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Fibromyalgia: Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors, and Treatment

Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes pain all over the body or also referred to as widespread pain, sleep problems, fatigue, and often emotional and mental distress. People with this disease may be more sensitive to pain due to abnormal pain perception processing. Women are more likely to develop this condition than men. Many people also have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and depression. 

Signs and Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

The primary symptoms of this condition include:

  1. Widespread pain. In most cases, fibromyalgia pain is described as a dull ache that has lasted for at least three months. To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist.
  2. Fatigue. People with this disease often awaken tired, even though they report sleeping for long periods of time. Often, pain disrupts sleep, and many patients suffer from sleep disorders like sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome.
  3. Cognitive difficulties. A symptom commonly referred to as fibro fog impairs the ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks.

This condition often co-exists with other conditions, such as:

  • Postural tachycardia syndrome
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Temporomandibular joint disorders
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression
  • Migraine and other types of headaches

Causes of Fibromyalgia

In people with fibromyalgia, repeated nerve stimulation changes their brains and spinal cords. This change involves an abnormal increase in levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain. Moreover, the brain’s pain receptors seem to develop a memory of the pain and become sensitized, which means they can overreact in both painful and nonpainful situations.

Some of the related causes are Genetics as this condition tends to run in families, and certain genetic mutations may make you more susceptible to developing the disorder. Infections, physical, and emotional life events also cause chronic pain.

The Risk Factors of Fibromyalgia

  • Your gender. This condition is more often in women than in men.
  • Other disorders. If you have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus, you may be more likely to develop this condition.
  • Family history. You may be more likely to develop if a parent or sibling also has the condition.

Treatment, Management, and Prevention of Fibromyalgia

Generally, treatments for this disease include both medication and self-care strategies. The emphasis is on minimizing symptoms and improving general health. The use of multiple treatment strategies can have a cumulative effect since no one treatment works for all symptoms. Common choices include:

  • Physical therapy. Strength, flexibility, and stamina can all be improved with the help of a physical therapist. Water-based exercises might be particularly helpful.
  • Occupational therapy. You can reduce the stress on your body by adjusting your work area or the way you perform certain tasks with the help of an occupational therapist.
  • Pain relievers. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as NSAIDs can help manage pain. 
  • Antidepressants. It may help ease the pain and fatigue associated with this disease. 
  • Anti-seizure drugs. Medications designed to treat epilepsy are often useful in reducing certain types of pain. 
  • Counseling. It is important to talk to a counselor to strengthen your belief in your abilities and to learn strategies for dealing with stressful situations.

Recommended Medication for Fibromyalgia

Duloxetine. It is an antidepressant that is also used to relieve chronic pain associated with a condition known as fibromyalgia. It is believed that duloxetine exerts antidepressant effects due to its serotonergic and noradrenergic activity in the central nervous system. 

Lifestyle and Home Remedies 

  • Getting good quality sleep is essential. Aside from getting enough sleep, practice good sleep habits, such as going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.
  • Exercising gradually and regularly often decreases symptoms. Developing an exercise program at home can be assisted by a physical therapist. Stretching, good posture and relaxation exercises also are helpful.
  • Develop a plan to avoid or limit overexertion and emotional stress. Allow yourself time each day to relax. 
  • Try stress management techniques, such as deep-breathing exercises or meditation.
  • Keep your activity on an even level. Likewise, it means not self-limiting or doing too little on days when symptoms flare up.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy foods and avoid smoking or drinking alcoholic medication.

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