I will go out on a bit of a tangent here, but as someone that frequently encounters people suffering from Fibromyalgia, i believe it is necessary to shed some light on this terrible disease and what the people suffering from it actually deals with on a regular basis!
This article will help you understand and maybe be more interactive with this kind of chronic pain sufferers – and also to spread the words on what Fibromyalgia actually is and what some of the invisible symptoms of Fibromyalgia are.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain illness which main symptom is widespread chronic pain and exhaustion/fatigued.
You can trace the existence of fibromyalgia back to the 1800’s, but it wasn’t until our modern age that the academic world has started to understand fibromyalgia and acknowledge it as an independent condition.
At a start, some believed that fibromyalgia was some kind of inflammation in the tendons and the disease was then classified as rheumatic. Research have then proved that fibromyalgia is in fact not a rheumatic disease, but a disturbance in the central nervous system – that it has been overloaded and hypersensitive, which results in it sending uncontrolled and amplified signals of pain to the brain.
Fibromyalgia is often triggered by pain, infection, trauma or any other kind of crisis.
Fibromyalgia starts with local pain in one area of the body, and a physical crisis is usually creating the unbalanced signals of pain over a long period of time while fibromyalgia caused by infection or trauma can arise very suddenly.
The disease is chronic, more often than not sustained throughout a lifetime – even if it sometimes can be alleviated at an older age.
Who is Affected?
According to international statistics, 2-4% of the adult population is suffering from fibromyalgia. According to some sources, even a high number as 10% is discovered.
The majority of the demographic is women (85-90%) but the increased amount of men getting diagnosed with fibromyalgia keeps rising.
The reason fibromyalgia has affected women to a much higher degree is that women have a much lower level of pain resistance and muscle strength than men. Women are also often more exposed to static chores and duties compared to men, which can be a cause of fibromyalgia. Some might even argue that there is genetics involved in the heredity of fibromyalgia.
During the last couple of years, the age for people diagnosed with fibromyalgia has gone down drastically. It’s not uncommon that people at an early age as 20-30 gets diagnosed with the condition.
Approximately 10% of the people diagnosed with fibromyalgia are kids and teenagers.
Keeping this in mind, it is very important to get a proper and correct diagnosis as early as possible whenever the illness is showing – as well as a good exposure to rehabilitation.
The Symptom of Fibromyalgia
The main symptom of fibromyalgia is chronic pain during any kind of rest, as well as an unreasonable feeling of exhaustion. Intense and chronic pain is a stress factor and stress-related symptoms such as headache and abdominal pain are therefore common.
The pain will eventually affect sleep which will undoubtfully lead to even more pain and more stress, causing a moment 22.
The tendon pain affect movement and makes it difficult to move the body unhindered. It’s not uncommon that some tasks are just impossible to go through with, such as running, walking up and down stairs, heavy lifting or even operating a car.
A lot of people, as the list down below illustrates, suffers from cramps and numbness – and a tingling feeling is affecting more than 50% of the people diagnosed, even without them having any nerve damages.
Discover more invisible symptoms of fibromyalgia by scrolling down.
The Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia
The diagnosis of fibromyalgia is what’s called a diagnosis of criteria, meaning that a certain amount of criteria of the disease have to be met in order to clearly determine the diagnosis.
The current criteria for the diagnosis were appointed by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 1990. The diagnosis of fibromyalgia is acknowledged in the whole world.
The reason for using criteria when diagnosing fibromyalgia is that it’s impossible to determine the diagnose through medical examination. The lack of these medical proofs is often the cause of questioning of the existence of fibromyalgia, which is very unfortunate.
There are, however, some testing during research that is giving hope to, in the future, being able to determine the illness through an objectified examination.
The Main Criteria for the Determination of Fibromyalgia
At least three months of general pain in all of the four quadrants, right left upper and lower parts of the body – including acial pain, which is referring to the spine, upper chest and/or the lower back.
Mild to severe pain experienced in at least 11 of the 18 tender points.
The Cause and the Cure
The latest research has shown that scientists are relatively unified in believing that fibromyalgia is caused by an unusual processing of the signals of pain. This is the direct result of a disturbance in the central nervous system.
