If you suffer from pain, chances are good you’ve heard of fibromyalgia. Nearly 4% of people suffer from fibromyalgia, making it one of the most common pain syndromes in the world! Although women are 70% more likely to suffer from fibromyalgia than men, the condition hits everyone. Like neuropathy, fibromyalgia can profoundly impact your quality of life, from mobility and strength to living with chronic pain. Fibromyalgia actually presents as SFN (Small Fiber Neuropathy) at least 30% of the time, so misdiagnosis may be more common than once thought.
The most common indicator of fibromyalgia is pain and sensitivity to pressure on the skin. Most sufferers describe the pain as stabbing and shooting, and it can occur all over the body. Fibromyalgia pain is often worse in the mornings, and can vary based on restlessness and even temperature/humidity.
Neuropathic symptoms very frequently accompany fibromyalgia. If you suffer from the condition, you may also be experiencing tingling in your extremities, numbness, the sensation of clothing running over your skin when none is there, and difficulty determining hot and cold in addition to the telltale pressure-sensitivity. Of course, these symptoms can themselves contribute to other problems, such as sleep disturbance, disruption of appetite, and bladder-control problems.
A single cause of fibromyalgia is a point of considerable debate, and has never been decisively established; some researchers even point to the lack of physical abnormalities (although there are definitive nervous system changes) as evidence that it’s a distinct condition. There are commonly-held theories, though, which include:
- Dopamine dysfunction- one of the most common theories explains why fibromyalgia is so frequently found in cases where someone suffers from restless leg syndrome and sleeplessness. These are conditions which result in part from insufficient dopamine in a certain part of the body.
- Stress- Fibromyalgia frequently exists in people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, fatigue, and depression. This has led many researchers to conclude that there is a distinct link between stress and developing fibromyalgia.
- Genetic predisposition- Recent research has suggested fibromyalgia may have a genetic component. The disorder is often seen in families, among siblings or mothers and their children.
- Physical trauma- Physical trauma can act as a trigger for fibromyalgia, research suggests, since it tends to show up for the first time in many cases where a person is suffering from an acute illness or injury.
Fibromyalgia is traditionally treated with a variety of medications ranging from simple pain relievers, antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, and even dopamine agonists. Since the root cause of fibromyalgia is not entirely understood, treatment with pharmaceuticals is usually trial and error at best. Understandably, this has led many doctors and researchers over the past decade to advocate alternative, non-pharmaceutical treatments.
Some of the more modern methods for fibromyalgia treatment include exercise, cognitive behavior therapy, adjustments to diet and lifestyle, electrotherapy, and even massage therapy. Extensive research over the past few years even points to chiropractic and other manual therapies and acupuncture as potential routes for effective treatment.
Our practices promote newer methodologies for treatment, and discourages care that could be ineffective, provide temporary fixes, or even lead to additional complications.
Because everyone who has fibromyalgia experiences different symptoms, it’s very important to have a one-on-one evaluation with someone who really knows the condition. Let our clinicians help!