Fibromyalgia is a disturbing disorder characterized by widespread pain that feels in the muscles and bones of the body. People with fibromyalgia are usually very sensitive to pressure, and a disease is often co-morbid with various psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety, and stress related disorders. Fibromyalgia is often accompanied with many unpleasant side effects, including constant fatigue, sleepiness, tiredness, changes in the mood and changes in the cognitive capacity. It is estimated that fibromyalgia affects 2–4% of the general population, and it is mostly found among women. The disease is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50.
Signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia
The most prominent symptom of this disease is pain. The pain is usually felt in the region of the shoulders, neck, lower back or hips. The pain usually occurs as a response to even the slightest tactile pressure. At the same time, patients may complain about tingling of the skin, muscle spasms, weakness of the limbs, nerve pain, palpitations, chronic sleep problems, muscle twitching, etc. Cognitive dysfunction is also possible and usually includes problems with memory and concentration, impaired speed of performance, feeling of cognitive overload and very low attention span. In many cases, fibromyalgia is associated with anxiety and depression.
Other medical problems that are often attributed to fibromyalgia include myofascial pain, irritable bowel syndrome, dermatological disorders, headaches, and urinary problems.
Causes of fibromyalgia
To this very day, doctors do not know what exactly causes fibromyalgia. It seems like this conation occurs in combination of different factors working together. As far as we know by now, genetic factor seems to be significant, because fibromyalgia sometimes runs in families. The mode of inheritance is yet unknown but there may be a certain genetic mutation that makes people more susceptible to develop fibromyalgia.
Stress is possibly one of the most significant environmental factors. Fibromyalgia is often found co-morbid with stress-related disorders like chronic fatigue, posttraumatic stress disorder, or depression. Insufficient dopamine levels, in certain parts of the brain, have also been proposed as one of the possible causes for this disease. Whatever is the case, it works by increasing the sensitivity in the brain to pain signal. This theory is known as central sensitization, and it assumes that people with fibromyalgia simply have low threshold for pain.
Treatment for this disease usually includes combination of medications (analgesics, antidepressants and anti-seizure drugs), therapy and self-care. Talking with a counselor can dramatically improve one’s state and teach the person how to deal with stressful situations.