can significantly improve coping mechanisms and reduce pain sensitivity.
- Physical Therapy:
- While not curative, physical therapy offers significant relief. Sports massage, joint mobilisation, and acupuncture help reduce muscle tension and knots, providing pain relief.
- Therapists can motivate patients, teach management techniques, and provide home exercises.
- Family History: Having a family member with fibromyalgia increases the likelihood of developing the condition.
- Rheumatic Diseases: Those with rheumatic diseases are more susceptible to fibromyalgia.
- Gender Differences: Women are more prone to developing fibromyalgia, possibly influenced by female reproductive hormones.
- Illness Triggers: Certain illnesses can trigger or exacerbate fibromyalgia symptoms.