Not much is known about fibromyalgia, yet it is a prominent and plaguing ailment that affects between 5 and 6 million people in the United States alone.
If you are one of those people, then you know the frustrations and chronic pain that come along with living with this condition, as well as the disgruntlement of knowing that diagnosis is difficult and there isn’t a definite cure.
This is all disheartening and upsetting, however, experts are researching the condition thoroughly and are working very hard towards figuring out the causes, as well as a cure.
What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is not thought of as a disease by some people, but rather a chronic disorder. As stated before, there is not a whole lot that is known about the disorder, however, there is always speculation.
According to some research that has been done over the years, it is actually a result of abnormal responses of parts of the brain to stress.
We do know that certain types of stress can trigger the onset of certain symptoms, however, it is uncertain whether or not this is the actual cause or not.
There is a variety of symptoms that manifest themselves in those who suffer from fibromyalgia. However, some people have different symptoms, as well as different severities of symptoms than others.
This is one point that makes it difficult for doctors and experts to diagnose. However, there are a few very common, as well as universal symptoms that come along with this disorder. One of them being chronic pain.
In those who suffer from fibromyalgia, pain is a common denominator. Sufferers experience chronic and severe pain that is located in tender points.
These tender points pain stems from the muscles in the area. There is rarely any joint pain, swelling, knots, or nodes.
People with fibromyalgia describe the pain as a burning or aching sensation, coupled with the stiffness of the muscles, and many of them report feeling some pain all the time.
Fatigue and Trouble Sleeping
Fibromyalgia sufferers also almost always report constant fatigue. Even when they have rested, they still feel exhausted, and some even describe the fatigue being worse than the pain.
Many people with this syndrome have trouble sleeping due to a number of reasons; one of which being restless leg syndrome.
As we have found out through extensive research, lack of sleep can severely lower our immune systems and chances of fighting off illness and disease.
Therefore, the lack of sleep and the fatigue experienced by people with fibromyalgia may contribute to the severity of the illness.
Depression and Mood Alterations
Some other common symptoms related to fibromyalgia are mood and behavioral changes and depression. Almost two-thirds of those who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia have also been diagnosed with depression and/or anxiety.
Some other symptoms that people might suffer with when they have fibromyalgia are headaches, stiffness, sensitivity to temperature, numbness, and tingling in the hands and feet, painful menstruations, amongst many others.
While the exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, there have been many speculations over the years. There are, however, some known triggers that can cause fibromyalgia to surface.
These can include PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), car accidents, abuse, interrupted sleep, etc. Again, those are only triggers.
They are not actual causes of the ailment that affects millions of people’s lives.
Recently there has been talking of the discovery of the actual cause of fibromyalgia. Some experts are stating that the issue stems from an excessive amount of nerve fibers in the bodies of those with fibromyalgia.
According to some recent studies conducted on the hands of fibromyalgia patients, there are more nerves located in their hands than in those of other people.
What do nerves have to do with fibromyalgia and the chronic pain that goes along with it? Basically what we are looking at are problems with blood flow.
Our blood vessels carry blood from your heart throughout our entire body, however, this is not their only function. By doing so, they regulate our body temperature and functions.
People with fibromyalgia have more nerves connecting with these blood vessels, meaning more sensory input. Now, if we think about it, more sensory input means more sensitivity to heat or pain.
In response to the extra sensitivity, a person’s body who is affected by fibromyalgia may not be able to correctly regulate their body temperature.
This, in turn, can affect the flow of the blood throughout the blood vessels. A person’s body temperature has a direct effect on their blood flow, and if your body temperature is low because of sensitivity to heat, then your blood flow will be slowed down.
One of the blood’s main functions is to transport oxygen throughout the body, including the muscles. Think about what happens to you when you do not have enough oxygen. You feel weak and your chest begins to ache.
This is the same thing that happens to the muscles when they do not have enough blood and oxygen flowing to them.
The muscle functions will greatly decrease, and it will likely cause muscle pain and weakness. Also, a lack of oxygen can cause fatigue and lower the effectiveness of other bodily functions, as well.
While there are still many theories yet to be explored and proven about the general facts and causes of fibromyalgia, a lot of progress has been made.
The discovery of excessive nerves in the hands of fibromyalgia patients and the constricted blood flow due to these nerves affecting the blood vessels could be the beginning of a whole new line of studies on the subject.
It could possibly open up new areas of treatments, as well as a new understanding of the condition.
For so many years it has been overlooked and underestimated, while millions of people have suffered the pain it bestows.
However, there are new doors opening in the way of research and investigation that will hopefully allow us a better understanding of the causes of this condition and what can be done to treat it.