10 million Americans with Fibromyalgia (FMS) have a shared experience of living with pain. But what do we really know about Fibromyalgia? - A great thing for all to know which can help is to know, what fibromyalgia pain feels like...
In This Article You Will Learn:
- About Fibromyalgia
- What causes Fibromyalgia
- Fibromyalgia Symptoms
- Types of Fibromyalgia Pain
- How Can Fibromyalgia Be Diagnosed
- How Do You Treat Fibromyalgia
- Is D Ribose Effective with Fibromyalgia
- Fibromyalgia in Men
- FIbromyalgia in Women
‘I have Fibromyalgia and my normal existing is being sick every day, or feeling hungover — that’s how I live.’
‘Pain has always been my normal, which is actually not normal at all.’
‘Living with a Fibromyalgia is ruining my life’
- About Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia, also known and referred to as Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS), is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body. It is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues and more.These can all be severe, Deanna B of The Mighty Community has described exactly what Fibromyalgia pain feels like when she said ’ “You know how your body feels after that first intense workout? When it’s excruciating to move and all your muscles are painful to the touch? Imagine having that pain for the rest of your life. Never going away. Combined with such severe joint pain, they feel like glass rubbing together when you move. Then when someone touches you, it feels like you’ve been electrocuted, and this sharp jolt of pain runs to your spine.”
Alarming as this sounds, this is true and those that are suffering often are unaware of others having the same symptoms and also how they may be treating them. Researchers believe that Fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.
The word Fibromyalgia literally means pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons. Contrary to popular belief, Fibromyalgia is not an autoimmune disease. Though many of their symptoms overlap, there is not sufficient evidence which can prove this.
(Photo Credit: https://www.medicalbreakthrough.org)
2. What Causes Fibromyalgia
The exact cause of Fibromyalgia is still unknown but there have been a number of factors to consider. Fibromyalgia causes involved chemical imbalances, abnormal pain messages, genetics, trauma and stress.
Chemical Imbalances: According to research, one common laboratory result that people with Fibromyalgia have are abnormally low levels of the hormone serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine in their brains.. These hormones play a role in processing pain messages sent by the nerves. Low levels of these hormones may be a key factor in the cause of Fibromyalgia, as they're important in regulating things such as mood.
Abnormal Pain Messages: The central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves) transmits information all over your body through a network of specialised cells. Changes in the way this system works may explain why Fibromyalgia results in constant feelings of, and extreme sensitivity to, pain.
Genetics: Currently, Fibromyalgia is considered to result from an interaction between genetic factors and environmental factors. Earlier researchers discovered evidence of the likelihood of a genetic background to the disease. This means that genetics may play a small part in the development of Fibromyalgia, with some people perhaps more likely than others to develop the condition as a result of their genes. We could also say that due to genetics many people may be predisposed to Fibromyalgia, and they develop their condition after some sort of trigger. Possible triggers involved may be: injury, a viral infection, a conceived or real threat against self such as operation, break-up, being in abusive relationship, and even death of a loved one.
Trauma and Stress: Traumatic experiences during childhood have previously been overlooked as predisposing factors in the development of Fibromyalgia. However, recent research revealed that childhood trauma can greatly affect adult health. It is noteworthy that during those formative years,the central nervous system is rapidly developing and being conditioned to respond to various stimuli and stressors that are encountered in life.
For every stimuli encountered, the brain will create a response to each stimulus. A frightening experience will create and exercise pathways that respond in fear. And as we grow older, it is more difficult to develop new pathways and adjust our brain’s responses to these stimuli. When the brain receives the stimuli, the body will respond by producing hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline). These hormones are responsible for the traditional “fight-and-flight” response to traumatic or dangerous stressors.
