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Let’s Talk About: Fibromyalgia Syndrome

Let’s Talk About: Fibromyalgia Syndrome

Fibromyalgia Syndrome is one of the pinnacles of invisible illnesses, with specialists arguing over whether it is a temporary or permanent illness. What they do agree on, though, is the symptoms. Fibromyalgia (FMS) is characterized by a general, dull ache, in the body that lasts for more than three months.

It generally causes pain around the joints and tender nerve areas; you know, those places that kids used to dig their fingers into for ‘horse bites’. These spots include the base of the neck, all the way down your body to your Achilles heel. There are about 18 of these down the body, moving in parallel. The image a bit further down shows you a few, but there are many more that radiate pain. 

My doctor always writes in my references that I am a ‘fairly classic case’ of Chronic Pain, and once I did some research, I realized he wasn’t wrong. With RSD – now called CRPS – is a usual precursor to fibromyalgia syndrome. Any kind of pain or trauma can fit this description, as can a period of ongoing illnesses, or the development of something like chronic fatigue syndrome. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, Fibromyalgia Syndrome is characterized by ‘widespread musculoskeletal pain’ and is accompanied by issues with fatigue and sleep, as well memory and mood problems. Mostly, Fibromyalgia Syndrome affects muscle and tissue in the body, but can also put strain on cognitive function, as well as joints, bones and internal functions, such as the immune system. 

Many researchers believe that the core issue of Fibromyalgia Syndrome is that is ‘amplifies’ painful sensations within the body; it does this by affecting the way in which your brain processes pain signals. Hence, the concept of ‘just pushing through’ – something which sufferers are told constantly – causes more negative side effects than positive ones. By pushing through, sufferers are desensitizing the nerves to pain, henceforth making the body send more and more pain signals until you can’t go on anymore. 

Fibromyalgia Tension points

Many researchers believe that the core issue of Fibromyalgia Syndrome is that is ‘amplifies’ painful sensations within the body; it does this by affecting the way in which your brain processes pain signals. Hence, the concept of ‘just pushing through’ – something which sufferers are told constantly – causes more negative side effects than positive ones. By pushing through, sufferers are desensitizing the nerves to pain, henceforth making the body send more and more pain signals until you can’t go on anymore. 

The biggest question I had was ‘why am I in pain’? And the answer is, no one knows. It’s easy to write off other types of pain into that category. So here is a table for your use of what Fibromyalgia is, and isn’t.

What Fibromyalgia Syndrome is

What Fibromyalgia Syndrome isn’t

Widespread, constant pain

Severe abdominal bloating

Pain that accumulates around joints and muscles

Chronic Migraines

Pain in ‘pressure points’ of the body

Anything to do with your menstrual system

Distinct sharp pain, anywhere

Generally, Fibromyalgia Syndrome often co-exists with other painful and generally chronic conditions such as IBS, a tendency towards chronic migraines, joint disorders and of course, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

In a recent interview, Lady Gaga revealed that she was postponing the European leg of her Joanne tour due to trauma and chronic pain, something which has shone a light on the illness overall. WebMD has a great interview on it here 

While talking about this though, I do want to stress: the best way to cope with Fibromyalgia Syndrome is an across the board approach, that includes pacing your everyday activities. There is a lot of research being put into finding a cause, but all of that ‘this one ingredient will cure your Fibromyalgia Syndrome’ crap on Pinterest is just that – crap. (I do have a post coming up about natural remedies, so stay tuned!) Having said that, though I might be an unbeliever, however, if it works for you, then it works for you.

Theories of Fibromyalgia Syndrome Causes

Researchers from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor have previously theorized that those who have fibromyalgia syndrome may potentially have lower nerve fiber density and that therefore the illness is evidence of small nerve fiber neuropathy. https://www.chironexus.net/2014/05/fibromyalgia-new-theory-causes-disorder/

The Fibromyalgia Syndrome center states that causes can include heredity, accidents and injuries, infections, autoimmune disorders or psychological and emotional stress.

http://www.fibrocenter.com/fibromyalgia-causes

New Life Outlook suggests that potentially, the cause is dysfunctional mitochondria; that is, the ‘power plants’ of cells in the body are unable to produce the amount of energy to continue to carry out normal cellular function. https://fibromyalgia.newlifeoutlook.com/found-cause-fibromyalgia/

The thing about fibromyalgia syndrome is that, like most invisible illnesses, there is no definitive test that says ‘yes you have FMS!’ My chronic pain specialist always tells me it’s trial and error, as fibromyalgia syndrome is most likely a blanket term for several types of pain illnesses we don’t know about yet. Though these theories give a small amount explanation, no evidence has surfaced yet with a definitive conclusion.

The Fibro Manual by Ginevra Liptan

In treating Fibromyalgia Syndrome, a multi-modal approach is generally the best.

Wherever you go, there will always be a website suggesting a number of solutions;

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can be useful for reducing any severe mood or depressive disorder symptoms
  • antidepressants, prescribed by a GP or psychiatrist, can also rebalance neurochemicals that could be disruptive moods
  • Occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and osteopathic specialists can assist with physical pain and muscle tension
  • Chronic pain specialists can diagnose and treat the overall pain issues
  • Rheumatologists, who deal primarily with arthritis treatments, can help with any inflammatory issues in the joints
  • Dietitians may assist in any stomach issues, such as IBS
  • Neurologists or sleep specialists can assist with sleep issues

The book opposite, by D. Ginevra Liptan, another Fibromyalgia Syndrome, all of the above is explained with much more medical stuff. If you’re looking for more information, I would suggest getting, reading and turning this book into your bible. Clicking on the image will take you to the webpage.

Credit: http://stillpain.com/theories-of-fibromyalgia/

For more information, go to http://www.fmaware.org/

 




The Pacific Blonde, 2017