What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia – by definition, is a common and complex chronic pain disorder that causes widespread pain and tenderness to the touch that may occur body wide or migrate over the body. As I’m sure you’ve heard in commercials for new medications out for Fibromyalgia, it’s overactive nerves. But if you’re not being hurt in any way, or doing anything strenuous, where does the pain come from? When all you do is lay in bed, watch TV, and sit the majority of the day because of the pain, why are you in pain?
Well, we know it originates in the nerves of the body, which come from your central nervous system. One would think this is a neurological condition. However, due to “pain” being the primary complaint, it is diagnosed and treated by a Rheumatologist, as most neurological tests will come back with no found issues. Scientists are still trying to find out what causes the nerves to act in the manner in which they do. I’m sure you saw the article that scientists figured out the mystery of Fibromyalgia? Yeah, Snopes shut that down real quick. But not after over 100 people tagged me on social media to look into it.
Let’s be real: If someone says they have the “cure”, best to stop wasting your time right then and there. The truth is more research needs to be done, but the way my Rheumatologist explained it, is this way:
“Your brain is like a coffee filter. When you get cut, or hurt, it sends pain signals to that location. If your not injured, it doesn’t send pain signals, because there’s no need for them. However, your brain (meaning MY particular brain) isn’t receiving the signal properly and is just constantly throwing out pain signals, even though there is no injury.”
So, in essence, my filter is broken (trust me, my pain filter isn’t the only thing broken!). My brain is sending chronic pain signals to my muscles, despite there being no “cause” for pain. There are studies being done to see if there is a known marker for a genetic compound or hormonal compound seen in properly diagnosing Fibro. A recent study done in France has found that in women with Fibromyalgia, there is an increased blood flow in specific areas to the brain. That increase in blood flow could be the answer, especially if the blood is entering a pain center in the brain.
More recently, there was a small study done in which scientists are now working on a blood test – the sample was a very small population, but it seems promising.
Where is the pain?
In terms of where in the body pain comes from or shows up, for Fibromyalgia it will most likely start in the head with headaches, migraines, or tension headaches first. Maybe the whole hyperperfusion theory discussed earlier is true then, and that’s why pain starts in those areas more frequently. Like I stated with my diagnosis, tension headaches were the first sign that something was wrong. That was many months before any of the body aches and pains made themselves known. After that it tends to spread to the rest of the body, specifically in the hips and shoulders areas. If you have chronic pain in these area, please see your primary care physician and he can refer you if needed. Please note this pain is not due to an injury or over exertion, but will be a chronic pain that may be dull or achy.
How do YOU manage Fibromyalgia?
This question comes up so often. “What is one thing you do to get through it?” The brutally honest truth? There is no one key element to my success. I will, however, tell you my top 3 things that are a constant in my life to keep me healthy and keep from going into a flare up
- Sleep Number – Find your “sweet” sleep spot – for me it’s 7.5 hours a night of uninterrupted sleep
- Nutrition & Gut Health – This is often the first thing I tell people to change up. Need to know all the details? Let’s schedule a call
- Stress Management – Yes, reduce your stress. I even went so far as to change my career to keep my symptoms under control. This can be anything from meditation and yoga a few times a week to making drastic changes in your relationships and how you view things.
Please note that what works for one person, may not work for everyone. This often makes treatment more difficult. If you think you or a loved one may have Fibromyalgia, please see a specialist or discuss your symptoms with your doctor so a proper course of treatment can be started as soon as possible. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or concerns!