Information About Fibromyalgia

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Fibromyalgia Recovery Retreat | St. George, Utah

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that affects about 10 million Americans. Doctors diagnose fibromyalgia based on a patient’s symptoms and physical exam. Patients dealing with fibromyalgia experience stiffness and pain in the muscles, but there aren’t any quantifiable findings on X-rays or most laboratory tests. While fibromyalgia doesn’t damage the organs or joints, the constant aches and fatigue may have a significant influence on daily life.

Many people with fibromyalgia find that their symptoms and quality of life grow substantially since they identify the most effective remedies and make lifestyle changes. While fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, it doesn’t damage the joints, muscles, or internal organs.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes widespread pain, fatigue and other debilitating symptoms. The condition is still not well understood by the medical community, and for many years, healthcare providers questioned its existence.

While it’s a challenging condition to treat, fibromyalgia recovery is possible. Therapy, lifestyle changes and treatment programs can help improve the quality of life for many people.

How Many People Have Fibromyalgia?

According to the CDC, fibromyalgia affects nearly 4 million adults in the United States, but organizations like the American Chronic Pain Association estimate that up to 12 million people may suffer from this condition.

While this condition can affect both men and women, it’s more common in women. Nearly 90% of people with fibromyalgia are female.

What are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia can trigger pain in specific areas of the body, which are known as trigger or tender points. The pain in these areas typically feels like a dull ache.

Other symptoms of fibromyalgia can include:

  • Widespread pain
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Impaired memory
  • Tingling and numbness in the hands and feet 
  • Joint stiffness
  • Headaches 
  • Dull aches in the lower belly

Fibromyalgia may also be associated with other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Many people with fibromyalgia also experience anxiety and depression, which can be triggered by the pain and the inability to do certain things as a result of fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is often difficult to diagnose. It can be confused with other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. It is also often misdiagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome, which is a separate condition.

It’s possible to have both an autoimmune disorder like rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, and that can make it even more difficult to diagnose this condition.

What Causes Fibromyalgia?

Doctors and researchers still don’t know what causes fibromyalgia. However, they theorize that the condition may be caused by a number of inter-connected factors, including genetic disposition and a trigger (or triggers), which can include trauma or an infection.

For example, fibromyalgia has been linked to post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The condition has also been linked to several illnesses, including Salmonella infections, flu and even Epstein-Barr virus. 

Fibromyalgia is a difficult condition to diagnose because there are no tests or imaging scans that can detect it.

There are a number of theories concerning the causes of fibromyalgia, however, research has yet to pinpoint a clear offender. Some doctors believe hormonal or chemical imbalances interrupt the way nerves indicate pain. Other people indicate a traumatic event or chronic stress may increase a person’s susceptibility. Most experts concur that fibromyalgia probably results from a combination of factors, instead of one cause.

  • Cold or humid weather
  • Too much or too little physical activity
  • Getting stressed
  • Lack of sleep

Fibromyalgia Treatment Options

There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but it can be managed, and many people are able to lead full lives. There are a number of treatments available, including lifestyle changes, medications, treatment centers and surgery.

Pain Management

Medication is often used to help manage pain and make it easier for people to perform daily tasks. Prescription pain medication may be required, but some can find relief through over-the-counter pain relievers, such as:

  • Ibuprofen
  • Aspirin
  • Naproxen

These medications also act as anti-inflammatories, which help with pain and can also help with other overlapping conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. 

Lifestyle Changes

Some people find that simple lifestyle changes can help reduce or even eliminate their fibromyalgia symptoms.

Lifestyle changes for fibromyalgia can include:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Reducing stress
  • Reducing your intake of alcohol and caffeine
  • Taking regular warm baths

Some people find that making the switch to a more active lifestyle and a healthier diet can make all the difference. Certain foods may exacerbate symptoms, while others can help reduce them. Exercising regularly can help combat pain naturally. 

Taking steps to reduce stress through meditation, yoga or self-care can help ease anxiety and depression associated with fibromyalgia.

Although it can be challenging to make lifestyle changes, they can be effective at reducing symptoms.

Fibromyalgia Therapy

Many people with fibromyalgia find that therapy can help reduce the stress and trauma that triggers their symptoms. 

Group therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are the two most common options for treating this condition. 

Group therapy can be beneficial because you meet and interact with other people who are experiencing the same symptoms. Research shows that CBT can be effective for fibromyalgia, so a combination of the two may be beneficial.

Fibromyalgia Rehab Programs 

There are fibromyalgia rehab centers that help people struggling with chronic conditions. These facilities provide intensive treatment and take a holistic approach to recovery. 

It’s not uncommon for people with fibromyalgia to also suffer from depression or anxiety. Some have past trauma that may be contributing to the condition. Rehab centers aim to treat both the physical and mental aspects of the condition,

This well-rounded approach can help many people recover from fibromyalgia and go on to lead productive lives.

The Takeaway

Fibromyalgia is a complex condition with no identifiable cause and symptoms that can be difficult to manage. Although challenging, recovery is possible. There are many ways to manage this condition, and many find that intensive forms of treatment through retreats and rehab facilities can make a world of difference. 

