Just what is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain. Many people can get confused about the actual meaning of a fibromyalgia diagnosis, thinking it is simply a ‘catchall’ type of diagnosis. This is not actually true. For example, rheumatoid arthritis is distinguished from other types of arthritis because of its specific symptoms. Fibromyalgia, however, is a syndrome, which means it has a specific set of symptoms that the person experiences as well as specific signs that a health care practitioner can identify. Learn from top health experts about the key factors behind fibromyalgia, the disorders
1 Trick To Fibromyalgia
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potentially linked to it and more with these resources today:
Fibromyalgia is a specific, non-degenerative, chronic, non-inflammatory, non-progressive, true systemic pain condition. Disorders potentially linked to fibromyalgia include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia and symptoms than are men. The symptoms of fibromyalgia frequently begin following a physical trauma, infection, surgery or a significant psychological stress. In some situations, the symptoms gradually accumulate over time and do not have a single triggering event. Many people who are diagnosed with fibromyalgia also have temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ), tension headaches, anxiety, depression and/or irritable bowel syndrome. The symptoms of fibromyalgia include: widespread pain, which is typically described as a continuous, dull ache that has lasted for three months. In order for the pain to be considered widespread, it must occur on both sides of the body as well as above and below the waist. Fatigue is a common symptom for those diagnosed with fibromyalgia. People with fibromyalgia often wake up tired, even after sleeping for long periods of time and their sleep is frequently disrupted by pain. Other sleep disorders have been noted as well, such as sleep apnea and/or restless legs syndrome. Another significant symptom is cognitive difficulties, which is often referred to as “fibro fog” as it impairs the ability to pay attention, focus and concentrate on mental tasks. Also depression, headaches, cramping and pain in their lower abdomen have been known to occur.
It has not been determined what the exact cause of fibromyalgia is, but many health professionals believe it involves a variety of different factors working together. Some of the factors include; genetics, because fibromyalgia often runs in families, an infection may trigger or aggravate fibromyalgia and/or a physical or emotional trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, which is been linked to fibromyalgia. There are number of theories relating to why fibromyalgia causes pain. For example, some researchers have reported that repeated nerve stimulations cause the brain of someone with fibromyalgia to change. The change involves an abnormal increase in the level of the neurotransmitters that signal pain to the brain. Also, the pain receptors in the brain appear to develop a type of memory of the pain, which it becomes more sensitive to, meaning it can lead to an overreaction of pain signals.
Key Factors Behind Fibromyalgia
The risk factors for fibromyalgia typically include; being a woman, having a relative also diagnosed with fibromyalgia and if you have a rheumatic disease, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. It is often difficult to diagnose fibromyalgia and many people often go years before a diagnosis is made. Doctors previously checked 18 specific points on your body to see how many points were painful when firm pressure was applied. The current guidelines for diagnosing fibromyalgia no longer require this type of exam, instead the diagnosis can be made if you have had widespread pain for greater than three months and without an underlying medical condition that may be the cause of your pain. There are no specific lab tests that can be done to confirm the diagnosis of fibromyalgia, however, your doctor may run a variety of tests to rule out any other conditions that may have similar symptoms. For example, a blood test is typically done to check your complete blood count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate and thyroid function.
In general, treatments for fibromyalgia include both medication and self-care. The emphasis is on minimizing symptoms and improving general health. No one treatment works for all symptoms.
There are a variety of medications that may be prescribed to help relieve the pain associated with fibromyalgia and to help improve sleep patterns. Some of the common types of medications include: over-the-counter pain relievers or your physician may prescribe pain relievers, such as tramadol. A narcotic is not usually prescribed for alleviating the pain of fibromyalgia because they can often lead to a dependence on the medication and may worsen the pain over time. Antidepressants are sometimes prescribed to help lower the fatigue and pain that is associated with fibromyalgia and anti-seizure medications may occasionally be prescribed to help reduce certain types of pain.
