Nightmare – One word that I have been able to associate with Fibromyalgia. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, it is often a life turning scenario. When you’ve been told that the disorder cannot be cured, what do you do? Well, you look out for natural remedies. With this article, we want to help you understand the problem better, its symptoms, diagnosis and possible fibromyalgia treatment.
Fibromyalgia is a disorder associated with widespread pain all over the body, along with fatigue, altered sleep, mood and memory, among hundreds of other symptoms. The term ‘Fibromyalgia’ can be bisected and understood. ‘Fibro’ in Latin, means the ‘fibrosis tissue’, while ‘myo’ and ‘algia’ are Greek terms that mean ‘muscle’ and ‘pain’ respectively.
There are multiple theories related to the cause and effect of Fibromyalgia. Researchers believe that the disorder amplifies painful sensations by influencing the way your brain perceives and processes pain signals. According to certain theories, this is a result of chemical imbalance in the brain. Some other researchers argue that the disorder is a result of ineffective supply of oxygen to the powerhouse of every cell in your body – Mitochondria.
Some other theories position the argument of a damaged nervous system which leads to incorrect signals being processed by your brain, while some others emphasize on stress as an underlying cause of Fibromyalgia. Either way, it is an extremely painful condition, particularly at tender points, that comes with multiple symptoms. What do these symptoms look like? How does a doctor diagnose Fibromyalgia? Let’s find out.
Symptoms Of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia leads to multiple and varied symptoms among patients across the globe. These include, but are not limited to:
Immense pain all over the body
- Tenderness in the body, particularly at tender points
- Altered sleep and mood pattern
- Depression and anxiety
- Constipation and nausea
- Sensitivity to temperature, sound and light
- Joint stiffness
- Painful menstruation
- Cognitive dysfunction and “fibro fog”
- Tingling sensations
Apart from being associated with multiple symptoms, Fibromyalgia is also associated with several other disorders including Poly-cystic ovarian syndrome, IBS, Depression, Insomnia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and various rheumatic conditions. However, with a varied list of symptoms, it becomes difficult to differentiate between Fibromyalgia and other painful conditions. So, how does a doctor diagnose Fibromyalgia?
Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia
Unfortunately, there is no blood test or scan that can determine the presence of Fibromyalgia. Instead, doctors depend on the symptoms, the patient’s experience dealing with the symptoms, and a few common criteria. The most common criteria include having pain in at least 6 parts of the body, for over 3 months, with no other obvious cause of the pain. Doctors also examine tender points of Fibromyalgia patients that have been clearly defined. Out of the 18 understood tender points in the body, at least 11 should be causing pain and displaying tenderness, to determine the presence of fibromyalgia.
For ruling out other medical conditions, the doctor may ask you to get tested for various disorders. This helps in ensuring that the pain is not being caused by any other underlying medical condition.
Fibromyalgia Treatment and Remedies
You must have heard already, that Fibromyalgia does not have a cure. Since the cause, exact nature as well as diagnosis of Fibromyalgia is pretty unclear, researchers are far from finding a definite cure for the disorder. But where there’s a will, there’s a way! By sitting down hopelessly, you’ll close all doors that can relieve you of your symptoms. Instead, it is genuinely worth every inch to try out each remedy for relieving your symptoms.
- Medication – Fibromyalgia has a set of restricted medicines that may relieve you of some of your symptoms. A rheumatologist may prescribe you Cymbalta, Savella or Pregablin, which are the only 3 FDA approved drugs for Fibromyalgia. Your doctor may also prescribe other anti-inflammatory medicines, anti-depressants or muscle relaxants.
- Meditation – Meditation relieves your stress, while detoxifying your mind and soul. By meditating regularly, you can relieve yourself of a very important cause and effect of Fibromyalgia, that is stress. This shall also help you in relaxing your muscles, thereby relieving you of some pain.
- Sleep – It is very important to get enough sleep that your body needs to function properly. This reduces fatigue and pain, while improving your body functions.
