The chronic disorder fibromyalgia (FM) is known for widespread pain throughout the entire body, including muscles and bones. It is also accompanied by tenderness and extreme exhaustion. These types of symptoms are considered subjective, meaning there isn’t a clear reason they occur. Fibromyalgia is often misdiagnosed. Some doctors don’t recognize it as a real condition, but that is becoming less and less common as more people are suffering from it. Because some doctors do not recognize it as real, according to the Mayo Clinic, this can increase your risk of depression due to lack of proper diagnosis.
Part of the problem with recognizing FM as a real condition is that there are few tests to confirm or deny its existence. However, researchers are coming closer and closer to understanding it, causing the stigma surrounding it disappear. Previously, doctors were concerned that some would use this undetectable illness to unnecessarily seek out prescription pain medications. However, pain medication is not effective in caring for fibromyalgia. Doctors are now suggesting lifestyle changes in order to manage fibromyalgia the most effectively.
If you suffer from fibromyalgia, you are familiar with tender points or trigger points on the body. These are places on your body where even a gentle touch can inflict pain. In the past, these points were used to diagnose FM, however, that is not the case today. But they are used to narrow down the list of possible diagnosis. This, along with other consistent symptoms and possible medical tests, is used to determine if you are suffering from FM.
You must experience pain, described as a constant dull ache affecting multiple areas of your entire body for at least 3 months to be diagnosed. Other symptoms include:
- Problems sleeping
- Extreme exhaustion
- Inability to focus or pay attention
- Pain or an aching feeling in the lower abdomen
- Problems sleeping for long amounts of time
- Waking feeling unrefreshed
Symptoms of fibromyalgia result from the brain and nerves misrepresenting or overreacting to pain signals. There may be a chemical imbalance that causes this.
The pain of fibromyalgia is located in the joints, muscles, and tendons of the body and is located on both sides of the body and both upper and lower vicinities. It is a dull ache that can worsen with strenuous exercise. Pain has also been described as throbbing, shooting, or burning accompanied by numbness and tingling in the limbs. It seems to be worse in frequently used muscles like those in the hands, feet, and legs. Stiffness may be quite common. Some people find the pain more severe when they first get up in the morning, and it seems to improve during the day but worsens at night.
Tender points are the spots on the body that react severely when touched. This may be a small amount of pressure. The pain may even be felt in different areas of the body far away from the points touched. There are nine specific areas associated with fibromyalgia:
- Both sides of the hips
- Insides of both knees
- Both sides of the back of the head
- Both sides of the neck
- Shoulder blades
- The top of each shoulder
- Both sides of the upper chest
- The outside of each elbow
In addition to pain and tender points, extreme exhaustion and “fibro fog” are quite common with fibromyalgia. Fibro fog is a term given to the difficulty associated with concentrating and remembering information. It can also be difficult to follow someone’s conversation. This can interfere with your ability to work and perform routine activities, especially when combined with the extreme fatigue associated with this condition.
Heart Disease and Fibromyalgia
Researchers in Taiwan have found that FM patients have a higher risk of heart disease. They theorize that this may be due to genetics or greater health problems due to fibromyalgia. As of now, it has only been discovered there is a connection between fibromyalgia and heart disease, not that one causes the other.
Women are more prone to developing fibromyalgia than men are, and women have different symptoms when it comes to heart disease. This may be a reason why heart conditions in women go undiagnosed. Since fibromyalgia on its own is still not really understood, other ailments and conditions often go undetected.
A separate study indicated that those with FM have been seen to be at a higher risk for stroke. Age was seen to be the have the highest impact on whether or not one had a stroke. Interestingly, the link between stroke and fibromyalgia had the biggest impact on younger rather than older patients.
There are a number of reasons for this to occur. For one thing, when you feel bad, you are less likely to engage in exercise, which can lead to weight gain, raise your blood pressure and cholesterol, and increase inflammation.
Tips for improving heart health while suffering from FM:
- Massage therapy can slow down your heart rate
- Stress reduction can ease heart-related problems
- Develop a regular sleep routine
- Do some light exercise every day such as biking, swimming, or walking
- Care for your mental health by working to control depression and anxiety
Getting Upper Cervical Care Helps with Fibromyalgia
There has been a link seen between a misalignment in the bones of the upper cervical spine and the increase in symptoms or even the onset of fibromyalgia. This has to do with the stress that is placed on the brainstem when a misalignment is present in either the C1 or C2 vertebra. This leads to improper signals being sent to the brain. If the brainstem tells the brain there is pain when there is actually little or no pain, fibromyalgia can ensue.
We use a gentle method with our patients to help the neck bones to realign. This does not inflict further pain and encourages the bones to move into place without the need to pop or crack the back or spine. Once corrected, many report seeing an improvement in their symptoms of fibromyalgia.