Fibromyalgia is a disorder that is marked by generalized pain in the muscles and bones, areas of tenderness, and fatigue. It is a chronic disorder. This means that it is a long-term disorder. It has no cure.
The symptoms of fibromyalgia are known to be subjective. This means that there are no objective tests that can be used to detect them.
The fact that it has no objectively verifiable symptoms leads many doctors to question whether it is a real illness at all. This can be a source of great frustration for those who suffer from it.
According to Healthline, the struggle to gain acceptance of their illness leads many sufferers to get depression.
Some doctors have raised the concern that patients can use the undetectable pain as an excuse to receive prescriptions for pain medication.
Fortunately, researchers are now gaining a better understanding of the illness so that this may not continue to be a problem.
What Are the Causes of this Phantom Illness?
According to WebMD, it is not really known what causes fibromyalgia. However, some doctors theorize that it is a neurological problem.
There are certain risk factors for fibromyalgia. They are:
- Being female
- You already have an illness such as arthritis or an infection.
- You have a mood disorder.
- You have suffered abuse or have PTSD.
- You rarely exercise.
- You have a genetic predisposition.
What Are Its Symptoms?
- Muscle pain, burning, twitching, or tightness
- Tender points
- Difficulties concentrating and remembering
- Nervousness, worry, or depression
Other symptoms can include:
- Stomach or digestion troubles
- Dry mouth, nose, and eyes
- Sensitivity to cold, heat, light, or sound
- Frequent urination
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
Since the symptoms are not objectively testable, it may be difficult to diagnose the condition. Your doctor may want to rule out other possible conditions with similar symptoms.
How Can You Treat Fibromyalgia?
Medications may reduce the pain and help you get better sleep.
These medications include:
You can try over-the-counter pain relievers. These include acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium. There are also prescription pain relievers such as tramadol. Narcotics are not suggested. They can lead to dependence.
Drugs that are used to treat epilepsy can be used for pain. Gabapentin can help ease symptoms, and pregabalin has been approved to treat the disorder.
There are therapies that can help with fibromyalgia. They include:
A physical therapist can show you exercises that will help with strength, flexibility, and stamina.
This kind of therapist can show you how to alter your work environment to help with stress on your body.
Your counselor can help you develop coping strategies to deal with stressful
Lifestyle and Home Remedies
Develop a way of limiting your stress. Give yourself some time each day to refresh yourself. Develop stress management techniques. These include breathing exercises and meditation.
Get Sufficient Rest
To combat the fatigue of the disorder, you will need to be careful to get enough rest.
Exercise is a good way of reducing symptoms. At first, it may be difficult. However, regular exercise can ease symptoms after a while.
Moderate the amount of activity that you engage in.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Keep to a healthy diet. Don’t drink too much caffeine. Treat yourself to an activity that you enjoy every day.
Mayo Clinic says that some alternative practices do appear to safely relieve stress and reduce pain. However, many of them don’t have a lot of scientific support.
Acupuncture is a Chinese traditional medicine that is supposed to restore a normal balance of life forces through the insertion of needles into the body. Studies are somewhat mixed with respect to its efficacy in easing fibromyalgia symptoms.
Massage therapy involves the manipulation of the body’s muscles and soft tissues. Massage may reduce heart rate and relax your muscles.
Yoga and Tai Chi
These ancient arts are both useful in easing the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Is Fibromyalgia a Progressive Disease?
According to New Life Outlook, fibromyalgia is not classed as a progressive or degenerative disease. However, many people feel that their condition is getting worse over time.
Many people feel that they can’t do the things that they used to, and the condition progressively interferes more and more with their life.
According to this website, there are five things that a person can do to delay the flare-ups and limit the degeneration.
1. Keep Track of Your Flares
Since your doctor may only be able to do so much for you, you may need to take things more into your own hands. The first thing to do is to understand the patterns of your fibromyalgia.
You should keep a diary that records when you get your symptoms and what makes them worse. By doing this, you may be even able to avoid flare-ups for at least some of the time.
2. Pace Yourself
While it is important to remain active, you need to be careful about pushing yourself. Finding a balance can be a trying endeavor. Fibromyalgia patients many times find that overexertion can cause more flare-ups.
Patients also find that, if they are exhausted, it is more difficult to deal with the pain. For this reason, you need to watch over and limit how active you are.
You should also figure out what kind of activities frustrate you. Then you can determine a way to modify them to be easier on you.
3. Try New Things
You need to be careful about trying untested remedies for the condition. However, you can systematically try out things that sound reasonable to you. Some people have discovered that gluten can cause more intense flare-ups.
