Fibromyalgia is the second most common musculoskeletal condition, surpassed only by osteoarthritis.
However, though it is common, it is still quite often misdiagnosed and is still basically misunderstood.
Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread muscle/joint pain, fatigue, and many other symptoms.
Individuals with fibromyalgia are prone to social isolation and even depression.
Fibromyalgia is considered to be a syndrome rather than a disorder.
A syndrome is a set of symptoms, that when existing together, imply that a specific disease is already present or there is the potential for developing the disease.
In the case of fibromyalgia, some combination of the following typically exist together:
- Debilitating fatigue
- Decreased threshold of pain/tender points
- Widespread joint/muscle pain
It is said that over 12 million Americans suffer from this disorder- mostly women between the ages of 25-60.
Research has proven that women are about ten times more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Individuals with fibromyalgia tend to ache from head to toe and also could experience debilitating fatigue- even after getting a full night’s sleep.
Additionally, there are specific tender points on the body that will be painful to the touch.
Additionally, you could experience some swelling, sleep disturbances, and depression or other mood disturbances.
You will feel like your muscles have been pulled or overworked- even when you haven’t exercised or worked hard.
Occasionally, you may experience burning, twitching, or even a deep, stabbing pain in your muscles.
Some patients report that they have a general achiness or even pain in the joints around their neck, back, hips and shoulders. This makes it very hard for them to get sufficient sleep or properly exercise.
Other symptoms of fibromyalgia include the following:
- Pain in the abdomen
- Dryness in the mucous areas of the eyes, nose, and mouth
- Chronic headaches
- Unable to concentrate
- Extremely sensitive to heat/cold
- Numbness/tingling in fingers/toes or hands/feet
Additionally, fibromyalgia can feel sort of like tendonitis, osteoarthritis, or bursitis. In fact, some experts include fibromyalgia in the category of arthritis and other related disorders.
However, pain related to bursitis is localized to a certain area- the stiffness and pain related to fibromyalgia are widespread.
In order to accurately diagnose fibromyalgia, your physician will want to perform a comprehensive physical examination and ask some medical history questions.
There is a blood test available to diagnose fibromyalgia that identifies markers that are produced by your immune system, called FM/a.
However, most insurance plans do not yet cover this and it can be quite expensive in the United States.
In order to eliminate the possibility of a more serious illness, your physician could order some specific blood tests.
For example, he/she may order a CBC, or complete blood count as well as blood tests to look for chemicals such as glucose, which are known to create issues very similar to those of fibromyalgia.
Additionally, a thyroid test could be performed, as hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) could cause issues similar to fibromyalgia, including weakness, fatigue, depression, and muscle aches.
Treating Fibromyalgia Naturally
Since it’s not really clear what exactly causes fibromyalgia, the most you can do is to treat your symptoms.
However, you don’t have to reach for prescription medications to effectively treat these fibromyalgia symptoms. You can treat them naturally by doing the following:
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Making sure to consume healthy, wholesome foods will guarantee that your body will get the nutrients necessary to maintain a properly functioning system. To maintain energy during the day, snack on nuts.
Make sure you drink adequate amounts of water- around 64 ounces daily- to keep your muscles properly hydrated.
If you’re still lacking necessary nutrients, even though you’re consuming a healthy diet, you can add supplements such as Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, and Magnesium, as they have been proven to increase muscle strength and energy.
Set Healthy Sleep Patterns
You may be totally exhausted, but still have difficulty falling or staying asleep. Always make sure to go to bed at the same time every night, even if you’re not tired.
Set your alarm to make sure you wake up at the same time every morning. If you set a pattern and stick to it, you’ll most likely be able to trick your body into a better sleep mode.
Have an Exercise Routine
A sedentary lifestyle can lead to stiffness and weight gain, which makes you feel worse. You should know that you don’t necessarily have to participate in weightlifting or cardio.
A simple early morning or evening walk can be exactly what you need to keep your body loose and provide you with a burst of energy.
However, if your exercise routine isn’t working for you or you can’t get yourself motivated, see your doctor.
A few visits to a physical therapist can often help to create a better treatment program than you could ever do for yourself.
If your fibromyalgia is triggered by a mental/emotional trauma, therapy could be extremely beneficial.
Even if your fibromyalgia isn’t caused by mental/emotional trauma, a therapist can still help you to deal with the emotional symptoms.
In addition to attending therapy sessions, take some time each evening to write down your physical and mental feelings to release your tension.
One of the most useful weapons against fibromyalgia is a positive attitude.
Manage Your Stress
Mental stress or anxiety can cause fibromyalgia symptoms to be worse. In order to naturally deal with this condition, you should include techniques to manage stress into your everyday life.
This can include taking deep breaths when you feel stress rising, or listen to relaxing music to keep stress down. Other ways to reduce stress include:
- Avoid procrastination
- Know your own limitations
- Develop a schedule
Chronic pain can be caused or increased when there is a decrease in spinal mobility.
Getting regular chiropractic adjustments can help to keep your spine in alignment, which helps to reduce the pain.
Please keep in mind that chiropractic care can be risky, so you should only see a licensed professional.
Massage therapy is another natural treatment used for fibromyalgia.
A licensed massage therapist will manipulate the soft tissues in your body, increasing blood flow, promoting healing, and easing your tense muscles.
Additionally, a good massage will prompt your body to release endorphins, which naturally relieve pain.