Fibromyalgia - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Fibromyalgia is a condition that affects your muscles and bones and causes widespread musculoskeletal pain. It is accompanied by emotional disturbances, sleep and memory issues, and fatigue.



What causes fibromyalgia?

The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. However, some risk factors predispose a person to get fibromyalgia.


Risk factors for getting fibromyalgia:


Sex: women are more likely to get fibromyalgia.


Age: Fibromyalgia can affect people of any age group, but it is more common in middle-aged people.


Stress: Stressful or traumatic events and post-traumatic stress disorder increase the likelihood of getting fibromyalgia.


Illnesses and diseases: Some diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and viral infections increase the risk of getting fibromyalgia.


Genetics: Having a positive family history of fibromyalgia increases the risk of getting it as it tends to run in families.


Autoimmune association: Fibromyalgia is found to be associated with autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, etc. Autoimmune diseases are diseases in which the immune cells of your body create antibodies against its own cells mistaking them for foreign cells like bacteria. This causes damage to the body's own cells. Fibromyalgia’s association with autoimmune diseases proposes that the disease itself could have an underlying autoimmune etiology. However, the claim is not yet proven. 


Symptoms of fibromyalgia:


Pain:

The main symptom of fibromyalgia is widespread pain in the body. Your muscles may feel tight and stiff and there may be a feeling of a consistent dull ache in your body which usually lasts more than 3 months.


Fatigue:

There is a feeling of fatigue in patients having fibromyalgia. This may affect sleep and there may be other sleep disorders accompanied with fibromyalgia too, such as restless leg syndrome.


Mood disturbances: 

There may be mood disturbances and feelings of anxiety, depression, or nervousness in patients with fibromyalgia.


Cognitive difficulties:  

A condition known as “fibro fog”, is a symptom of fibromyalgia which represents itself by lack of focus and concentration and memory impairment such as trouble in recalling past events.


Other symptoms:


  • Headaches

  • Dry mouth, nose, and eyes

  • Pain in the face or jaw

  • Bloating

  • Constipation

  • Abdominal pain

  • Numbness or tingling in hands and feet


How is fibromyalgia treated?


The treatment of fibromyalgia is generally aimed at :


Pain relief:

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen are prescribed to control pain.


Muscle relaxants:

Muscle relaxant drugs are prescribed to reduce muscle stiffness and feeling of pain.


Antidepressants:

Antidepressant drugs help in sleeping better and reduce the feeling of fatigue.


Antiseizure drugs:

Antiseizure drugs such as gabapentin may be given to reduce pain sensations.



Lifestyle changes for managing fibromyalgia:


Other than medications, your doctor may also advise lifestyle changes to help manage fibromyalgia and reduce its symptoms:


Exercise:

Regular exercising is advised to patients with fibromyalgia. Exercise helps better the pain and helps you sleep well. There are a variety of exercise options that you can choose to do daily, such as yoga, aerobics, pilates, walking, etc.


Stress management:

Stress increases the risk of fibromyalgia and worsens the symptoms. It is advisable to manage stress by doing meditation, yoga, massage, etc. If these things do not help you, you can talk to a therapist to help you cope with the stresses in your life. 


Conclusion:

Fibromyalgia can affect the quality of your life. It can hold you from working at your fullest potential, and it can also affect your relationships as your mood is disturbed. However, with proper treatment and lifestyle modifications, fibromyalgia can be managed and can help improve the quality of your life. It is advisable to control your stress levels. Keep in mind a stress-free life means a healthy life!


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