Many people who suffer with fibromyalgia find relieve for the pain as well as management for their stress, through alternative therapies. Some of the most common alternative therapies used to treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia include; massage therapy, meditation and or yoga. One of the most important things you can do to help relieve the symptoms of fibromyalgia is self-care. Self-care is essential to help avoid stress, overexertion and fatigue. It is critical that you get enough sleep, because fatigue is one of the primary symptoms of fibromyalgia. Regular exercise will help to decrease the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Daily exercise, such as stretching, walking, bicycling and swimming are excellent ways to help reduce your pain as well as help you sleep better at night. Although it is important to avoid overexertion, it is important to remain at least moderately active. You should also maintain a healthy lifestyle, which includes eating healthy, limiting your daily intake of caffeine and avoiding tobacco and alcohol.
For those suffering with fibromyalgia, the lack of sleep and the pain often interferes with the ability to function while at home or at work. Along with the fatigue and pain associated with fibromyalgia, you may also have to deal with the frustration that accompanies the disorder, because it is such a misunderstood diagnosis. This frustration many people feel may lead to anxiety and/or depression. So, it is essential to educate yourself on the disorder, which makes it helpful to provide your friends and family with more information about your diagnosis. There is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, but certain medications are often beneficial in helping to control the symptoms. It is also beneficial to recognize the fact that you are not alone. There are a number of organizations, such as the American Chronic Pain Association and the National Fibromyalgia Association that can help connect you with others who are experiencing the same problems and that will understand what you are going through.
I have fibro and its not easy to live with, specially since Doctor’s treat you like you are crazy, Somedays I feel like I have been hit by a semi truck, a dull ache everywhere, just keeps moving around, its hurt’s to be touched, poked or tickled. It’s not easy living with this disease, and I don’t want to take pain medications because they can do more harm than good, so for me, I have to be careful how much I do, know my limits, I found a 3 foot heating pad that is my best friend, hot baths every day with Epson salt. Try to not get my legs cold, not stand on hard surfaces for any length of time. changed all my shoes out. No more heals! Even certain fabric can hurt my skin, I have to be careful with that. So basically this disease really sucks, But I have tried to find ways to make it livable since it’s not curable. Kelly
As this year comes to a close, I would like to reflect on this past years events, feelings and New Years resolutions. To begin with the starting of the support group I hope has been such a gift to the members as much as to myself. The support group some days larger some days smaller groups but it seems even if it’s just a few, it was meant to be just the few of us. The biggest gift is the understanding that we all are experiencing different and some of the same symptoms, and we are all feeling alone in this disease. I have also had the gift of getting to know the other side from the spouses on what they go through, which has helped me in my own life. I have also learned the lack of communication between Doctors is our biggest hurdle and lack of public recognition of this disease with family, friends, co workers and the general public. Example: If I share I have a Vestibular dysfunction autoimmune disease, people will say “oh” and continue there own conversation, If I said I had a broken leg, MS or cancer, the response would be completely different. Not because people are rude but because people don’t understand or have never heard of this disease.
This year has been has been extremely difficult for me, My symptoms worsened, I am disabled and yet I am so grateful that I am still mobile and have my family to help me when needed. The biggest change in my health has been the visual changes on a regular basis and my drop attacks ( I fall with out any notification) There is no bracing yourself, or putting your arm up for protection, I just do it, end up where ever I fall, then instantly want to throw up. Then I feel so tired, like I can’t get up, function, takes me a day or so to recover, forget the bruising, knots on the head or sore body, it’s the cognitive and fatigue that is the hardest to recover from, almost feels like getting run over by a truck. But I feel I am still trying to learn my limits and if I push them I pay. But for me, the support group has become my safe place, my place I can be my self, say how I really feel and cry if I need to with out any judgement.
