Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic health disorder resulting in widespread muscle pain and extreme fatigue. It has such a significant impact that it often interferes with your daily routines. If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, you will experience pain and tenderness throughout your body. It is often considered an arthritis-related condition, but it is not really arthritis because it does not cause inflammation or damage to the joints, muscles, or other tissues. You may also have other chronic pain conditions that exist at the same time, including:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ OR TMD)
- Internal cystitis
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
Who Is at Risk of Developing Fibromyalgia?
Anyone can get fibromyalgia at any time in their life. However, women are much more likely than men to develop the disorder. It usually affects those in middle age. It is also more likely to occur in someone who is suffering from another disease, such as:
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus)
- Ankylosing spondylitis (arthritis of the spine)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
It has been seen through research that women who have a family member with FM are more likely to develop it. The reason for this is not necessarily hereditary. It may be due to shared environmental factors. Studies are underway trying to prove whether variations in particular genes cause some to be more sensitive to pain overall than those without this gene.
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As mentioned, the most common symptoms are pain and fatigue. Other symptoms may show up:
- Abnormal headaches
- IBS — irritable bowel syndrome
- Morning stiffness
- Tingling and numbness in the extremities
- Painful menstrual periods
- Sensitivity to temperature changes
- Problems sleeping
- Restless leg syndrome
- Cognitive problems and memory issues — often called brain fog
- Sensitivity to loud noises or bright lights
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
The cause of fibromyalgia remains a mystery among those in the medical community. Sometimes it seems to come about with no real cause. There are some theories that abound about what may contribute to it. Such things as the following may be to blame:
- Repetitive injuries
- Illness or infections
- Malfunction of the central nervous system
- Emotional or physical stress or trauma
Research is being done into the role genetics play in fibromyalgia. Several genes have been identified that seem to occur more in those with fibromyalgia than those without. Scientists theorize that these particular genes may regulate the way your body processes painful stimuli. This means if you have fibromyalgia, your body reacts strongly to stimuli that others may not perceive as painful. Many of those with FM also have other chronic pain conditions, as mentioned above. There is no definitive research to deny or confirm that these are connected in origin.
FM is particularly hard to diagnose. You may have to go through a battery of testing before getting the right diagnosis. Other conditions presenting with the same symptoms need to be ruled out in order to get a proper diagnosis. It is important to see a doctor who is familiar with fibromyalgia, however. He or she can make a diagnosis after testing and an examination based on the following criteria:
- Physical symptoms of fatigue, waking up feeling unrested, and memory or thought problems
- The number of spots in the body that you have experienced pain in within the previous week
- A history of widespread pain for at least 3 months
How Fibromyalgia is Connected to Heart Disease
Heart disease can be linked to fibromyalgia. For one thing, chest pain, palpitations, heartburn, and other heart problems can be ignored because of the other symptoms of pain that persist. Another pressing issue has to do with how pain can make it difficult for you to begin an exercise regime. When you do not exercise, this impacts the condition of the heart. Therefore, even light exercise (swimming, walking, stretching, or bike riding) is essential to your heart health whether you have fibromyalgia or not. It has also been seen that light exercise on a regular basis can help with the pain of FM.
Here are few tips to keep the risk of cardiovascular disease lower:
- Keep stress levels low. It is impossible to avoid stress, but limiting stressful situations can help. You can also destress by using breathing techniques and taking part in hobbies and recreation you enjoy.
- Get a good night’s rest. While it may be difficult for those with a pain disorder to sleep well, it is vital for heart health. Many studies point to heart problems as being the basis for sleep apnea, showing how important this connection is.
- Get a massage. This has been shown to lower the heart rate and help you deal with pain.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is another side effect of not getting enough exercise. This puts strain on the heart and makes pain worse as there is more weight on the joints.
Upper Cervical Care and Fibromyalgia
Numerous studies have revealed that upper cervical chiropractic care can help reduce the pain of those with fibromyalgia. Why is this so? The C1 vertebra can have a significant impact on the function of the brainstem. It was created to protect the brainstem, but if it becomes misaligned, the opposite becomes true. It actually puts the brainstem under pressure or stress. This can cause the brainstem to send improper signals to the brain. For example, it may tell the brain there is pain when there actually is no pain. This can lead to the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Here at 1st Place Chiropractic in St. Charles, Illinois, we use a gentle method to help realign this bone. It does not involve popping or cracking the neck to get positive results. Realigning the upper cervical spine can restore proper communication and help the brainstem to perform at its optimum, leading to fewer fibromyalgia symptoms. Some patients see their FM go away completely.
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if you are outside of the local area you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.