Fibromyalgia is defined as ‘a disorder of widespread pain with multiple tender points’, and is an unusual condition which is plaguing an increasing proportion of the population. The name fibromyalgia is derived from the Greek words which mean muscle and connective tissue pain, which is a typical symptom of fibromyalgia, but there are other symptoms including inflammation, bowel disturbances, weakness, muscle spasms, swelling and constant fatigue. This article will investigate the possible causes for fibromyalgia, and explore any potential treatments to reduce or remove the symptoms.
Causes of fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia has only been researched within the last 40 years as it is a relatively new disorder with variable symptoms which made diagnosis difficult. Current research suggests that fibromyalgia is caused by pain pathways becoming over excited and so becoming very sensitive, and is thought to be a problem directly related to nervous function. It is still largely unknown what causes this to happen, but there have been a number of possible causes identified, all of which in isolation may be enough to cause the condition, but it is more likely to be a combination of these causes which result in fibromalgia developing. Bellow is a list of potential causes.
Genetic – If someone in your family suffers from fibromyalgia, then there is a greater risk of you developing it too. This suggests that it is related to genetics, although specific genes have not been identified as a cause. It may be that certain genes make you more predisposed to experiencing one of the other causes such as anxiety or stress.
Mood (stress/depression/anxiety) – Stress has been identified as a primary cause of fibromyalgia, and living a stressful life greatly increases your risk of developing it. The connection between depression, anxiety and fibromyalgia is not as clear. It has been observed that individuals who experience depression or anxiety are more likely to have fibromyalgia, but it has not yet been determined if these cause fibromyalgia, or if they are a result of fibromyalgia.
Irregular/ disturbed sleep – It has been observed that people who experience disturbed sleep cycles are more sensitive to pain in their muscles, very similar to fibromyalgia although not to the same extreme. It is therefore possible that regularly disturbed sleep is likely to contribute to the development of fibromyalgia.
Injury – Sever injury, particularly to the neck has been reported to increase your risk of developing fibromyalgia. This is thought to be as a result of nerve damage, but it is not yet fully understood.
There is no universal treatment for fibromyalgia, but there are a number of treatment options which people have reported to help. As with causes, different people will find different treatments more effective. Bellow are a number of treatments which have reported to have worked for many people.
Medication – Some medicines, particularly pain killers and antidepressants have been reported to ease the effects symptoms of fibromyalgia and can even treat it. However, as these medications often come with their the risk of side effects, especially from prolonged use, and so it is recommended to explore and exhaust other alternative is possible.
Diet – Although dietary causes for fibromyalgia have not been identified, many people have reported that dietary alterations can improve fibromyalgia. Consumption of turmeric and ginger have been shown to reduce some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia, and this is thought to be as a result of inhibiting pro-inflammatory pathways in the body which may alleviate pain. It is also recommended to reduce consumption of poly-unsaturated fats (such as omega-6), which can produce pro-inflammatory compounds which can increase the feeling of pain. It is always recommended to ensure a natural diet, free of processed foods and artificial chemicals and high in vegetables with conditions such as fibromyalgia. Fiobromyalgia is a relatively new condition, and it is possible that some people are more sensitive to the effects of some artificial chemicals than others which may have caused fibromyalgia to develop.
Eliminating stimulants which are associated with increasing anxiety such as coffee from your diet is also suggested if you suffer from fibromyalgia.
Exercise – Research has shown that aerobic exercise such as jogging or swimming can reduce tenderness of muscles, improve sleep and combat depression, meaning that exercise has a number of potential benefits in fighting fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is a relatively recent ailment, but the number of people suffering from it is increasing. There is still much to be learnt about fibromyalgia, and how it works in the body is not fully understood (although it is likely to be a result of over excited nerves). Causes of fibromyalgia seem to be quite variable, and there has not been one common trigger identified. It is likely top develop as a result of a number of possible causes such as stress, poor sleep, genes and/ or damage to nerves. As so little is understood about the causes of fibromyalgia and how it works, treatment is very difficult, and what works for one might not work for another. Currently treatments include prescriptions of antidepressants/ painkillers, but is is recommended to try exercising and making dietary alterations before using these medications, as they do have side effects after prolonged use.
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