The pain is herefore not connected to where on the body the pain is experienced.
Why this disturbance of the central nervous system and in the hormone system occurs is yet unknown. There is, however, continual research going on in regards to what is causing fibromyalgia and might hopefully result in any understanding of the cause for the disease.
Because it is not determined what the cause of fibromyalgia actually is, there is no current cure for it either. The main focus at the moment is to alliveate as much of the symptoms as possible, mainly through meditation, physical therapy and different kinds of relaxation exercises. As a result of the different shapes and forms the chronic pain manifests, the treatment may vary from person to person.
19 Invisible Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
As mentioned above, these symptoms may vary a lot from person to person, and they might come and go pretty much as they please.
1. Abdominal Pain
Abdominal pain can take the form of many different kinds of pain. The pain can be caused by constipation, ulcer or even radiating to the spine.
Fibromyalgia can be a huge cause for anxiety but is very individual how this affects a person. While anxiety is something that a lot of people without chronic pain suffers from, this mixed with fibromyalgia can have a really hard impact on everyday life.
Cramps can be a disturbing experience, especially while lying in bed. There is not much to do while a cramp occurs and anyone suffering from this just has to endure the pain. Remember that a cramp that might not affect someone not suffering from fibromyalgia can have a huge impact on someone who does.
4. Chronic Fatigue
This is one of the main symptoms, and most talked about. This is a widespread fatigue that impacts some of the fibromyalgia sufferers the most. This fatigue is hard to understand by someone not suffering and might be the hardest one to grasp for an outsider.
As with anxiety, this is something that a lot of people without chronic pain suffers from, this mixed with fibromyalgia can make even the easiest tasks such as getting out of bed or getting dressed seem pointless and impossible.
6. Difficulty Speaking
This is connected to the exhaustion. When it is hard to focus your thoughts, it is hard to form understandable sentences in your mind, making one insecure and nervous when interacting with people.
This is cause for lack of energy. The amount of sleep doesn’t matter since the fatigue simply comes with the body trying to cope with the illness. This often causes mindless blur of thoughts, making everything from decisionmaking to going to the toilet excruciating.
8. Fibro Fog
A type of cognitive dysfunction reported by many people with fibromyalgia. Also sometimes referred to as brain fog, its symptoms include difficulty with concentration, memory deficits, and confusion. The reason for the changes in brain function with fibromyalgia is not clearly understood.
A headache is often a result of many different factors, such as lack of nutrition, sleep, energy or hydration.
People both suffering from fibromyalgia and insomnia can feel dissatisfied with their sleep and usually experience one or more of the following symptoms: fatigue, low energy, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, and decreased performance. Insomnia can be the result of radiating pain or other types of physical chronic pain. Symptoms such as depression or anxiety can also be connected to insomnia.
Well, as we all know, this is something that can be experienced by anyone and is highly personal – however, irritation can come from nowhere and can be confusing for outsiders that don’t understand the cause of the irritability.
A migraine is characterized by a powerful pulsating headache that comes in spikes. This kind of headache results in nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to noise, daylight and some smells.
The numbness is a direct correlation to the uncontrolled disturbances to the central nervous system. The body just won’t understand where some signals should be sent and when and the nerves just underperforms. Another cause for numbness can be that a nerve is having a problem connecting to the different muscles due to some other factors.
Nausea is something creating a sense of uncomfort and a feeling of lying down. The feeling can be described as the feeling you get after a concussion.
15. Sensitivity to Noise
Sensitivity to noise combined with fibromyalgias other symptoms really heightens the feeling of uncomfort and sensitivity.
16. Slow Digestion
The lack of nutrition the body receives as an effect of this causes other symptoms to have a bigger impact.
17. Tender Joints
Pain within the joint often results in shoulder pain, ankle pain, and knee pain. Joint pain is also referred to as arthralgia.
and a tingling feeling is affecting more than 50% of the people diagnosed, even without them having any nerv damages.
19. Widespread Muscle Pain
An unknown and uncomfortable feeling of muscle pain can be experienced by people with fibromyalgia. This can be combined with the feeling of exhaustion in the muscles, making it really hard to make regular and necessary movements.