If you’re tired, have trouble sleeping or remembering, or struggle with high or low moods, it may not just be caused by stress at school, work or home. If these continue indefinitely and interfere with daily chores, you may be experiencing the first signs of a disorder known as fibromyalgia.
WHAT IS FIBROMYALGIA?
“Fibromyalgia is a common neurologic health problem that causes widespread pain and tenderness (sensitivity to touch). The pain and tenderness tend to come and go and move about the body. Most often, people with this chronic (long-term) illness are fatigued (very tired) and have sleep problems. The diagnosis can be made with a careful examination.”
Fibromyalgia is a condition most common in women, though it can happen in men. It mostly begins in middle adulthood.
WHO GETS FIBROMYALGIA?
Fibromyalgia impacts as many as four million Americans older than 18. The average age range when the condition is diagnosed is between 35 and 45 years old, but most people have experienced symptoms, particularly chronic pain, much earlier in their lives. Fibromyalgia is more widespread in women than in men. There’s no definitive relationship between specific hormones and the condition, but scientists have observed some possible solid connections with premenstrual syndrome and primary dysmenorrhea.
THE SYMPTOMS OF FIBROMYALGIA
People who suffer from fibromyalgia or another chronic pain condition can relieve symptoms in many ways. Certain kinds of therapy have been known to help, but research has also uncovered intriguing evidence that ketamine treatment may relieve symptoms, also.
The primary symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
- Pervasive discomfort. The pain related to fibromyalgia often is described as a dull ache that has persisted for a minimum of three months. To be deemed widespread, the pain must happen on both sides of the body and above and below the waistline.
- Tiredness. People experiencing fibromyalgia often wake up tired, even though they describe sleeping for long stretches of time. Sleep is frequently disrupted by pain, and many people with fibromyalgia suffer other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome.
- Cognitive problems. A symptom sometimes described as “fibro fog” weakens your means to focus, pay attention, and concentrate on cognitive tasks.
Fibromyalgia often is accompanied by conditions, such as:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Interstitial cystitis (painful bladder syndrome)
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Migraine and other kinds of headaches
- Postural tachycardia syndrome
- Temporomandibular joint ailments
It’s also important to understand what triggers a fibromyalgia attack. This can include certain things which trigger fibromyalgia symptoms, especially ones that boost the level of stress. These include:
- Adjustments in daily routines.
- Dietary adjustments or a poor diet.
- Hormone fluxes.
- Loss of sleep.
- Stressors like work, illness, emotional stress.
- Therapy changes.
- Change in sleep habits (like different shift work).
- Weather or temperature shifts.
POSSIBLE RISK FACTORS
Because it’s more common in women than men, women should be aware of certain risks. The condition is more likely in people who:
- Are overweight
- Have another rheumatic condition, like rheumatoid arthritis
- Have a close relative with fibromyalgia, indicating a gene or genes may trigger pain when it normally wouldn’t happen.
- Have or had trauma to the brain or spinal cord, caused by an emotional trauma, injury or repeated injuries, ailments, or an accident.
Here are some strategies for living with fibromyalgia:
- Ask your doctor or therapist about the benefits of ketamine treatment.
- Find time to relax every day. Meditation and deep-breathing exercises will help lower the stress which can trigger symptoms.
- Establish a consistent sleep pattern by going to bed and rising at the same time every day. Getting enough sleep allows your body to repair itself, mentally and physically. Also, resist daytime napping and limit caffeine, which can disturb sleep. Nicotine is a known stimulant, so patients with sleep trouble should quit smoking.
- Exercise regularly. This is an important component of therapy. While hard at first, regular exercise often lowers fatigue and pain symptoms. Patients should track the saying, “Start low, go slow.” Gradually add daily exercise to your schedule. For instance, use the stairs rather than the elevator, or use a far-away parking spot at the store. As your symptoms decline with therapy, start boosting your activity. Add in some walking, water aerobics, swimming, and/or stretching workouts, and start doing things that you avoided because of the pain and other symptoms. It takes time to build a comfortable routine.
- Educate yourself by checking in with organizations like the Arthritis Foundation and the National Fibromyalgia Association or elsewhere online for valuable information.
- Look to the future, not the past, rather than focusing on what caused your illness.
If you’re looking for more information on treatment options and coping methods for fibromyalgia, contact us today to learn more!