If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, no one needs to tell you about the almost daily widespread muscle pain you live with, along with constant fatigue, sleeplessness, fibro fog, and low-grade depression.
The chronic muscle pain of fibromyalgia affects about 1 in 50 Americans — mostly women. Because there is no cure for fibromyalgia and the cause is not understood, the quest to find the best fibromyalgia pain relief is ongoing.
Research shows fibromyalgia may start as young as childhood or the teenage years, particularly in adolescent girls, and it gradually worsens with age. Some findings show that because of the common symptoms, fibromyalgia may be misdiagnosed in mature adults, who often view the mysterious pain in their bodies as just another sign of getting older. Fibromyalgia is not a sign of aging.
Though it’s a commonly underdiagnosed syndrome, fibromyalgia is the most common arthritis-related disease next to osteoarthritis, the wear-and-tear arthritis. Fibromyalgia syndrome is characterized by the following:
- Concentration problems (fibro fog)
- Decreased pain threshold on trigger points
- Higher levels of stress and anxiety
- Incapacitating fatigue
- Increased sensitivities to stimuli in the environment
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Low mood
- Tension headaches and migraines
- TMJ disorder
- Widespread pain
Women are 10 times more likely to get fibromyalgia than men. And there is no specific laboratory test or abnormal X-ray finding that leads to diagnosis.
Researchers believe fibromyalgia may be related to the following:
- Elevated substance P levels, which produce higher levels of pain
- Genetic predisposition (clusters in families)
- Hypersensitivity to pain
- Malfunction of pain processing in the spinal cord
- Nervous system trauma
- Overweight or obesity
- Sedentary lifestyle
Additionally, some research indicates that fibromyalgia pain may be the result of lower levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that sends messages from one brain cell to another. Lower levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin are linked to poor sleep and a lower pain threshold.
The good news is that the different symptoms of fibromyalgia can be managed. Many people find natural remedies for fibromyalgia helpful: About 90 percent of those with fibromyalgia have tried some form of them. There is a growing body of research in support of many nonpharmacologic therapies such as the ones listed below, and many have been shown to be safe. More research is needed though to confirm for which populations it is effective in. Talk to your doctor about what might be most appropriate for you.