Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain and is often accompanied by fatigue, memory, and mood difficulties. The difficulties associated with fibromyalgia can interfere with your day-to-day functioning. Fibromyalgia is often a misunderstood condition, which can lead to frustration and health-related anxiety.
Fibromyalgia symptoms sometimes begin gradually with no triggering event, but for some people, the symptoms of fibromyalgia start after an event, such as physical trauma, infection, psychological stress, etc. The primary symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
Fibromyalgia can coexist with other conditions, such as:
Researchers believe fibromyalgia amplifies pain sensations by affecting how your brain processes painful and non-painful signals.
Nociception refers to your body’s processing of stimuli or information through the central nervous system (your brain and spinal cord) and peripheral nervous system (nerves outside your brain and spinal cord).
Nociception and the experience of pain are not the same for everybody and can change due to a person’s individual experiences. Each person’s brain can process the information sent by nociceptors differently, leading to the generation of more or less pain sensitivity.
Research in pain and fibromyalgia supports that repeated nerve stimulation can cause the brain in people with fibromyalgia to change over time. Additionally, the brain can develop a memory of this pain and become sensitized, meaning it can overreact to painful and non-painful signals. A sensory testing study in fibromyalgia patients found that the patients had altered heat and cold thresholds, a reduced tolerance for pain, and a reduced nociceptive reflex threshold.
This does not mean that the pain a person may experience is not real or exaggerated. Many of our body’s reactions, such as a fast heart rate, sweating, or blushing, are based on emotional stimuli. This “fight or flight” response is an automatic physiological reaction your body has to stressful stimuli such as pain. Because of this phenomenon, it is essential for doctors not to dismiss a patient’s pain when an anatomical or structural cause can not be identified in the diagnostic workup for the pain.
There are likely many factors that can trigger or aggravate these changes in people with fibromyalgia, including your genetics, past infections, and physical or emotional events.
Other risk factors of fibromyalgia include:
Your doctor may first perform tests to rule out other conditions that have similar symptoms to fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is diagnosed when widespread pain throughout your body is present for at least three months, and you must have pain in at least four of these five areas:
While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, a wide variety of therapies can help control symptoms. Lifestyle changes such as exercise and stress-reduction measures also may help.
Fibromyalgia treatments focus on minimizing symptoms and improving general health. A combination of medications and other treatment strategies can positively impact your symptoms.
Medications can help reduce pain and improve sleep. Common choices include:
Self-care is vitally important in the management of fibromyalgia. Lifestyle choices such as stress management, sleep hygiene, and exercise are important aspects of your fibromyalgia treatment regimen.
A variety of different therapies can help reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Examples include:
re-origin is a science-based, self-directed neuroplasticity training program and supportive community designed to help people suffering from chronic conditions. The goal of re-origin is to educate and guide you through the concepts of neuroplasticity and how to retrain your brain to respond differently to adverse stimuli.
Understanding neuroplasticity. The training program includes interactive modules, specially designed worksheets, and self-assessment quizzes where you’ll learn:
Connecting with a Community. You’ll join a curated uplifting community with weekly group coaching calls, live Q&As and online events.
Group coaching or “Momentum Sessions” to inspire motivation & accountability through weekly “momentum group” coaching calls.
It is important to understand the content in re-origin is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for a medical diagnosis, treatment, or advice. Your doctor should always be involved in the management of any health conditions. Consult with your doctor prior to starting re-origin to discuss a plan for your overall health.
If you are having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, a mental health professional can help. If you are having thoughts of suicide, a mental health professional can help. The American Society for Suicide Prevention provides direct services dedicated to crisis intervention. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones. Call or text 988 or text TALK to 741741.
No matter how long you’ve been living with fibromyalgia, you can manage your symptoms by addressing them at their core. With patience and repetition, the changes in your brain will start to reflect outwardly in reducing your fibromyalgia symptoms.
Fibromyalgia affects the muscles and joints. People often describe fibromyalgia pain as a constant, dull ache. The pain is widespread, meaning it occurs in several different regions of the body at once.
Never assume that the pain you’re experiencing is fibromyalgia without visiting a doctor. A medical professional can take your medical history and assess your symptoms. If other medical conditions are ruled out and you’ve been experiencing pain in four out of the five regions outlined by the American College of Rheumatology for at least three months, you’ll likely be diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
Yes, fibromyalgia is considered a type of chronic pain, meaning that it lasts for longer than three months.
Fibromyalgia symptoms vary from person to person, however, the most debilitating symptoms associated with fibromyalgia generally include widespread pain, fatigue, brain fog, and mood issues.