Fibromyalgia & Lupus National Association

Chronic Pain

What kind of pain is caused by fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is generally accepted as a type of arthritis, but, unlike most forms of arthritis, it typically affects the muscles in your body instead of the joints. This muscle pain caused by fibromyalgia is usually widespread and can occur anywhere at any time.

Fibromyalgia pain affects the skeletal muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the body. Pain can also be felt in the bursa, the sacs that surround your joints providing nutrition and lubrication needed for movement. Sometimes, pain can be localized in particular areas, although most fibromyalgia sufferers will experience pain in all four quadrants of the body.


Fibromyalgia Tender Points

All fibromyalgia sufferers also feel pain in various parts for their body called “tender points”. In order to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, you must experience pain in at least 11 of 18 specific tender points. Tender points tend to be located at areas in the body where muscles and tendons join together. In particular, fibromyalgia sufferers are apt to feel neck pain, shoulder pain, lower back pack and pain in the waist, ribs, buttocks, and knees.




                                                                     

What does Fibromyalgia Pain Feel Like?

The muscle pains of fibromyalgia can be quite excruciating for some people, however, the pain will vary depending upon the severity of your illness. Some people may only suffer from mild pain and will still be able to continue on with a normal lifestyle. Others will experience much more severe pain. Fibromyalgia disability is becoming common.

Fibromyalgia pain is described as a deep and persistent ache although many sufferers also get stabbing, throbbing, and shooting pains in their muscles. Additionally, pains caused by the syndrome can leave a tingling or burning feeling just under the skin. Often, pains will increase in severity over the course of the day, and can migrate to other places on the body.


What Causes Fibromyalgia Pain?

Even physicians have had trouble truly understanding fibromyalgia. The causes of fibromyalgia pain have long been debated. Many see fibromyalgia as a psychological illness, not one caused by a physical problem. However, recent fibromyalgia research has shown that pain may be caused by a biological problem in the brain.

Those who have fibromyalgia actually have a much lower threshold for pain than those who don't have fibromyalgia. This means that even a gentle touch could cause excruciating pain in someone with fibromyalgia. Recent studies show that it only takes half of the stimulus normally necessary to produce pain signals in the brains of fibromyalgia sufferers.

This lowered pain threshold is probably caused by a miscommunication somewhere in the brain. For instance, when you touch something that is hot, nerves in your hands and arms send off pulses that travel to your brain. Fibromyalgia sufferers actually experience a change in this signal once it reaches the base of the spinal cord. Here, the pain signals are actually magnified, causing extreme and chronic pain.

 

Factors that Affect Pain

The pain associated with fibromyalgia can come and go and it will change in intensity. There are a variety of factors that may make your pain worse:

         ·         exercise

         ·         fatigue

         ·         poor nutrition

         ·         hormorne fluctuations

         ·         changing weather

         ·         stress

         ·         depression


Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MFP) and Fibromyalgia

Some fibromyalgia sufferers also experience an additional syndrome, called myofascial pain syndrome. Your body is held together by fascia, a connective tissue that surrounds everything inside of you, including your bones, muscles, and blood vessels. Those with myofascial pain syndrome experience chronic pain in their fascia, particularly at certain trigger points in their bodies. These trigger points tend to be located at points where the fascia connects directly with a muscle. Myofascial pain can be stabbing, throbbing, or aching, and, at its most severe, debilitating.


Temperomandibular Joint Pain

Those suffering from fibromyalgia sometimes experience severe pain in their temperomandibular joint. This joint, which is commonly referred to as the jawbone, can cause severe pain and discomfort including:

          ·         severe and persistent headaches

          ·         jaw clicking

          ·         a locked jaw

          ·         difficulty opening and closing the mouth


More than 75% of fibromyalgia patients suffer from some type of TMJD, and this often exacerbates existing fibromyalgia pain

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