This is a very important aspect of Fibromyalgia treatment. Therapies may include, both physical and mental therapies. Let’s understand a few of the major therapies that are essential for relieving some symptoms of Fibromyalgia.
a. Biofeedback – This involves controlling your breathing, heartbeat, and brain waves with the help of sensors. Biofeedback allows the patient to get feedback on typical body processes, in order to improve body functioning. These functions include improvement in the quality of sleep, self-efficacy, pain threshold, breathing pattern, and mental and emotional adjustment.
b. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – CBT typically involves a psychological change in a patient, that aims to change the way they perceive situations such as pain in their body. This therapy is not just meant to impact you psychologically, but also physiologically. Apart from a few medications and talk therapy, CBT is found to be one of the most impactful therapies for fibromyalgia patients.
c. Talk Therapy – Talk therapy involves a trained psychologist or counsellor who aims to resolve the psychological and emotional aspects of the disorder, through talking sessions. This may help in healing depression, and mood disorders associated with problem, while also improving your sleeping and breathing pattern.
d. Hydrotherapy – Hydrotherapy is a therapy that uses water to treat your pain, motion, and mental health. This could include hot water baths, special stretching sessions under lukewarm water and other activities that have been effective in treating fibromyalgia for several patients. You’re able to stretch better under water, since the pain is reduced. You are also able to release stress and pain off your body, through hydrotherapy.
e. Aroma Therapy – For some patients, certain fragrances heal their system. This varies from one individual to another. For a few patients, lavender relieves stress and pain, while for some it is sandalwood. Based on what suits your body, aroma therapy may help in relieving tension and stress from your body, reducing the intensity of pain being caused in your body.
Other Useful Treatments Possible to Get Relief from Fibromyalgia Pain
Physical Exercise – It is very well known that the condition of Fibromyalgia patients, worsens with immobility. It causes a cycle of more pain, fatigue, and severity of symptoms, that again lead to lack of exercise. This vicious cycle ought to be broken if you want to heal yourself. It is important to practice the right exercise pattern that is suitable to your body’s needs.
- Cardio and Stretching :- Every Fibromyalgia patient has a different threshold and therefore, they must exercise till the time they do not feel increased pain. Exercises could include stretching, aerobics, dancing, swimming, cardio, skipping, jumping, walking or running. However, it is essential to exercise every single day, to prevent your symptoms from increasing in their severity.
- Massage and Acupuncture – Massaging your body with particular oils like lavender oil, peppermint oil and sandalwood oil, relives you of pain and stiffness. It allows you to follow a better sleeping pattern and also relaxes tense muscles. Acupuncture on the other hand, involves inserting needles in your body at specific points to treat pain.
- Breathing Exercises – For relaxing yourself mentally and physically, it is important to perform deep breathing exercises. This opens up your system, while relieving you of some symptoms of the disorder.
Like for any other ailment, the diet that you intake can worsen or improve your symptoms in Fibromyalgia. So, it is essential to follow the right diet for fibromyalgia.
- Avoid trigger items – It is very important to avoid any food items that trigger your symptoms. Some food items known to cause severity of symptoms include gluten containing food, food additives and chemicals and FODMAPs.
- Boost your energy – Fibromyalgia causes tremendous fatigue and pain. It is therefore essential to boost your energy with the help of the right diet. You must increase the intake of good fats and carbohydrates through sources such as almonds, broccoli, tofu, oatmeal, avocado, and beans.
- Fresh fruits and green vegetables – The nutrient rich property of fresh fruits and vegetables makes them the perfect choice for fibromyalgia patients. Anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals help relieve pain and other symptoms from your body.
- Choose whole grain foods – Whole grain food items such as barley, buckwheat, oats, and quinoa provide you with vitamins, minerals and proteins that are required for dealing with fibromyalgia.
- Herbs and spices – Several herbs and spices are known to positively affect your body. Turmeric, bay leaves, and cinnamon among others contain anti-oxidants that help you fight inflammation.
- Avoid red meat and dairy products – Because dairy products and red meat contain saturated fat, it is very unhealthy for fibromyalgia patients to continue intaking these items, if these cause a flare in your symptoms.
- Avoid added sugar and refined starch – Both these elements cause inflammatory disorders, and therefore may worsen your condition. For the right fibromyalgia treatment, it is important to avoid these items.
Hope For Better, Make Things Better!
We have attempted to provide you with the best solutions for fibromyalgia, that may not cure the disorder in its entirety but would help relieve you of most symptoms. While you are dealing with fibromyalgia, and perhaps a new symptom every day, it is important to not lose hope. It is important to believe that you will get better, and work toward getting better with physical exercise, an appropriate diet, a better lifestyle, counselling sessions, and therapies. Remember that we’re in this together, and we’ll all find a way out. The best favor to do to yourself is to believe in a brighter future.
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