I had no idea what to fibromyalgia symptoms were until I married. My mother in law, a woman who knows no such thing as defeat, had just been diagnosed with this disease. I had never even heard the word and it took us all a while to learn how to pronounce it, much less learn what it really means.
Fibromyalgia has only come to the forefront of medical study in the past few years. This is in part due to the mysterious nature of the disorder. Simply put fibromyalgia means pain, and plenty of it. Persons afflicted experience general, random pain with no apparent cause over their entire body. Some report that the pain seems to centralize and radiate from back, shoulders, hips or neck. Others experience aching muscles or sustained muscle spasms. Hypersensitive skin is also an heir mark of fibromyalgia. For example the light pressure of your sleeve brushing the skin does not cause pain in most people, but for sufferers of fibromyalgia this is often a very painful sensation.
In addition to the painful fibromyalgia symptoms there are a score of other related ailments. Depression and other psychological problems often crop up. People may find they have trouble concentrating or remembering things. This is often called brain fog. It is a fun euphemistic term, but it can really be frustrating to live with 24-7. Sleep disorders are also common. They range from insomnia to malconstructed sleep, meaning the body sleeps, but the brain doesn’t ever really rest, or that the deep sleep brain waves are interrupted with bursts of energy. This leads to fatigue, depression and ever thickening brain fog.
So much about fibromyalgia is yet to be clearly defined or understood. Unfortunately the root cause of fibromyalgia falls into this area. No one really knows what causes it. There seems to be a genetic element. Some people have symptoms from childhood. In others symptoms can lie dormant for years then burst onto the scene of your daily life after an accident (like a traffic accident), or major illness or surgery. Likewise traumatic physiological events can trigger fibromyalgia to flare up. Some studies have linked fibromyalgia to Lyme disease.
What researchers do agree on is that it is not contagious, and it is not a degenerative disorder.
First and foremost, like any disease, you should discuss treatment options over with your health care provider. With the recent attention to fibromyalgia there has been a great improvement in the drugs available to treat the pain. Some are available over the counter like Tylenol or Ibuprophen. Others will require a prescription. The FBA has recently approved the prescription medication Lyrica for the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms that have been diagnosed as the disease.
Reducing stress and increasing activity within reason also seem to help. Exercise decreases the perception of pain. Exercise does not need to be strenuous just get the body moving. During flare ups, use of a heating pad can soothe the discomfort.