Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by pain and numbness in the muscles and soft tissues of the human body. It is also characterized by fatigue. While it has its own inherent symptoms, this condition is often misdiagnosed due to the commonness of its signs and symptoms. As of this writing, its causes are yet undetermined but there are some conditions that are linked to this disorder.
Statistics show that out of 50 Americans, one is diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Today, that data translates to roughly three to six million Americans. This disorder affects individuals aged 20 to 50 years old, and majority of the individuals affected with it are women. This occurrence will even more likely to happen especially for women with family members who have also previously suffered the same condition.
Signs and Symptoms of the Condition
When does an individual know that he is suffering from fibromyalgia? With the onset of fibromyalgia, the most telltale sign is pain, which can either range from mild to severe or chronic pain. It lasts for days or even months on end. The pain that the individual feels may be a nagging and numbing pain, but there are also instances when he feels a burning sensation on the area affected. Some of the most common body parts that are afflicted with pain include: the elbows, neck, chest, back, buttocks, knees, shoulders, rib cage, thighs, and shins. The pain starts in these areas, and once the condition progresses, it then spreads to other areas too. And although the joints may also feel painful, these body parts are never affected by the condition.
This fibromyalgia symptom usually alleviates during daytime and gets worse in the evening. However, this may not apply to all individuals suffering the condition because there are also those who suffer the pain all throughout the day. At times, the pain worsens with anxiety and stress, and even a cold weather or physical activity can trigger it.
Aside from pain, other fibromyalgia symptoms that an individual can experience include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome/incontinence;
- Short-term and long-term memory issues;
- Tingling sensation of the skin;
- Oversensitivity to cold/heat;
- Abdominal pain;
- Dryness in the facial area especially the mouth and eyes;
- Incapacity to concentrate;
- Limb weakness and extended muscle spasms;
- Persistent sleep disturbance.
Probable Causes of the Condition
Fibromyalgia is a mysterious condition for its exact causes are still unknown. However, medical researchers and investigators believe that this condition may be caused by a combination of several factors. Here are some of the
Causes of fibromyalgia
Heredity – research on the role of genetics as one of the underlying causes of fibromyalgia has shown promising evidence. Although the mode with which the condition is passed from one family member to another is unknown, there is a certain gene that increases the risk of fibromyalgia.
Emotional stress – stress, depression, and even fatigue can lead to fibromyalgia. Although there is no direct link involving emotional stress and fibromyalgia, there are some theories as to its connection.
Sleep disorders – when an individual is suffering from insomnia, his serotonin levels are low. This hormone regulates pain sensitivity. Thus, when its levels are low, the body is more sensitive to pain, leading to muscle tenderness that is an inherent symptom of fibromyalgia.
Lifestyle – researchers have also considered the possibility that an unhealthy lifestyle can also increase the risk of an individual to develop fibromyalgia. Smoking, drinking, an overweight body, and lack of regular exercise can increase its likelihood.
Diagnosis of the Condition
An accurate diagnosis of fibromyalgia could mean appropriate pain management and a better quality of life despite all the debilitating symptoms. On the other hand, making an accurate diagnosis of the condition can be quite tricky because of the ordinary pain disorder that it presents. This could also be the reason why some patients do not get the appropriate treatment for their condition.
When an individual suspects that he is suffering from this condition, it is critical that he find a doctor who is adept at the latest research and treatment of the condition. Therefore, researching on the best healthcare provider to address your problem is paramount.
Once the right medical practitioner is found, the individual needs to discuss his condition along with the symptoms plaguing him. Additionally, the physician will conduct physical examination and laboratory tests to fully determine that you have fibromyalgia.
Being diagnosed with fibromyalgia doesn’t mean that one has to live like a hermit and give up the things he wants to do. It simply means being able to adjust to certain routines in one’s life to accommodate for the added treatments and strategies to address the condition. A comprehensive treatment approach to fibromyalgia includes medications, sleep management strategies, exercise, and alternative treatments to ensure that the condition is addressed properly.