4. Develop a Good Support Network
Since there are emotional effects of different kinds of the illness, it is important to develop a good support network. It is a simple idea that problems can be handled better if they are shared among people.
Is There Remission from Fibromyalgia?
Many people find that the pain of fibromyalgia comes and goes. The question is why this is the case. This is not such an easy question to answer, however, because the origins of the illness are somewhat mysterious.
There are, however, a few different explanations as to why the pain may come and go.
Fibromyalgia begins in the nerves. The nerves start firing, for some reason, which results in constant pain. This firing off can make it difficult to function normally.
Research seems to indicate that the pain comes and goes because of changes that a person makes in their lifestyle. These changes can be related to diet, activity level, and other factors.
Remission from fibromyalgia is simply defined as a reduction in symptoms. Even if you start to go into remission, there are still some symptoms that may hang around. These include:
- Sensitivity to smells, bright lights, or other stimuli
- Swelling in the feet and hands
- Slight distraction and lack of focus
- Muscle pain or twitches
- Poor sleep patterns
- Poor temperature regulation
According to Fibromyalgia Treating, it is rare for a person to go into complete remission.
However, a doctor who was interviewed on Everyday Health claimed that fibromyalgia does go away in a substantial number of people.
He said that there is research that indicates that if you have had fibromyalgia for two years or under, the chances of total remission is 70 to 80 percent.
If you have had it for eight years or longer, it is much less likely that you will go into remission.
This doctor claimed that researchers don’t really know why it goes away because they don’t really understand why it comes on in the first place.
Maintaining Your Diet for Fibromyalgia
Healthline recommends that you should be careful to eat a balanced diet if you have fibromyalgia. Such a diet includes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, low-fat dairy, and lean protein.
You should avoid processed and fried foods and foods that contain a lot of saturated fat. You should also limit the quantity of sugar and salt in what you consume.
The illness can make you feel fatigued. There are foods that you can eat that will give you more energy.
You should avoid sweets. They will only be a short-term energy source. After you burn through them, you will have a tendency to crash.
The alternative is that you should combine protein or fats with carbohydrates to slow down their absorption. Pick foods that are rich in fiber and low in added sugars.
- Nuts and seeds
- Dark leafy greens
Think about Going Vegetarian
There is research that indicates that eating a vegetarian or vegan diet may give you some relief from symptoms. One study found that people who eat a mostly raw vegetarian diet suffered less pain.
Avoid Certain Foods
While there is no specific “fibromyalgia diet,” research indicates that there are certain foods that may be an issue for people who suffer from the illness.
FODMAPs are fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These are types of carbohydrates that are fermented by bacteria in the digestive tract.
They may increase the likelihood of symptoms in certain people. Research indicates that, if you reduce them in your diet, you may reduce your symptoms.
As mentioned before, non-celiac gluten sensitivity might be an issue for those with the illness. Even people who are negative for celiac disease have found improvements when following a gluten-free diet.
Excitotoxins and Food Additives
Research has shown that a one-month elimination of aspartame, MSG, and altered proteins can ease pain symptoms. When people added these substances into their diets again, their symptoms got worse.
Maintain Your Weight
Research has indicated that obese people had relief of some symptoms after they lost weight. Weight loss can be a significant factor in easing symptoms.
There are people who try to take herbal remedies and dietary supplements to ease their symptoms. There isn’t much research available that shows their efficacy.
Research is currently underway concerning the possibility that there is a connection between low magnesium and symptoms.
More research is needed to establish the truth of this. However, in the meantime, you can add magnesium-rich foods to your diet.
Cures for Fibromyalgia
Contrary to what some websites will tell you on the internet, there is no cure for fibromyalgia. Instead, treatment can help ease your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
In order to find a cure, research is needed to understand why people develop the condition in the first place.
So far, research has indicated that three things might contribute to the development of the illness. These are genetics, illness, and trauma.
A combination of genetic and lifestyle risk factors may also be significant.
Fibromyalgia is somewhat of a phantom illness because its symptoms are not objectively testable, and the disease itself is not testable. However, more and more doctors see the illness as being a real phenomenon.
The illness is not progressive or degenerative, although many people find that their symptoms worsen over time. There is very little research on the progress of the illness, but it does seem that many will go into remission.
While there is no cure for the illness, there are things that you can do to manage its symptoms. These include a proper diet, medication, and lifestyle changes.
Here is a useful video that discusses how people have dealt with their condition.
When you consult with your doctor, you should ask her to refer you to a specialist who deals with fibromyalgia. This way, you can get expert advice on your specific condition.