When the stress response is over activated during childhood, it becomes hypervigilant and has difficulty maintaining balance in adulthood. Fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome are two examples of hypervigilant neurological responses. Normal stimuli such as wind blowing in the face or clothing rubbing against the skin can produce painful sensations in those with Fibromyalgia, illustrating an exaggerated pain response.Anger. An interesting study conducted in 2010 shows that repressed anger can heighten symptoms of Fibromyalgia. The European Journal of Pain conducted a 28-day study involving 333 older women with Fibromyalgia (average age 47). The study aimed to examine whether anger during the everyday life of someone with Fibromyalgia amplified pain and whether repressing anger or expressing anger had a link to the level of pain they experienced. The researchers found out that the trait anger was related to experiencing heightened chronic pain. The more that anger was expressed the less pain. On the other hand, those who repressed anger felt more pain.
3. Fibromyalgia Symptoms
Fibromyalgia pain is often associated pain all over your body where even light pressure can cause pain. It is not uncommon for people with Fibromyalgia to complain of painful skin form the touch of their own clothing. Research has shown that patients with Fibromyalgia often see several different doctors before receiving their diagnosis. The symptoms of Fibromyalgia often mimic other health problems, which can make diagnosis difficult and is often the reason this can take longer to diagnose.
Understanding the symptoms can help the patient identify their diagnosis earlier, so they are able to find a way to control this pain. If you find your muscles aching on a constant basis with no obvious external causes, test yourself against these major Fibromyalgia symptoms and should you fit all or most of them, mention them on your next visit to your doctor and trey to rule out all other causes.
Major and Definitive Symptoms of Fibromyalgia include:
· Fatigue. People with Fibromyalgia often awaken tired. They report sleeping for long periods of time but often this sleep is disrupted by pain.
· Cognitive difficulties. Sometimes referred to as "fibro fog" you have impaired ability to focus, pay attention or the ability to concentrate on mental tasks.
· Pain. The pain associated with Fibromyalgia is often described as a constant dull ache that has lasted for at least three months.
Generally, Fibromyalgia is a tough condition to deal with and is an illness of pain. Importantly, what that feels like can be quite different from person to person due to the fact that there are so many different types of Fibromyalgia categorized by the different types of pain .
4. Types of Fibromyalgia Pain
Hyperalgesia. "Hyper" means excess and "algesia" means pain. Hyperalgesia is the medical term for pain amplification in FMS. Our brains appear to take normal pain signals and "turn up the volume," making them more severe than they would normally be.
Neuropathic Pain . This is often described as tingling, burning, itching, or numbness in the arms and legs. Sometimes, these sensations can be painful.
Headache Pain. Headaches, though common in general, can also be associated with Fibromyalgia. Tension headaches are the most common type experienced by those with FMS. Tension headaches cause a dull tightening pressure sensation all around the head and while uncomfortable they are not disabling.
Abdominal and Pelvic Pain. People with Fibromyalgia are 50% more likely than people without it to develop abdominal pain and bloating. Besides abdominal pain, people with Fibromyalgia may also experience pelvic pain, especially discomfort that comes from the bladder.
Joint Pain Fibromyalgia joint pain and a sensation of swelling are also common. More specifically, pain located at the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which connects your jaw to your skull on either side of your face, is common. TMJ pain or jaw Pain is often described as a dull, persistent ache that can move to the ear, temple, around the eyes, the lower jaw, or back of the neck.
Swelling Pain One may ask ‘ can Fibromyalgia cause swelling ’ , we need to remember that unlike autoimmune diseases, there is no actual joint swelling or inflammation in Fibromyalgia.
Widespread Muscle Pain People living with Fibromyalgia often feel like always having a flu, or "hurting all over." Persistent muscle and soft tissue pain (sometimes referred to as myofascial pain) is commonly described as a deep and gnawing soreness, stiffness, aching, or throbbing all over the body, including the pain in arms,pain in legs, pain in neck, and pain in shoulders—is a characteristic feature of Fibromyalgia. To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist.
Many are most often bothered by:
- Allodynia—skin sensitive touch or painful skin
- Back pain or Lower back pain, which may radiate into the hips causing pain in hips, legs
- Foot pain Neck pain, Pain and tightness in the neck that moves across the back of the shoulders
- Chest pain, suggestive of symptoms of costochondritis (breast pain or Fibromyalgia in breast); This pain can also be described as pain in ribs.
