What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is an illness that causes chronic pain in muscles and ligaments. The vast majority of affected people are women in their mid-30s to late-50s.
In addition to chronic muscular pain and stiffness, this ailment can also cause fatigue, sleep disorders, depression, and an inability to think clearly.
What are the causes of fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia syndrome has been shown to be genetic. The disorder frequently becomes evident after stressful events. The stressful events may be emotional (such as a traumatic life event), physical (such as a motor-vehicle accident), or medical (such as certain infections). The chronic pain of rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and other health conditions and autoimmune diseases can trigger the development of fibromyalgia.
The manner in which the brain and spinal cord process pain sensations is abnormal in fibromyalgia. The threshold at which stimuli cause pain or discomfort has been proven to be lower in fibromyalgia. The pain felt is more intense because the pain is amplified by the abnormalities in the central nervous system and in pain processing. Because of this, things that are not normally painful may be painful for someone with fibromyalgia.
In addition, fibromyalgia causes the pain from any given cause to be worse. For example, a patient with fibromyalgia may find a massage painful instead of pleasant. In addition, back pain that someone without fibromyalgia experiences as moderate may be experienced as severe by someone with fibromyalgia, because the pain is amplified by abnormalities in pain processing by the central nervous system.
What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is often associated with areas of tenderness, which are called trigger points or tender points. These are places on your body where even light pressure can cause pain.
Today, these points are rarely used to diagnose fibromyalgia. Instead, they may be used as one way for doctors to narrow their list of possible diagnoses. Doctors use a combination of other consistent symptoms – and possibly some medical tests – to help them determine a cause.
The pain caused by these trigger points can also be described as a consistent dull ache affecting many areas of your body. If you were to experience this pain for at least three months, doctors may consider this a symptom of fibromyalgia.
People with this disorder may also experience:
- trouble sleeping
- sleeping for long periods of time without feeling rested
- inability to focus or difficulty paying attention
- pain or dull aching in the lower abdomen
Symptoms may be a result of the brain and nerves misinterpreting or overreacting to normal pain signals. This may be due to a chemical imbalance in the brain.