Millions of Americans are affected by fibromyalgia, a mysterious debilitating disorder. It is a condition categorized by widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue. Some researchers believe that this disorder affects how the brain processes pain signals, which can increase painful sensations. It affects an estimated 10 million people, mainly women, in the United States alone.
While doctors are not sure what exactly causes fibromyalgia, they do believe it to be a combination of a few key factors. As it seems to run in families, many doctors believe genetics and family history may make a person more likely to develop fibromyalgia. In addition, some infections and illnesses seem to either trigger or exacerbate the condition. Some cases of emotional or physical trauma have also been linked to fibromyalgia cases.
Fibromyalgia causes widespread pain that is typically described as a dull ache that never stops. For a pain to be considered widespread, it must occur both above and below the waist, on both sides of the body. People who suffer from fibromyalgia also complain of waking up tired, even after sleeping for 9-10 hours each night. Their sleep is often disturbed by pain and other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome.
Many people who have fibromyalgia report suffering from cognitive difficulties as well, often referred to as “fibro fog.” This limits their ability to focus, concentrate on mental tasks, and pay attention. Depression and headaches are also experienced by people with fibromyalgia.
While there is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, there are various treatments used to decrease pain and help avoid triggers that can aggravate the symptoms. Many fibromyalgia sufferers will use a combination of treatment options. Some medications that are used include analgesics (pain killers), over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen (Advil), or prescription strength (tramadol). Some doctors will also prescribe anti-seizure medications called anticonvulsants; these calm overactive nerves and change the way pain is transmitted to brain.
In addition, sleep aids, trigger point injections, and antidepressants may be utilized to help ease symptoms felt from fibromyalgia. Doctors also advise patients to eat healthy, exercise regularly, decrease caffeine intake, and stick to a regular sleep pattern. Stress reduction practices will not only help with the anxiety and depression often attributed to fibromyalgia, but also help reduce some pain.
Certain aggravating factors can make the symptoms of fibromyalgia come and go, or change without reason. Other conditions may also make you feel worse. Trust the doctors at the Florida Spine Institute will help you learn what these factors are so that together we can work on more effective treatment strategies.