Fibromyalgia is a chronic, widespread musculoskeletal pain disorder that affects an estimated 4 million American adults every year. If left untreated, fibromyalgia can lead to severe physical impairment, psychological distress, and reduced quality of life.
But did you know that fibromyalgia can also cause neuropathic pain? In this blog post, we’ll explore the link between fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a complex condition that affects multiple parts of the body. It is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, cognitive issues (also known as “fibro fog”), headaches, and other symptoms.
While there is no single cause of fibromyalgia, genetics, as well as physical and psychological stress, are some of the leading culprits. Although the exact mechanism behind the development of fibromyalgia is still not fully understood, research suggests that it may be caused by changes in the way the brain processes pain signals from the body.
What is Neuropathic Pain?
Neuropathic pain is a type of chronic pain caused by nerve damage or dysfunction. It can result from disease, injury, infection, or physical trauma. The most common symptoms of neuropathic pain include burning sensations (often described as “pins and needles”), numbness or tingling sensations in the affected area, shooting pains or sharp jabs in extremities (such as legs or arms), and pain that comes from non-painful stimuli.
Does Fibromyalgia Cause Nerve Pain?
Previously, fibromyalgia was considered a form of chronic pain. However, in 2011, the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) excluded the condition from being a chronic pain diagnosis.
But still, fibromyalgia is often accompanied by neuropathy or pain with neuropathic characteristics. This is because fibromyalgia is associated with changes in the way the central nervous system processes pain signals from the body, leading to a heightened perception of pain. This can also result in pain with neuropathic characteristics.
Some experts also believe that psychological factors could contribute to neuropathic pain in fibromyalgia; the emotional distress that comes from living with chronic pain can interfere with brain chemistry and lead to over-sensitization of the nervous system to pain (central sensitization).
How is Fibromyalgia Treated?
There is no cure for fibromyalgia. However, there are some proven treatments that can help manage the symptoms and improve quality of life. Treatment plans are typically tailored to the needs of each individual patient and may include medications, such as anti-inflammatory drugs and antidepressants; exercise; physical therapy; psychological therapy; and stress reduction techniques.
Ketamine IV therapy is another promising alternative treatment for fibromyalgia, as well as neuropathic pain. This novel treatment involves the administration of low-dose ketamine infusions using an IV line and can help rapidly reduce pain and improve mood in fibromyalgia patients.
The Bottom Line
Fibromyalgia causes changes in the way the brain processes and perceives pain, which may result in neuropathic pain. While this can significantly worsen the symptoms of fibromyalgia, there are some effective treatment options available to help manage the pain and improve quality of life.
If you think you may be suffering from fibromyalgia or neuropathic pain, it’s important to seek professional help for proper diagnosis and treatment. With the right treatment and care, you can regain control of your life and find relief from your pain.