Fibromyalgia is a pain condition, in which there is widespread pain in muscles and tissues of the body with tenderness. In most cases, pain due to fibromyalgia is of chronic type and often lasts for longer periods. When you have fibromyalgia, your body may feel sore, muscles may be painful with increased sensitivity to physical activity and any changes tend to affect them more easily. If you aware of what happens when you have fibromyalgia, you can learn ways to manage it and will surely be able to deal with it in a better way.
What Happens When You Have Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is more common in women but can also be experienced by children and men. While it is a condition itself, fibromyalgia can be influenced by the presence of some forms of arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis, etc. or can be precipitated following an injury, repeated injuries or a traumatic event. You may be at an increased risk of fibromyalgia if you or your close family members have suffered from it earlier.
How Does Fibromyalgia Affect You?
Fibromyalgia is a condition, which causes pain in muscles, which results in aches all over the body. There is diffuse pain or specific points in the body are painful. Such points are called tender points, which are usually located on the neck, shoulders, arms, hips, back and thighs. These points are often painful, sore and tender to touch and pain easily when pressure is exerted on them.
When you have fibromyalgia, your muscles get irritated and cause pain on making movements and exertion. However, lack of activity, can further contribute to weak or more sensitive muscles. It is possible that the muscles are unable to repair or have a tendency to get irritated more easily. Hence, with little exertion there can be more fatigue, which can even interfere with your nighttime sleep. Improper sleep can again contribute to painful and tender muscles, on waking up you feel fatigued the next day. It can be a vicious cycle, in which maintaining a balance of rest, activity, exercises and sleep is essential.
What Symptoms Can a Fibromyalgia Patient Experience?
When you have Fibromyalgia, the symptoms can include a variety of complaints like soreness all over the body, painful points often triggered by excess physical activity. Pain is usually present in the upper as well as lower body and on both left and right sides. You may feel better on some days, while on few days the pain may be unbearable. You may also experience fatigue, which along with painful muscles can even interfere in your daily routine.
Morning stiffness may be felt in the painful muscles, generally not more than an hour and there may be difficulty in movement or performance of certain activities. There is increased sensitivity to pain and possibly even to loud noises and bright lights. You may feel more sensitive to temperature changes and muscle pain can sometimes worsen in cold weather. When you have fibromyalgia, you may also feel a sensation of numbness and tingling in hands and legs, at times. Restlessness of legs is often a common complaint.
Other complaints that may bother you include disturbances in sleep, headaches, memory problems or difficulty in concentration, when you have fibromyalgia. You may also have irritable bowel syndrome, changes in bowel habits and indigestion. Physical and emotional stress can worsen you muscle pain but resting for too long can also cause discomfort.
Many people with fibromyalgia often complaint of worsening of pain from cold, damp or windy weather, lack of proper sleep, stress and overexertion. If you experience such symptoms, it is advisable to seek medical opinion to get a diagnosis and begin with appropriate treatment and lifestyle management for your condition.
How is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed?
Fibromyalgia is a pain condition and there are no specific tests to diagnose the condition. Also, the complaints overlap with other medical conditions, which also need to be ruled out. Hence, when you see your physician, you need to narrate your history, report any history of falls, accidents, trauma or other existing conditions etc. Investigations to rule out other conditions like arthritis, injuries, etc. may be done before confirming that you have fibromyalgia.
How is Fibromyalgia Treated?
Your physician can confirm whether or not you have fibromyalgia, after all other possible causes are ruled out. While there are few medicines approved for treatment of fibromyalgia, physical therapy, exercises and other modalities can help to a great extent.
You can manage fibromyalgia by making slight changes in your lifestyle, which include:
- Be physically active with gentle exercises or walking and avoid overdoing things.
- Eat a healthy diet, which includes all food groups, while avoiding junk food. Drink plenty of water. Avoid excess stimulants, caffeine and alcohol.
- Maintain ideal weight to avoid undue pressure on joints and muscles.
- Maintain proper sleep schedule, keep your bedroom clean, quiet and dark. Avoid distractions and unwind yourself before bedtime. Avoid sleeping during the day to be able to enjoy a good night's sleep. You can take daytime rest for a short while during flare-ups.
- Relax yourself with light music, warm water bath or gentle massage.