Another important fact is that Fibromyalgia pains can flare up, some even refer to it as Fibromyalgia attacks. Stressful events may trigger a Fibromyalgia flare-up. And when it does, symptoms temporarily increase in the number or intensity, it is called a flare or flare-up and this can happen without warning. Additional symptoms may also occur during flare-ups these flare-ups, including poor sleep, trouble thinking (cognitive dysfunction), digestive difficulty such as acid reflux, swollen extremities, and numbness and tingling.
And how long does a Fibromyalgia attack last ? A Fibromyalgia attack or flare-up can last anywhere from a few days to weeks at a time.
5. How Can Fibromyalgia Be Diagnosed
The real question is ‘Can Fibromyalgia be diagnosed?’ Well, because pain is subjective and highly personal, diagnosing Fibromyalgia can be very difficult. Routine lab tests do not detect the widespread pain of Fibromyalgia.
Instead, the diagnosis is made by a physical exam of pressure points that takes about five minutes. When light pressure is applied to the surface of the muscles throughout the body, patients with Fibromyalgia find this painful, especially at the specific tender point areas used for diagnosis.
Based on the CDC's 1994 guidelines ; to meet the Fibromyalgia criteria for diagnosis, patients must have:
A. Widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum of three months
B. At least 11 of the 18 specific tender points
The 18 sites used for the Fibromyalgia diagnosis cluster around the neck, shoulder, chest, hip, knee, and elbow regions. The finger pressure that your doctor must apply to these areas during an exam is just enough to cause the nail bed to blanch or become white.
Tender Points Vs. Fibromyalgia Trigger Points
Trigger points are firm nodules that you can often feel in your tight, rope-like muscles. Pressing on a trigger point hurts in the area and also shoots pain to other regions, while pressing on a tender point is believed to only cause discomfort to the local area.
However even with such guidelines, a 100% accuracy is still impossible. Thus continuous studies are made to create a confirmative Fibromyalgia test. But these test are only 90% accurate and cost up to $600.The journey to an accurate diagnosis of Fibromyalgia can be long and arduous.
6. How Do You Treat Fibromyalgia
Can Fibromyalgia be cured? can Fibromyalgia go away? Sadly even with technological advances, the cure for Fibromyalgia is still unknown. But if you’re asking can you treat Fibromyalgia or how to treat Fibromyalgia the answer is endless and sometimes even overwhelming. But within this article we make sure to only give you concise and effective treatment choices.
To start with, you need to understand that the treatment of Fibromyalgia may involve a multi-faceted approach.
Fibromyalgia Trigger Points Massage. One of the more popular approaches is Fibromyalgia trigger points massage, which involves working out the trigger points to try to get the muscles to relax. Anything that eases muscle tension, such as a hot shower or soaking in a hot tub, will reduce the impact of the trigger points. Unlike tender points, trigger points cause a restricted range of motion (muscle tightness) and they radiate pain to other areas of the body. Watch this video below to learn how you can do it at the comforts of your home .
- Exercise and other physical activities. Exercise is another way to combat Fibromyalgia fatigue and improve your energy. Of course, it is hard to exercise with Fibromyalgia, so try low impact activities, such as walking, biking, and swimming (“Fibromyalgia: What Does the Research Literature Say About Exercise for Persons with Fibromyalgia?” National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability. http://www.nchpad.org/160/1204/Fibromyalgia .)
- Clean and Calm Lifestyle. Another approach would involve Fibromyalgia natural treatment which is a change in lifestyle involving natural diet and purifying your environment. Most Fibromyalgia support groups also encourage to cultivate calm, which is the latest treatment for Fibromyalgia in natural approach category. To jumpstart your pursuit of this new lifestyle, here’s a short guide how to go organic without drastically changing your budget.
- Standard Treatment. Standard treatments for Fibromyalgia include painkillers, antidepressants, and anti-seizure drugs. These can help reduce symptoms like pain, fatigue, and insomnia however these can be very expensive as well as include some side effects. The use of supplements and vitamins has also been successful in reducing Fibromyalgia symptoms. See more details below.
