What is Fibromyalgia?
It is a chronic condition that affects many. A great number of persons experience stiffness and pains in the muscles; however, in doing tests and x-rays, measurable findings aren’t necessarily apparent. It doesn’t cause damage to body organs or joints but does impact on the quality of life one experiences. And who’s at greatest risk of contracting this disease? Unfortunately we are! Women, especially between 25 to 60 years old, are as much as 10 times more likely to develop the condition than men.
It is yet to be determined what is the actual cause or causes of this disease. Theories of the causes are still to be confirmed. Most experts agree that fibromyalgia probably results from a combination of factors, rather than a single cause.
Symptoms consistent with this condition are:
• Tender points
• Anxiety or depression
• Muscle pains
• Sleep problems
These exist in specific locations on the body. When pressed, persons experience pain, whereas other persons only feel pressure.
After pain, the most common and debilitating symptom of fibromyalgia is fatigue. This is not the normal tiredness that follows a busy day, but a lingering feeling of exhaustion. People with fibromyalgia may feel tired first thing in the morning, even after hours spent in bed. The fatigue may be worse on some days than others and can interfere with work, physical activity, and other routine duties.
A number of people with fibromyalgia also have major depression when they are diagnosed. It is assumed that the depression may be a result of the chronic pain and fatigue. Abnormalities in brain chemistry may also lead to both depression and an unusual sensitivity to pain. There is sometimes difficulty concentrating and a sense of hopelessness.
An important first step is identifying what makes your symptoms worse. Common triggers include:
• Cold or humid weather
• Too much or too little physical activity
• Poor sleep.
Stress appears to be one of the most common triggers of fibromyalgia flare-ups. While it’s impossible to eliminate all stress from your life, you can try to reduce unnecessary stress. You should determine which situations make you anxious — at home and at work — and find ways to improve or minimise them. Experiment with yoga, meditation, or other relaxation techniques, and allow yourself to skip nonessential activities that give rise to stress.
Impact on Daily Life
Constantly fighting pain and fatigue can make people irritable, anxious, and depressed. You may have trouble staying on task at work, taking care of children, or keeping up with household chores. Exercise or hobbies such as gardening may seem daunting. Exhaustion and irritability can also lead to missing out on visits with friends. Fortunately, there are effective treatments that help many patients get back to the activities they enjoy.
Fibromyalgia was once the exclusive domain of rheumatologists. Today, the condition has captured the attention of a wide range of health care providers. Many people receive treatment through their primary care providers. Check with your practitioner for a solution.
The goal of fibromyalgia treatment is to minimise pain, sleep disturbances, and mood disorders. There are over the counter drugs along with a range of prescription drugs like Cymbalta and Lyrica.
Exercises can alleviate some symptoms. Just three times a week has also been shown to relieve fatigue and depression. But it’s important not to overdo it. Walking, stretching, and water aerobics are good forms of exercise as well.
Certain foods can worsen symptoms in some people. But avoiding some foods won’t help everyone. Monitor your intake to know what works best for you.
Some research suggests massage may help relieve fibromyalgia pain, though its value has not been fully proven.
With Swedish massage, the therapist uses a system of long strokes, kneading, and friction techniques. Utilising this type of massage allows for the more superficial layers of the muscles to be reached.
Aromatherapy oils may also be used to facilitate the stroking and kneading of the body, thereby stimulating your metabolism and circulation. The massage therapist would apply pressure, and rub the muscles in the same direction as the flow of blood returning to the heart.
Deep tissue massage is another therapy that may be helpful for those with fibromyalgia. The reason is that greater pressure is exerted than with the Swedish massage. In so doing, the deep layers of muscle are targeted.
You could get considerable relief using electrical therapy. Sometimes pain relief lasts from hours to days. If yours is a difficult pain case, electrical therapy may not completely relieve your pain, but it should reduce your pain level and the amount of pain medication you need.
Does Fibromyalgia Get Better?
Many people with fibromyalgia find that their symptoms and quality of life improve substantially as they identify the most effective treatments and make lifestyle changes. While fibromyalgia is a chronic condition and there is no telling how you would feel when flares occur, if you are attentive in treating with it you can at times control the discomfort levels experienced.
Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!