I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia shortly after being diagnosed with IC (interstitial cystitis). I was having the wide-spread pain, the designated tender point pain, brain fog and fatigue. I saw a rheumatologist that diagnosed me rather quickly and tacked on chronic fatigue syndrome. I felt I was spiraling out of control. I didn’t know what fibromyalgia was or what I was supposed to do with these diagnoses. I had medical books at home and of course the internet, so after seeing the doctor, I went to my computer and ordered books specific to fibromyalgia and then I began to read.
Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.
The word “fibromyalgia” comes from the Latin term for fibrous tissue (fibro) and the Greek ones for muscle (myo) and pain (algia).
Although fibromyalgia is often considered an arthritis-related condition, it is not truly a form of arthritis (a disease of the joints) because it does not cause inflammation or damage to the joints, muscles, or other tissues. Like arthritis, however, fibromyalgia can cause significant pain and fatigue, and it can interfere with a person’s ability to carry on daily activities. Also like arthritis, fibromyalgia is considered a rheumatic condition, a medical condition that impairs the joints and/or soft tissues and causes chronic pain.
Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.
In addition to pain and fatigue, people who have fibromyalgia may experience a variety of other symptoms including:
- cognitive and memory problems (sometimes referred to as “fibro fog”)
- sleep disturbances
- morning stiffness
- irritable bowel syndrome
- painful menstrual periods
- numbness or tingling of the extremities
- restless legs syndrome
- temperature sensitivity
- sensitivity to loud noises or bright lights.
Doctors don’t know what causes fibromyalgia, but it most likely involves a variety of factors working together. These may include:
- Genetics. Because fibromyalgia tends to run in families, there may be certain genetic mutations that may make you more susceptible to developing the disorder.
- Infections. Some illnesses appear to trigger or aggravate fibromyalgia.
- Physical or emotional trauma. Post-traumatic stress disorder has been linked to fibromyalgia.
Risk factors for fibromyalgia include:
- Your sex. Fibromyalgia is diagnosed more often in women than in men.
- Family history. You may be more likely to develop fibromyalgia if a relative also has the condition.
- Rheumatic disease. If you have a rheumatic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, you may be more likely to develop fibromyalgia
My IC diet was so limited and with fibromyalgia now an issue, I didn’t know if I could give up anything else and so I did not. I suffered greatly with the pain and fatigue. But I read on and educated myself on what fibromyalgia was/is and how it would affect the rest of my life.
I saw my psychologist regularly, when I could get out of bed. I missed plenty of sessions, but made it to enough of them for it to help. She was/is a very understanding person, reminding me to find the positive in every situation. I first started seeing her for my PTSD, which links into the psychological stress that caused fibromyalgia to have been triggered.
Anyone can experience musculoskeletal pain. It is most often caused by an injury to the bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, or nerves. This can be caused by jerking movements, car accidents, falls, fractures, sprains, dislocations, and direct blows to the muscle.
Common symptoms include:
- Localized or widespread pain that can worsen with movement.
- Aching or stiffness of the entire body.
- The feeling that your muscles have been pulled or overworked
- Sleep disturbances
- Twitching muscles
- The sensation of “burning” in your muscles
I have learned that giving up sugar, artificial sweeteners, gluten, MSG, caffeine, nightshade plants and controlling stress are key to relieving symptoms of fibromyalgia. I have a problem giving up these things. Especially stress. I have the fight or flight response to so many things. Usually flight. And now that I’m a diabetic, it seems I crave sugar. I had never craved sugar in my life until becoming diabetic. I don’t like the artificial sweeteners, they make me feel worse almost instantly. And I’ve yet tried to give up gluten, but I think it might be time to give that diet a try.
I hope this article answers some of your questions about fibromyalgia and allows you to pursue a healthy life.