04 Dec What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia has been a difficult disease to understand for those in the medical community. Oftentimes, the cause is not understood, and therefore, it can be difficult to find a cure or treatment plan. Patients suffering from fibromyalgia typically feel some form of pain throughout their musculoskeletal system, and they suffer from fatigue, sleep problems or memory and mood issues. The disease is not fully understood. However, those in the scientific and medical communities believe fibromyalgia works by changing the way the brain process pain to amplify painful sensations.
Many people report fibromyalgia after some form of trauma to the body. This can mean some form of injury, surgery, infection, or even stress psychologically. However, there are reported cases of fibromyalgia that occurred without any accompanying injury or stress. The tell-tale signs of fibromyalgia include widespread pain (meaning on both sides of the body and above and below the waist), fatigue, and constant brain fog or difficulty concentrating. In addition, patients suffering from fibromyalgia often suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, interstitial cystitis, or TMJ.
While the exact cause of fibromyalgia is not understood, there have been some patterns present in those suffering from the disease. Fibromyalgia can run in families, meaning genetics may play a part. In addition, infections or some kind of physical, emotional, or psychological trauma are present in the onset of many fibromyalgia cases. In addition, women are more affected by the disease than men are. Scientists believe fibromyalgia results from some kind of chemical change in the brain. Brain receptors are believed to develop a sort of pain memory, thus making them even more reactive to a painful stimulus. This changes the way the person interprets pain.
The biggest complications due to fibromyalgia include poor sleep and a lack of ability to function while performing day to day activities. This can, in turn, lead to depression and anxiety. Because the disease is not fully understood, there is not an exact diagnosis method for the disease. Those people who have experienced widespread pain for more than three months, with no other potential underlying cause may be diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
Treatment is as much of a mystery as the diagnosis is. Many treatments for fibromyalgia require trial and error. Over the counter pain relievers are typically recommended in place of narcotics because narcotics can lead to dependence, and can end up increasing pain if used for a long period of time. In addition, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs have shown to be effective in easing pain and fatigue. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and counseling are recommended when medication is not effective.
Fibromyalgia is a very difficult condition to live with because it is not understood. Many people living with fibromyalgia may feel disheartened because it seems as though there is no cure or understanding of what is happening in their bodies. Fortunately, stem cell therapy has shown some promise in helping those suffering from fibromyalgia. However, until the disease is better understood, it is difficult for physicians to put together effective treatment plans.