This next year my goal is to increase the group size even just a little, write letters to all the Doctors involved in our care explaining what patients with our illness go through and need from them. I would like to establish a newsletter to send to them on a regular basis, I would like to raise awareness about Vestibular dysfunction as much as a I can. I would also like to continue having some speakers for different aspects of our disease, we know there is no cure, but just to help us understand what’s happening to us. To provide support and education for us. I also want so desperately to make Doctors to understand the depression aspect of our disease.
On a personal level, I have to still adjust to the new me and hope I can accept this person and learn to love this person with out guilt of who I use to be, the guilt of not being able to participate in every function, or do more than I can or even contribute as much as I use to. This is the hardest hurdle for me. So I am looking forward to 2016. I am hoping trying so hard to be happy with me.
I would like to share some of my own personal experiences with depression, Depression itself is a illness, there are so many reasons people experience depression, you can have the genetic predisposition for depression, but there can be so many other reasons, When someone expresses they are depressed or feel depressed, please take them seriously. I have experienced depression on and off for the past 10 years, I know my depression is part of my illness, feeling alone with a illness just in itself, having to say good bye to who I was and Hello to who I am. I can’t do the things that I use to do. But I have yet to have one Doctor ask me, how I am handling my illness. Life experiences can cause depression maybe not at the time you are experiencing it but one thing on top of each other can cause the depression to hit you with out even realizing it. Isolation can create depression, Not all medications work for everyone, or not everyone chooses to take medications, but it does seem to be a Doctors first choice, But I do know for me personally , exercise, meditation, my oasis, but everyone’s depression is different and at different severity.But they need support from their family, friends and to talk to their Doctor to decide what the best treatment
Invisible illnesses are just as it sounds invisible, You can’t see them, no obvious symptoms to the naked eye. That being said, living with a invisible illness is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Not only living with the daily symptoms, but living with the unknown. Will I be able to attend the function on Monday? Will I be able to drive to my Doctor’s appointment on Tuesday? What if I get lost? What if I have a attack? What If I have a drop attack? I always carry my medication with me and a bottle of water as if it were a security blanket. Is it really going to help in this situation? No , but it makes me feel better. I only will allow my self to drive 3 or so miles and I have to feel better than normal to drive, so its not on a regular basis, I have to have some one drive me places, which makes me feel bad. My sensory system is in such overload, lights, patterns on carpets, wallpaper, crazy bright colors really bother me. I can’t handle music even though I am deaf in one ear and going deaf in the other, it causes confusion in my brain. A lot of people in one area cause confusion. You loose friends and your co-workers or family members question your illness? I have never actually wanted anyone to have my disease which is autoimmune disease, Vestibular dysfunction, deafness, fibromyalgsia, extreme fatigue. But at the same time If they could experience it for one day, maybe they would understand. Invisible illnesses are not easy to diagnose or treat and most are not curable, I use to hope this MRI is going to show a tumor that can be removed and I will have my life back and that is just not the case, I am meditating which can be a challenge in itself, with all the noise in my head and spinning, eye pain, ear pain. It’s depressing, but I had to take a new approach to my disease and not let it define me, also had to think of this as a gift! Am I crazy? Yes I look at this as a gift to understand what others are going through and trying to help them through there journey. I know it sounds strange, Yes I wish I was healthy but until a miracle happens I can help others. If any of you are dealing with this world, talk to me, I can try to help you if not support you in your journey.
Have a wonderful Saturday, Kelly
Chronic pain and tinnitus, the incessant ear ringing that affects up to 30 percent of the adult population, may share a common source, new research shows. The finding may bring millions of people who suffer from both conditions a step closer to finding relief.
A study published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences found the “phantom pain” in both disorders often begins as a response to an injury, but continues when a faulty “circuit breaker” in the brain is unable to properly process the pain or noise.
Josef Rauschecker, director of the Laboratory for Integrative Neuroscience and Cognition at GUMC and one of the study’s authors, said the discovery is good news for those affected by both conditions. As of now, neither have direct treatments.