Natural and Holistic Treatment. Naturopathic and holistic physicians use many individual nutrients and botanicals as Fibromyalgia natural treatment of their patients with Fibromyalgia. They include magnesium, CoQ10, malic acid, vitamin D, resveratrol, carnitine, and herbs like Rhodiola, Licorice, and Ginseng. All of these have their place but what is found to be most effective especially in working with the most challenging cases is D Ribose. This natural supplement can be the single most important nutrient for alleviating symptoms and helping patients get back on a path towards good health. Refer also below.
Panax ginseng - You can use 1 teaspoon of chopped, boiled root to make 1 cup of tea. A study on Panax ginseng use in people with fibromyalgia indicated that it is effective for reducing pain, and the number of tender points found on the body.
St. John’s Wort - It can reduce inflammation for Fibromyalgia sufferers but it can negatively interact with certain medications, including antidepressants and birth control pills, so it’s important to discuss its use with your doctor.
Acetyl L-carnitine (ALCAR) ALCAR is an amino acid produced naturally by the body. A study, reported in Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology, indicated that ALCAR may reduce pain and depression in people with fibromyalgia. But researchers indicated that more studies are needed.
SAMe (S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine). It may boost levels of serotonin and dopamine, another brain chemical. Limited research suggests SAMe may improve mood and sleep.
Alpha-lipoic acid. ALA can be taken as a supplement in capsule form or via injection. Due to alpha-lipoic acid’s positive effect on diabetic nerve pain, a trial study is currently underway, designed to analyze its potential for reducing pain in people with fibromyalgia.
Rhodiola Rosea. Although there is yet no research made, Rhodiola rosea, by increasing energy, helps relieve fatigue from people with fibromyalgia..
Phosphatidylserine -Phosphatidylserine is a supplement that is currently being talked about in the health community, especially those who are seeking to improve their cognitive function. Due to this reason many Fibromyalgia sufferers take this supplement as their way to fight fibro Fog.
D Ribose- see next section
7. Is D Ribose Effective with Fibromyalgia
D-ribose is a supplement that's sometimes recommended as a treatment for people with Fibromyalgia. D Ribose is a kind of sugar that is produced by the body to be the bodies natural energy source in the cells known as ATP.
Fibromyalgia is said to be strongly associated with decreased mitochondrial function ( the power station is the bodies cells) and declining tissue levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP, the bodies natural energy source).
As cellular energy is depleted, fatigue and muscle pain become more and more severe and the muscles require additional energy in their recovery efforts. Energy as fuel is used faster than the fuel is made available to renew it, and the fatigue, soreness, pain and stiffness progress.
In essence, Fibromyalgia represents a state where the mechanisms for energy recovery are overwhelmed. One therapeutic option is to try to restore these energy substrates in order to recover the function of the cell, including muscle cells. By supplementing with ribose, it is possible to preserve and build cellular energy stores, thereby promoting a quicker more efficient tissue recovery. Source:(Pouleur H. Eur Heart J. 1990; 11(Suppl): 30–34; Pasque M, Wechsler A. Ann Surg. 1984; 200: 1–10. Perlmutter N, et al. J Nucl Med. 1991; 32: 193–200).
To briefly point out the features of this study, published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, it concluded that D ribose benefits on Fibromyalgia are the following:
Improved sleep quality- sleeping with Fibromyalgia is quite a challenge due to the suppression of brain activities. But because of the supplementation of D Ribose, people with Fibromyalgia have shown to have improved their sleep quality
Improving mental clarity- because of the improved oxidation on the cellular level,the brain can now focus better and combat brain fog (better brain communication)
Lowering pain intensity- Fibromyalgia sufferers who have tried Dribose report that they don’t get the Fibromyalgia flare-ups that usually come with strenuous exercise.
Increasing energy levels and Improving overall well being - Using D-Ribose for Fibromyalgia fills that role by helping your muscles recover and get the energy they need to deal with daily activities. This brings a lot of positivity for Fibromyalgia sufferers as they are able to achieve and accomplish more.
How to take D Ribose
D-ribose is widely available in the form of a dietary supplement. Early research suggests that taking DRIBOSE by mouth can improve energy, sleep, and offer a sense of well-being and decrease the pain in people with Fibromyalgia. One of the most common ways to get it is in a powder although this takes time to prepare and may not be as popular.
D Ribose capsules are easier to use and can be more reliable as the dosage requirements can’t be measured as accurately with powder. Taking D Ribose in a capsules form is portable easy and you get this added benefit.
To help you get started we have listed the Top 3 performing D Ribose supplements on Amazon:
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I use D-Ribose Tablets every day for energy and overall health. The only thing that could improve it is to made it softer and easily dissolvable in the mouth.
I always remember to take this product before working around the yard. I have found that it reduces leg cramping. I take one in the morning and one at evening when I have worked hard during the day.
Since starting D-Ribose, I've started walking my dog every day. With chronic fatigue I go through phases of needing to nap every day after work. I could be on an upswing, it could be the ribose. I will post again in a month or 2 and let you know if it's still working.
This really seems to help with my energy level! It was recommended by my integrative medicine doctor to take 3xday, but I've found more than 2xday upsets my stomach a little. Very happy with it otherwise :)
8. Fibromyalgia in Men
Often thought of as a ‘woman’s disease,’ Fibromyalgia can attack men differently. Men may also have a tougher time getting diagnosed. Men often have fewer symptoms than women. They tend to have less fatigue and they have pain in fewer places which may make it more difficult to diagnose. If you are wondering if what you are experiencing is Fibromyalgia already, it is better for you to take this Fibromyalgia test https://www.fibrocenter.com/fibromyalgia-pain-assessment
9. Fibromyalgia in Women
While anyone can get Fibromyalgia, 80-90% of known fibromyalgia sufferers are women. One possible explanation for this gender bias are the hormones involved. It has been observed that fibromyalgia peaks in women during the reproductive years. Many women complain that fibromyalgia pain is worse just before and during their periods. This may be due to hormone fluctuations — estrogen plummets right before menstruation and begins to rise again after a woman's period is over.
A 2015 study found that women with fibromyalgia are also more likely to have frequent symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and painful menstrual periods. Women in the study group were found to experience extreme lower abdominal and lower back pain for two days before menstruation.
Most women with Fibromyalgia are also between the ages of 40 to 55 years old. Fibromyalgia symptoms may feel worse in women who are postmenopausal or are experiencing menopause.
Many people with Fibromyalgia still continue to work full or part time. In this case, it would be wise to explain Fibromyalgia at work to give people at work a better idea of what you are feeling each day. Ask your boss if you can take rest periods on bad days or perhaps ask if you can take work home if you are feeling fatigued. Taking a midday nap helps many people with Fibromyalgia and other chronic health conditions function on the job. While the chronic pain and fatigue associated with Fibromyalgia can make it difficult to keep a job natural treatment may help you manage this.
The symptoms of fibromyalgia often mimic other health problems. The pain experienced can be quite different from person to person due to the fact that there are so many different types of Fibromyalgia categorized by the different types of pain . This alone makes diagnosis sometimes difficult. Although understanding the symptoms can help identify the diagnosis earlier, they can also be improved by using carefully selected dietary supplements. Among all other supplements, one stands out to be popular for Fibromyalgia and found to be most effective is D Ribose. D-ribose can greatly improve the energy; sleep; mental clarity; pain intensity; and well-being of fibromyalgia sufferers. It can be taken either in capsules or powder form but it is highly recommended to take them in capsules form to ensure exact dosage and to make this as easy as possible during your day. Using D Ribose together with any of Rhodiala, Phospahtidyleserine and CoQ10 can also be very useful and beneficial.
The bad news is there is no cure for Fibromyalgia however the good news is there are effective steps you can take to relieve Fibromyalgia pain and hence stopping it from feeling like a disability. This is done by living a lifestyle with exercise, dietary supplements, relaxation and stress-reduction which can certainly help in reducing chronic pain issues.Hopefully this blog helps to guide you in this life journey with Fibromyalgia so that you can live your life with less pain and less interruptions.