Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic (long-term) condition causing pain all over the body, often accompanied by fatigue and other potential symptoms. While the severity of fibromyalgia symptoms can vary greatly, many people suffer from widespread and debilitating pain. 

 

What Are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?

 

 

Widespread Pain

 

The main symptom of fibromyalgia is widespread unexplained pain throughout the body.

People often describe this pain as burning, achy, sharp, and stabbing.

You may also experience stiffness in your muscles, similar to the feeling you get after a workout or session of heavy exercise.

While most people experience all over their bodies, you may find it worse in areas like your neck, shoulders, or hips.

The pain from fibromyalgia may increase and decrease over time. Factors associated with this rise and fall in pain are stress levels, how physically active you are, or even changes in the weather.


Extreme Sensitivity

 

In addition to pain, fibromyalgia can cause extreme sensitivity to touch. 

This sensitivity can mean mild injuries (such as stubbing your toe) may be far more painful and continue, or the pain may persist, for longer than it typically would. In medical terms, this is called hyperalgesia.

In extreme cases,  this can also mean that you experience pain from things that are usually not painful, such as gentle touches. This sort of pain is called allodynia.

You may also experience sensitivity to other things, such as bright light, smoke, or types of food, especially spicy foods such as chillis.

 

Contact Allergens

 

Some people are allergic to chemicals that commonly come into contact with the skin, such as the chemicals in cosmetics, the nickel in jewellery, or the latex found in gloves and condoms. 

  • An itchy rash
  • Dry, cracked, scaly skin – typically on white skin
  • Blisters
  • Burning or swelling and tenderness of the skin


Fatigue

 

Another widespread symptom among suffers is a feeling of exhaustion or fatigue.

This fatigue can vary from mild tiredness to feeling so exhausted you may be unable to do anything.

The pain from fibromyalgia can also affect your sleep quality. You may wake up tired, even after a long sleep, a condition as non-restorative sleep. 


Difficulty Thinking

 

Cognitive problems are another common symptom of fibromyalgia. Among sufferers, this is known as “Fibro Fog.”

You may also need help with concentration and slow or confused speech.


Headaches

 

If you experience pain in your neck or shoulders, you may also suffer from headaches.

Headaches from fibromyalgia can range from mild to severe migraines, often resulting in nausea. 


Irritable Bowel Syndrome

 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is also more common among people living with fibromyalgia. 

IBS is a condition that causes bloating and pain in your digestive system, often resulting in constipation or diarrhea. You may find certain foods, such as grains containing gluten (like wheat or barley) or dairy products, trigger symptoms.


Depression

 

In some cases, fibromyalgia can lead to depression in sufferers.Common symptoms of depression include:

 

  • Constantly feeling sad, anxious, or ‘empty’

  • Feelings of hopelessness

  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness

  • A loss of interest in hobbies and activities


What causes Fibromyalgia?

 

At present, the causes of fibromyalgia are unknown. However, researchers believe the problem relates to the nervous system and how the brain receives pain sensations due to a change in chemicals known as neurotransmitters.  

Researchers also believe there is a genetic factor to fibromyalgia, with cases running in the family. 

In most cases, there is also a ‘trigger’ such as an acute illness, a physical trigger, such as injury or a major operation, or a period of emotional stress or trauma, such as serving in a war.  

 


How is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed?

 

Because the cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, it is often challenging to diagnose in patients. No ‘fibromyalgia test,’ such as a blood test or scan, can detect it. 

In many cases, however, doctors must perform tests to rule out other possible causes of symptoms, such as arthritis.

Unfortunately, this can often mean a diagnosis can take months or even years.


How is Fibromyalgia Treated?

 

As the cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, there is no direct treatment. Because of this, treatment will focus on easing your symptoms and improving your quality of life. 

 

Exercise and Physiotherapy

 

It can be difficult to exercise when you are in pain. Still, there is a strong link between fibromyalgia symptoms and physical activity. Staying active can reduce the pain and improve your quality of life. 

 

Talking Therapies

 

Research has shown that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can improve sleep quality, reduce pain, and help with symptoms such as depression. 


Medicine

 

While there are no specific medicines to treat fibromyalgia, antidepressants such as amitriptyline or citalopram have been shown to help with long-term pain.

If you or a family member think you may have fibromyalgia, it is important to speak to a GP or healthcare professional. If you are not currently registered with a doctor, you can register with a GP online 24/7 using our simple online form. 

If you aren’t registered with a GP yet,  you can register online at any time using our simple online form.

 

 

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