Fibromyalgia & Lupus National Association

Exclusive care for you

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a mouth full to say, large word to pronounce and comes as a large diagnosis, the proper pronunciation is fy-bro-my-AL-ja . Many people including those in the medical community have not a clue as to what fibromyalgia is; especially how it affects the body.  However it is a chronic wide spread medical disorder that causes pain, fatigue, sleep disturbance, and joint stiffness. This debilitating complex chronic pain disorder is suspected to affect an estimated 10 million Americans, including children, men, women and all ethnic backgrounds.  Unfortunately, those who suffer from fibromyalgia with severe symptoms can be extremely debilitating and interfere with simple daily activities. 

Fibromyalgia is recognized by the American College of Rheumatoid and US National Institutes of Health. An accurate diagnoses includes a wide spread of consistent pain for a minimum of three months. Pain that would be experienced would be in 11 to 18 tender points when pressure is applied. Additionally, doctors will conduct other exams to rule out other possible conditions. Patients may experience:

Pain areas: in the muscles, abdomen, back, or neck
Pain types: can be chronic, diffuse, sharp, or severe
Pain circumstances: can occur at any time of the morning, day or night
Gastrointestinal: constipation, nausea, or passing excessive amounts of gas
Whole body: fatigue, feeling tired, or malaise
Muscular: muscle tenderness, delayed onset muscle soreness, or muscle spasms
Sensory: pins and needles, sensitivity to cold, or sensitivity to pain
Mood: anxiety, mood swings, or nervousness
Cognitive: forgetfulness or lack of concentration
Hand: sensation of coldness or tingling
Also common: acute episodes (more in mild cases), depression, difficulty falling asleep, headache, irritability, joint stiffness, painful menstruation, or tingling feet

Causes of Fibromyalgia:

Physical and emotional trauma: can aggravate and even bring on fibromyalgia such as a car accident, traumatic experience, injury, and/or stress.

Genetics: Researchers believe that fibromyalgia is hereditary between mothers and children. While research is still learning more about the genetics of fibromyalgia it is known that fibromyalgia does exist in immediate family members. 

Infections: Some illnesses such as the flu, pneumonia, bladder and kidney infections, and Epstein-Barr virus just to mention a few will aggravate fibromyalgia and prolong your healing process and quite possibly increase your pain. 

All of these things can trigger and awaken fibromyalgia. There are many theories about fibromyalgia and researchers are working to figure out factually information related to fibromyalgia. According to the American College of Rheumatoid it is believed by researchers that repeated nerve stimulation causes the brains of people with fibromyalgia to change. This change involves an abnormal increase in levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain (neurotransmitters). In addition, the brain's pain receptors seem to develop a sort of memory of the pain and become more sensitive, meaning they can overreact to pain signals. This is believed as to why fibromyalgia patients feel chronic pain.

Treatment of Fibromyalgia:

The federal drug administration (FDA) has approved three drugs Lyrica (pregabalin) approved June 21, 2007, Cymbalta (duloxetine HCl) approved June 2008, Savella (milnacipran HCl) approved January 2009. Nevertheless there are host of other medications doctors use to help fibromyalgia patients.  Please note there are several other drugs that your doctor may use to help ease the daily chronic pain you may feel. Fibromyalgia does affect everyone differently and no two cases are alike. Therefore your treatment plan will be different than others. 

There are alternative therapies that may help with easing fibromyalgia pain, such as light massages, acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal supplements, natural oils, warm water exercises and yoga. These therapies can be effective tools in managing fibromyalgia symptoms and maintaining your quality of life. Other areas that may be helpful and supportive for fibromyalgia patients can include, increasing rest, pacing activities, reducing stress, practicing relaxation and improving nutrition.

All of these therapies can be rewarding in the sense of helping to ease the pain, memory loss, restorative sleep, muscle twitching, and other related conditions of fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is beginning to take the widely known fact that it affects either are or can become debilitating. While it doesn't cause organ or muscle damage it still doesn't take away the fact that you hurt everyday sometimes all day. It is important to know that yes fibromyalgia is indeed painful, however you can have a productive life with family and friends by having a positive outlook on your life and learning how to self pace yourself.     

Cognitive Loss:

The term "fibro fog" is universally known to people with fibromyalgia. The phrase reflects the difficulty that you may have in completing once-familiar tasks such as remembering names and dates, keeping appointments, balancing your checkbook or processing your thoughts. Called "cognitive dysfunction" or "cognitive impairment," this inability to recall information can be extremely frustrating. Symptoms may come and go or be continuous, making school or work difficult or even impossible in extreme cases. Having both illnesses fibromyalgia and lupus are even more likely to experience cognitive problems.
You and Fibromyalgia:

As previously stated it is definitely possible to have a healthy and productive life with fibromyalgia. It will require for you to change your current lifestyle and make things easier on yourself, and most importantly a positive and winning attitude. One thing you have to remember is, you will have bad days and good days. When the good days come, take it easy, don't try and cram everything you can possibly think of into one day. This defeats it's purpose of a "good day".  You still have to take it easy and not allow yourself to over do it and place yourself in a situation with numerous bad days. When bad days arise it is imperative that you rest, and take it easy with your body. Accept that your body has changed and you have to change your mindset with it.  Teach yourself to be gentle with you, if you don't you'll end up in prolonged pain and agony. We can't express the importantance to take care of yourself. The medication and exercise alone can’t fix everything. As a fibro fighter you have to take charge of your life and fight like a butterfly!