“The next step is ‘how could this be used for finding a cure?’” he said. “That is of course the challenge, but we are hoping to make some progress in the next 5-10 years.”
Rauschecker said brain imaging studies of tinnitus patients showed the condition was related to higher cognitive and affective brain systems. Meanwhile, separate researchers discovered the same mechanism was involved in chronic pain. Neuroscientists at Georgetown University Medical Center and Germany’s Technische Universität München brought the research together for this paper, published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
“This is an amazingly rare occurrence of two fields independently coming to the same conclusion,” Rauschecker said.
In the study, researchers traced stimuli through the brain using MRI technology. They compared tinnitus patients with those who did not have tinnitus and found volume loss in the medial prefrontal cortex, an area that plays a role in the limbic system and functions as a “gate” or control area for noise and pain signals that is also associated with depression.
“We expected to find changes in the auditory system, but what really stood out was this significant volume loss in this part of the mPFC,” he said. “This is an area that also lights up when you play unpleasant noises, so it has to do with unpleasant sensations. It was not expected to see something there, but it fit well with previous findings.”
They found the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens are part of a “gatekeeping” system that determines which sounds or other stimuli to admit. When the system is defective, affected patients can be subjected to constant stimuli and long-lasting disturbances.
The area is also associated with depression and anxiety, conditions often arise “in lockstep” with chronic pain. Because of this, the researchers are now looking to drugs that regulate that system, like dopamine and serotonin, to restore the gatekeeping role and eliminate the chronic pain, but more research is needed.
“These are disorders that affect us every day, and many millions have them but we won’t be able to cure them unless we understand how they work,” Rauschecker said.
I have always worked in my life, Proud of being being able to raise my kids and live our life the way we did, we hadn’t gone to Disney land, or drove a fancy car, but we had a home, home made food, nothing out of a box, the boys were in Soccer, Karate, Swimming, cub scouts, and boy scouts, Our house was the neighborhood house, I loved having all the kids at our house, although our house wasn’t 3000 square feet it was home and nice home, and although we couldn’t really vacation , we camped in the back yard and used a tent trailer in the front yard and made up vacations in our imagination, food and house decorations to match the vacation, I worked in the hair business for a while before realizing it wasn’t coming from my heart, so I started working in the medical field, first in the operating room then Labor and delivery then 15 years at a Dr’s office and I loved my job, it didn’t feel like work to me, I was doing what I was meant to do. I believed in everything The Dr I worked for did, I really believed his first interest was the patients. My loyalty will always be there. But my illness took that away from me, how devastating that was to me to give up what I believe was meant to do. But with employers it comes down to, you become a liability, there afraid you are going to make mistakes, although there wasn’t any made. The comments said behind your back about working with a employee with a disability was heart crushing to me, Co workers I thought that were my friends, my family and I came home from work the last 6 months crying every day because of how I was being treated by a particular employee at my job, she made me feel so bad about myself and I was allowing her to make me sicker and sicker and my husband said there is no job worth this. I thought about it and he was right, I was loyal for 15 years and my intention was to retire when the Doctor did, but this particular employee did everything she could to make my life a living hell. The Doctor didn’t want to hear it, so I went to a disability attorney and found out my rights and found out I could sue due to her behavior, her discriminating words not only against me but applicants for jobs, but I didn’t want to hurt the Doctor or the practice or keep the negativity in my life. She was toxic and broken and I couldn’t let her treat me that way anymore, so I left. It was the best decision I ever made. Although I am still sick I don’t have that added stress and toxicity in my life. My job was for the patients, and that’s why they liked me and felt safe with me, they knew I would take care of them. But most patients are on my facebook page and keep in contact. When I run into patients they hug me and tell me how much they miss me and the office isn’t the same with out me. So I know I made a impact and now my heart is to help others with invisible illnesses. So i am still doing my hearts work just in a different way. My support group is awesome and when we share our tears and we share our stories, I know I am on the right road. Kelly