Are you suffering from fibromyalgia? Do you know what it is?
Fibromyalgia literally means pain in muscles. It is a common muscular disorder that leads to chronic pain in the muscles.
It also leads to headache, sleep problems, memory problems, fatigue, depression, mood change issues and many more. It is a progressive and not a degenerative disorder.
On May 17, 2015 the America Pain Society reported the neurological basis of fibromyalgia. It stated that fibromyalgia is the second most common rheumatoid disorder and is widely misunderstood.
It also said that fibromyalgia is a lifelong central system disorder that leads to amplified pain in the body of the sufferer.
What are your chances to get affected with fibromyalgia?
Researches have proved that there is a high risk of developing fibromyalgia if
- The person has a family history of the disease.
- The person is exposed to any traumatic situation or events such as accidents, illness, etc.
- The person suffering with other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and other types of arthritis.
- Being women
Fibromyalgia can occur to people of all ages. It also affects children. Fibromyalgia appearing at adolescences is termed as Juvenile Primary Fibromyalgia that occurs typically after age 13 and peaks at age 14. This is not so common and the symptoms are similar to that found in the adults.
Women are more prone to this disease than the men. Nine out of ten patients of fibromyalgia are women. Generally, this disease is diagnosed in people in their middle age.
Causes of the Disease
All the causes of the fibromyalgia is unknown till date. Some of the events that trigger the disease are physical injury, trauma (physical and emotional) and other illness.
Experiencing Sleep Discontinuity? Here’s the reason why.
Sleep disturbance is very common in patients suffering with this disorder. Chronic sleep disturbance referred as Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) is found in individual with fibromyalgia.
In this disorder the patient has involuntarily contraction in the leg muscles for 20-40 seconds that disrupts the sleep. Many individuals not suffering with the disease have also reported pain in leg very similar to that in fibromyalgia that disrupts the sleep.
This is different from that in the normal individual because fibromyalgia patients have frequent sleep problems known as Cyclic Alternating Sleep Pattern (CAP).
Various studies have proved that PLMD and CAP are related to each other. Women also have breathing problems that cause sleep disruption.
How hormone imbalance related to the symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
Various research has found a relation between abnormalities in hormone system and the symptoms of the disease.
Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal gland (HAP) axis controls various important functions such as sleep, stress and depression.
Any change in this axis causes lower production of hormones such as norepinephrine and cortisol. Lower levels of these stress hormones cause impaired responses to stress (physical and emotional).
Is fibromyalgia, a hereditary disease?
Yes, it is a hereditary disease but it is not directly passed from parents to their children. Any person that has someone in his family suffering from this disease, is most likely to get the disease as compared to a person who has no family history of fibromyalgia.
This does not mean that each individual suffering with the disease has inherited the disease.
Various studies have proved the link between genes and fibromyalgia. In 1989, a study conducted by the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation proved that there is a strong connection between heredity and fibromyalgia.
In this study it was found that 52 percent of people who had siblings and parents suffering with the disorder also had the symptoms of the disease but were not diagnosed with the disease (Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, January 1989;70(1):61-3).
Various genetic studies have been conducted in the family members and individual suffering with the disease or having the symptoms.
These studies clearly indicate that there are several genes that make up the disease and found to run down the family history.
These genes are linked with neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, etc and some genes are involved in general brain function such as opioids and cannabinoids.
Serotonin is an important chemical messenger of the nervous system found in the brain and other parts of the body. It is very important in maintaining the stress level in the body and well-being of an individual.
Lower serotonin levels have been found in patients suffering with fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia may worsen Suddenly-This is called Fibromyalgia Flares
Worsening of fibromyalgia (Fibromyalgia Flare) is nothing but worsening of its symptoms. There will be more pain in the muscles, frequent memory loss, poor sleep, loss of concentration due to severe and continuous pain, etc. Sometimes the symptoms worsen very rapidly but it varies from one person to another.
Fibromyalgia flare is not a permanent condition. It may last for two days to a week or few months. There are certain situations or events that flare up fibromyalgia.
It is very important to identify these events and to avoid it if possible. Anything that leads to increased stress, lack of sleep, continuous travel, etc can flare up the disease.
If these conditions are avoided or well managed the flare ups can be minimized to great extent. In case of women, the hormonal changes also trigger up the flares during menstrual cycles and during menopauses.
Some researches show that flare ups can be due to certain environmental factors such as change of food or toxicity due to food.
How is Fibromyalgia classified?
Fibromyalgia has been classified into two types by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) in 1990 depending on the points of pain.
Category A: Here the pain is widespread for at least 3 months. The pain is located at both sides of the body, throughout the spine length and above and below the waist.
Category B: Pain occurring at various specific areas called as tender points. Tender points are located in different parts of the body such as below the collarbone, in the neck above the collarbone, below the waist, kneecaps, etc.
Is it Fibromyalgia or something else?
Since there are no diagnostic tests for fibromyalgia, similar conditions are also mistaken with fibromyalgia. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia share similar symptoms and often confused with each other.
Some physicians consider fibromyalgia as an extreme form of CFS. Both the diseases are closely related to each other but in CFS there is less muscular pain.
Another disease that might be confused with fibromyalgia is Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS). In MPS, pain is at trigger points only and not generalized pain all over the body. Trigger points are small lumps found in the tight muscles.
Feeling Depressed due to the Intense Pain of Fibromyalgia?
Patient suffering with fibromyalgia suffer from intense pain either in the whole body or at tender points. The pain is very depressing and the day to day quality life of the person starts to deteriorate.
The individual has difficulty in doing daily activities and always feel depressed. Most of them quit their jobs due to constant pain and fatigue.
How is Fibromyalgia treated?
There is no definite medication and treatment of this disease. The treatment is still unknown as the actual reason of the disease is still a mystery.
Physicians do give some pain killers to normalize the intensity of the pain but it is nothing to do with the actual problem. FDA approved pain killers such as pregabalin and duloxetine have shown to reduce the pain.
The American Pain Society Fibromyalgia Panel recommended combination approach to treat the disease that includes education, medication, cognitive behavior therapy and exercise.
Exercises, meditations and stress management techniques are some non-drug therapies that can help in controlling the symptoms of the disease. Medicine is only given to cope up with the intense pain.
Patient education programs encourage the patient to have a positive approach towards the disease and are important in the treatment plan.
There are various alternatives to get relieve from the pain that may include acupuncture and injections at tender points. Acupuncture has been found to be helpful for some patients but not recommended by all.
It might provide relief if done accurately but might not benefit every individual. Similarly tender point injections may benefit some patients.
Is your cabinet full of vitamin supplements?
Various studies till date, has confirmed that vitamin supplements do not cure the disease, fibromyalgia. Studies concluded that vitamin C and E when combined with exercise lowers the level of oxidative stress in the patient but do not treat the disease. Vitamin D3 is also known to lower the pain of fibromyalgia.
Researches are still going on for this disease on the fronts like gene hunt responsible for the disease development, non- drug treatment to relieve pain, etc.
The American Friends of Tel Aviv University in July 2015 reported that women with fibromyalgia were very much relieved by the hyperbaric oxygen treatment.
This study also revealed that the disruption of the brain mechanism for processing pain is the primary factor that causes fibromyalgia.
Similar study was also conducted by Rice university in June, 2015. This study also supported the fact that women suffering from fibromyalgia can be benefitted by hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatment.