Fibromyalgia patient describes the pain she experiences
Fibromyalgia is defined by the NHS as a “long-term condition that causes pain all over the body.”
Its symptoms tend to be experienced by the sufferer between the ages of 20 and 60, though the condition is more common with increasing age.
Widespread pain in the body is experienced by sufferers, but this can vary depending on the person.
It can often force people into early retirement, according to FMA UK, the society aiming to raise awareness of the condition in the UK, which can lead to anxiety or depression.
Around 800,000 people in the UK suffer from the condition each year, according to Fibromyalgiasyndrome.co.uk. It used numbers from NIAMS (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, based in the USA), which estimated that one in every 73 people worldwide have the condition.
There are several possible causes of the condition.
BUPA has said that doctors are “currently investigating” the cause, and identifies a few possible causes.
“People living with fibromyalgia have high levels of certain pain chemicals in their nervous system,” reads their website.
“They also have low levels of chemicals that can damp down a pain response. For these reasons, it seems possible that, if you have fibromyalgia, you have a heightened sense of pain that lasts longer than usual.”
Fibromyalgia: Doctors don’t know what causes it
Fibromyalgia: One cause may be sleep deprivation
People living with fibromyalgia have high levels of certain pain chemicals in their nervous system
“Some people with fibromyalgia have been through a traumatic event before the condition begins, such as a car accident or serious illness. It’s possible that events like this may trigger the start of [the condition].”
The condition has often been confused with rheumatoid arthritis because they have similar symptoms.
Arthritis Research UK says on its website that “research suggests that there’s an interaction between physical, neurological and psychological factors.”
“Some researchers have shown using special brain scans that [mental] processes are altered in people with fibromyalgia.”
“Sleep disturbance may also contribute to this increased sensitivity. Brainwave studies show that people with fibromyalgia often lose deep sleep.”
Fibromyalgia: disturbed sleep at work
It goes on to discuss a study where healthy volunteers were woken during each period of deep sleep, causing a number of them too develop typical symptoms of the condition. This may suggest a link between disturbed sleep and fibromyalgia.
Julie Ryan, a blogger who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2010, says that sleep deprivation “is a fact of life” for people with the condition.
She spent a good seven years living with major sleep issues, which may have contributed to her condition.
She also mentioned in her most recent blog post that Fibromyalgia sufferers live with “generalised hyper-vigilance.
“[This means] that our bodies are a state of hyper-awareness, constantly sensing threats when threats aren’t there.