Fibromyalgia – It’s not in your head, the pain in your body is real
Why it hurts when you have fibromyalgia
Researchers believe that repeated nerve stimulation causes changes in brain activity among people with fibromyalgia. These changes involve an abnormal increase in the levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain (neurotransmitters). In addition, brain pain receptors appear to develop a kind of pain memory and become more sensitive, which means they can overreact to pain signals.
Causes of fibromyalgia
The causes are not completely known. It has been observed that many patients with fibromyalgia have the onset of symptoms after a traumatic physical event or mental stress.
Experts believe that fibromyalgia most likely involves a variety of factors that work together:
- Genetics. Because fibromyalgia tends to occur in families, there may be certain genetic mutations that may make you more susceptible to the disorder;
- Sex. Fibromyalgia is diagnosed more often in women than in men;
- Infections. Some diseases seem to trigger or aggravate fibromyalgia;
- Physical or emotional disorders. Fibromyalgia can sometimes be triggered by a physical trauma, such as a car accident. Psychological stress can also trigger the condition.
Fibromyalgia is often difficult to diagnose if symptoms vary considerably and may have other causes. Symptoms may be similar to other conditions, such as underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) or autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
The symptomatic picture is varied, complex and non-specific, comprising mostly generalized chronic pain, being felt by the patient in the muscles or bony protrusions.
Treatment of fibromyalgia
There is no specific treatment for fibromyalgia, in which case the goal of treatment is to reduce symptoms and improve health. An important role in the treatment of fibromyalgia belongs to the patient himself. He must adopt a new, healthy lifestyle, thus trying to avoid stress, to allocate enough time to rest and sleep, to continue or start an exercise program. Non-pharmacological methods include: graded exercise, hydrokinetic therapy, relaxation techniques, physiotherapy, massage, psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
For pain control, painkillers are used and antidepressants can be used for fatigue.
In general, fibromyalgia is a chronic, long-term disease without curative treatment. Studies have shown that treatment can significantly improve the symptoms and secondary quality of life of these patients.
A variety of different therapies can help reduce the effect that fibromyalgia has on your body and your life. Examples include:
- Physical therapy. A physical therapist can improve your strength, flexibility and endurance. Exercises in water could be especially helpful;
- Occupational therapy. An occupational therapist can help you adapt your work area or the way you perform certain tasks that will cause less stress on your body;
- Counseling. Talking to a psychologist can help you strengthen your beliefs and learn strategies to deal with stressful situations.
Based on science: