You’ve noticed pain and stiffness in your arms and legs after a long day at work, and you can’t remember a time when you didn’t experience such discomfort. Normally, you plow through it, but it’s getting worse. Now you wonder, is it chronic pain you’re experiencing or some other condition?
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is an ailment that triggers pain all over your body in a phenomenon sometimes called widespread pain. It results in many pain symptoms, including emotional distress and mental anguish. People with fibromyalgia may experience abnormal pain perception processing where they’re more sensitive to pain than others. One study on the science of fibromyalgia said that it intensifies painful feelings by disturbing the way the human brain and spinal cord process pain and non-pain signals.
Fibromyalgia & Other Chronic Pain Types
Fibromyalgia isn’t the only kind of chronic pain that you can be affected by. Many people afflicted with constant, long-term pain have been diagnosed with one or more conditions, such as arthritis, back and neck pain, cancer pain because of tumors, pain from scar tissue, headaches or migraines, and many other variations.
Who gets it?
Anyone can experience fibromyalgia, but women get it more often than men. It can affect you regardless of age, even appearing during childhood, but it typically begins in middle age. The risk of getting fibromyalgia increases with age, and the condition can happen in any person, no matter their racial and ethnic backgrounds. One estimate says the condition affects almost one in 50 to one in 25 people in America, including 4 million adults.
Know the symptoms
Receiving effective treatment for fibromyalgia is possible, with positive outcomes over the course of your life as this isn’t a fatal disease. But getting the most out of a care plan often depends on knowing the symptoms and relaying them to your healthcare provider. Symptoms include things like:
- Chronic, all-encompassing pain
- Fatigue or trouble sleeping
- Muscle and joint problems
- Your skin or limbs are sensitive to touch
- Tingling or numbness in your arms or legs
Alternative Treatment Options
One of the problems with fibromyalgia is that because it’s not a fatal disease, many people don’t take it seriously, including family members, those experiencing it, and healthcare providers. As such, not everyone receives the care they need or deserve, while others turn to alternative or complementary treatment options. In some cases, visiting a specialty clinic with expertise in ketamine therapy may be a viable option because the medicine is known to reduce pain symptoms.
Do We Know What Causes Fibromyalgia?
Like other chronic pain conditions, the origin of fibromyalgia is unknown. People with it experience a heightened pain sensitivity, feeling discomfort when others do not. There could be problems with faulty neurotransmitters like glutamate, which is why ketamine may work to reduce fibromyalgia pain symptoms.
Fibromyalgia appears to have strong family connections, so genetic influences probably contribute to someone getting it, but much is unknown about the precise genes involved.
What Can Trigger an Attack?
Any number of things can trigger an onslaught of fibromyalgia symptoms, resulting in near-debilitating pain. This is especially true in cases where a trigger is stress-based and could include things like:
- Your daily routine has undergone change
- You have poor eating or dietary habits
- Hormone fluctuations
- You have problems sleeping too much or too little
- Work, illness, emotional-related stress
- Your treatment changes
- Sleep patterns are disrupted by work or other responsibilities
- Weather or temperature fluctuations
It’s challenging to prevent a medical condition when you don’t know the cause, but you may be able to minimize fibromyalgia symptoms by trying any of the following:
- Reduce stress
- Make healthy eating choices
- Get more sleep
- Manage your weight
- Manage depression or other pain conditions
- Stay active, and exercise frequently
Diagnosis & Treatment
Standard diagnosis of fibromyalgia symptoms always involved a healthcare provider checking for pain levels in 18 different spots on the body, but new criteria from the American College of Rheumatology changes all that. Now, if you have pain symptoms in more general areas, you may receive a positive diagnosis.
Once diagnosed, your healthcare provider could recommend many treatment options. Possibilities include alternative treatment methods like meditation, psychotherapy, physical or occupational therapy, various dietary supplements, medicine like antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, and store-bought or prescription medication. Another popular option to know about is ketamine infusion therapy, administered intravenously at specialty clinics nationwide. Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition, but its symptoms can be managed.