Additional Symptoms

The hallmark of fibromyalgia is muscle strain throughout the body, usually accompanied by:

  • Sleep conditions
  • Tiredness
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Specific tender points

Fibromyalgia Tender Points

One of the unique aspects of fibromyalgia is the presence of tender points in specific locations on the body. When these points are pressed, people with fibromyalgia feel pain, while people without the condition only feel the pressure. This illustration shows 18 possible tender points.

The pain of fibromyalgia could be extreme. Because traditionally no laboratory tests or X-rays might confirm a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, a few patients were once led to think that this pain was “all in their minds” Nevertheless, the medical community now accepts that the pain of fibromyalgia is real. Research suggests it’s caused by a glitch in how the body perceives pain.

Who is at Risk?

Doctors are not certain why, but girls are 10x more likely to have the condition than men. Some researchers believe genetics might play a role, but no specific genes have been identified.

Fibromyalgia And Fatigue

This isn’t the normal tiredness that follows a busy day, but a lingering feeling of fatigue. People with fibromyalgia might feel drowsy first thing in the morning, even after hours in bed. The fatigue might be worse on some days than others and may interfere with work, physical activity, and household chores.

Fibromyalgia's Impact on Your Life

Constantly fighting pain and fatigue can make people irritable, anxious, and depressed. You may have trouble staying on task at work, caring for children, or keeping up with family chores. Exercise or hobbies like gardening may seem daunting. The exhaustion and irritability may also result in missing out on visits with friends.

Diagnosing Fibromyalgia

Your doctor may diagnose fibromyalgia after hearing your symptoms and performing a physical exam. There is 1 laboratory test that can check for fibromyalgia. It measures the levels of proteins in the bloodstream and will help support that a fibro diagnosis. However, your physician can also do some testing to rule out other problems. Make sure you describe your pain in detail, including where and how often it happens. Also bring up any other symptoms, such as fatigue, sleep problems, or stress.

Getting Help With Fibromyalgia Treatment 

Today, the state has captured the interest of a vast range of healthcare providers. A lot of men and women receive treatment through their primary care providers. Check with local support groups and hospitals for a list of fibromyalgia treatment center in your town.

Fibromyalgia & Your Sleep

Studies suggest some patients remain in a shallow state of sleep and never experience restful, deep sleep. This deprives the body of a chance to repair and replenish itself, creating a vicious cycle. Poor sleep can make pain seem worse, and pain may lead to poor sleep.

Fibromyalgia & Depression 

Almost a third of people with fibromyalgia also have chronic depression when they’re diagnosed. The association between the two is unclear. Some researchers consider depression might be a result of chronic pain and fatigue. Others suggest that abnormalities in brain chemistry may lead to both depression and an unusual sensitivity to pain. Signs of depression may include difficulty concentrating, hopelessness, and loss of interest in favorite activities.

Prescription Management

The objective of fibromyalgia treatment would be to lessen pain, sleep disturbances, and mood disorders. Doctors can recommend medications that help alleviate your symptoms — ranging from familiar over-the-counter pain relievers to prescription drugs. Additionally, there are prescription drugs specifically approved for fibromyalgia recovery, including CymbaltaLyrica, and Stella.

Fibromyalgia & Exercise

Exercise can relieve several fibromyalgia symptoms. Physical activity can reduce pain and enhance fitness. Exercising just three times each week has also been demonstrated to ease fatigue and melancholy. Walking, stretching, and water aerobics are good forms of exercise to start with for individuals with fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia & Your Diet

Some experts say diet can play a role in fibromyalgia — not the same part in all patients. Certain foods, such as aspartame, MSG, caffeine, and berries, look to worsen symptoms in some people. But avoiding these foods won’t help everybody. To find out what works for you, consider removing foods one at a time and recording whether your symptoms improve.

Massage Therapy For Fibromyalgia

Some research indicates massage may help relieve fibromyalgia pain, even though its value is not entirely proven. Practitioners say that applying moderate pressure is key, while the technique is less important. Rubbing, kneading, or stroking all seem to help. A significant other can learn how to provide normal massages — and a 20-minute session may be long enough to get results.

Acupuncture 

Formal studies have produced mixed results on the use of acupuncture for fibromyalgia, but a few patients say it alleviates their symptoms. This traditional Chinese practice involves inserting thin needles at key points within the body. Acupressure stimulates the same pressure points and might be a good alternative for people that want to avoid needles.

Fibro Fog

A lot of people with fibromyalgia have trouble concentrating, a phenomenon called fibro fog. While getting best treatment for fibromyalgia pain and sleeplessness might assist, there are different actions you can take to enhance your focus.

Stress

Stress is apparently one of the most common causes of fibromyalgia flare-ups. While it’s impossible to remove stress from your life, you can try to reduce unnecessary stress. Ascertain which situations make you anxious — in the home and in the work — and figure out ways to make those situations more stressful. Experiment with yoga, meditation, or other relaxation methods. And also let yourself skip nonessential activities that cause stress.

Can You Achieve Fibromyalgia Recovery?

Many people with fibromyalgia find that their symptoms and quality of life grow substantially since they identify the most effective remedies and make lifestyle changes. While fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, it doesn’t damage the joints, muscles, or internal organs.

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