Fibromyalgia (FM) is a complicated chronic pain condition that impacts people on a physical, social, and mental level. FM has previously been called fibromyalgia syndrome, fibrositis, or fibromyositis. It is most commonly known for widespread pain throughout the body. Symptoms of fibromyalgia come and go. When symptoms are severe, they can be extremely disabling and can interfere with your daily activities and negatively impact your life quality.
Fibromyalgia is one of the most common pain conditions. It affects as many as 10 million people in the United States and as many as 6 percent worldwide. It is most prevalent in women; in fact, 75 to 90 percent of people who have fibromyalgia are women. However, it also affects men and children of various ethnic groups. This disorder is commonly seen in families - among siblings or mothers and their children. People are generally diagnosed between the ages of 20 to 50 years. The incidence grows as one ages, however, and by age 80, about 8% of adults meet the criteria for fibromyalgia.
10 Signs Indicating You May Have Fibromyalgia
Generalized muscle pain: The most commonly recognized symptom of fibromyalgia is muscle pain that comes on as a persistent, dull ache and can last for several weeks or even months. The pain is similar to the sensation of pulling a muscle or overstraining, such as after an intense workout. For this type of pain to be diagnosed as fibromyalgia, it must occur on both sides of the body and both above and below the waist in certain tender points. The American College of Rheumatology has guidelines confirming patients with FM must feel pain in at least 11 of the 18 pain spots in response to light pressure.
Joint pain: Some people suffering from fibromyalgia feel pain in their joints. The knees, elbows, ankles, and shoulders are painful. This often causes the person to visit their doctor for relief. In return, the condition is sometimes misdiagnosed as arthritis. This is particularly true if you do not tell your doctor that you also have muscle pain in addition to joint pain.
Fatigue: FM patients complain of being tired all the time when they have a flare-up. You might wake up feeling tired and then continue to have lack of energy throughout the day. Recommendations to fight this fatigue are developing coping mechanisms such as exercises and certain practices that heighten your energy levels and do not wear you out any further.
Problems getting enough rest: Disturbed sleep and insomnia are very common in those having fibromyalgia. This may be due to the pain preventing one from sleeping, or it may be caused by the nature of the condition as it often disturbs your sleep cycle and prevents you from getting enough rest. This adds up to fatigue over time, which exacerbates your overall health issues.
Sensitivity to touch: Two medical terms used to describe the sensitivity to touch that FM patients experience are: hyperalgesia and hyperesthesia. Hyperalgesia describes an increase in pain sensation, such as stubbing your toe and then feeling the throbbing pain for hours or even days later. Hyperesthesia describes an increased sensitivity to the sensory input of touch, such as being under a light blanket but feeling as if you are trapped under a heavy lead weight. These conditions can become so bad you may feel as if you cannot participate in routine activities.
Environmental sensitivity: FM sufferers are often impacted by the environment around them, even by things that seem minor to others. This usually involves the patient's senses of smell, touch, and sight. Some examples of things that may cause sensitivities are cigarette smoke, fresh paint, chemical-based products, noise in the normal to moderate range, and certain types of lighting.
Muscle spasms: Extreme spasms that seem to have no cause are all too familiar to FM patients. Sometimes muscles will just go spontaneously into a spasm and one or more muscle can be affected. The most intense spasms may occur at night. These can be severe enough to wake you up.
Problems concentrating: Memory and concentration are impacted by fibromyalgia. It has not been determined if this is due to the exhaustion that accompanies FM or a different reason completely. Short-term memory is compromised. Many feel what is described as fibro-fog, a mental feeling of cloudiness or sluggishness.
Persistent headaches: FM patients report having chronic migraines or headaches that can be severe and disabling. These headaches may be triggered by environmental factors such as bright lights, strong smells, and loud noises.
Bowel problems: Irritable bowel syndrome is not uncommon among FM sufferers. Some patients experience constipation while others suffer from diarrhea.
Finding Natural Relief for Fibromyalgia
It has been discovered that fibromyalgia may be connected to a misalignment in the bones of the upper cervical spine, the C1 and C2 vertebrae. If either of these bones is misaligned, it may be putting the brainstem under pressure. The brainstem is part of the central nervous system, and if it begins sending improper signals to the brain and the level of pain in the body, fibromyalgia can be an end result.
Here, at Health First Chiropractic Skagit County in Sedro Woolley, Washington, we use a method that does not inflict any further pain on the back or neck. It is a gentle method that does not include popping or cracking of the spine. Rather, we encourage the bones to move back into place naturally, allowing the body to begin healing. Many patients see a great improvement in their symptoms of fibromyalgia.