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Frequently Asked Questions
What is Fibromyalgia?Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals. Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event. Women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than are men. Many people who have fibromyalgia also have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression. While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, a variety of medications can help control symptoms. Exercise, relaxation and stress-reduction measures also may help. Reference: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354780
What causes Fibromyalgia?The short answer is that we really do not know what causes fibromyalgia. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases of the National Institute of Health says: Trauma “The causes of fibromyalgia are unknown, but there are probably a number of factors involved. Many people associate the development of fibromyalgia with a physically or emotionally stressful or traumatic event, such as an automobile accident. Some connect it to repetitive injuries. Others link it to an illness. For others, fibromyalgia seems to occur spontaneously.” Problems in Pain Processing “Many researchers are examining other causes, including problems with how the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) processes pain.” Genes “Some scientists speculate that a person’s genes may regulate the way his or her body processes painful stimuli. According to this theory, people with fibromyalgia may have a gene or genes that cause them to react strongly to stimuli that most people would not perceive as painful. There have already been several genes identified that occur more commonly in fibromyalgia patients, and NIAMS-supported researchers are currently looking at other possibilities.” The United Kingdom’s National Health Service lists these as the causes: Abnormal pain messages Chemical imbalances which regulate mood, appetite, sleep, behavior and stress responses. Sleep problems Genetics Possible triggers. These include an injury, viral infection, giving birth, breakdown of a relationship, being in an abusive relationship, death of a loved one.
What is the prognosis for Fibromyalgia?Will Fibromyalgia get better over time? Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease and you may live with it forever. But it may get better as you learn to take actions to help yourself as you understand it better. The Good News According to the US National Institute of Health, fibromyalgia is not a progressive disease. is never fatal will not cause damage to the joints, muscles, or internal organs. In many people, the condition does improve over time. These reassurances can help you look on the bright side.
What is the difference between Fibromyalgia and Arthritis?Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis are different diseases but they can occur together. Here’s the difference: Rheumatoid vs Arthritis Symptoms RA can impair your muscles and joint, while the pain from fibro does not damage them. Fibro patients have trouble sleeping while RA patients do not. RA is slowly progressive, while fibro is episodic. Without treatment, RA symptoms worsen. Serious cases can damage major organs. If your joints are red and swollen, you have RA. Source: Signs and Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis vs Fibromyalgia Learn more at these links: Arthritis Foundation. Fibromyalgia and Arthritis Women’s Health Advice What is the Difference between Fibromyalgia and Arthritis
How to obtain relief for Fibromyalgia?Dealing with chronic pain can drag you down physically and emotionally. It can make your quality of life much less than it should be. Here are several things you can do to help you feel better: Have a massage. A massage can help alleviate aches and pains and make you feel brand new again. Use a massage therapist who understands your chronic pain and who can do their job without exacerbating any of your pain. There are many types of massage therapy, some of which are better for chronic pain than others, a professional will know exactly what to do. Join a support group. Many hospitals, HMOs, and community centers offer support groups for those who deal with chronic pain. You can hear from others in situations similar to yours and can learn tips for dealing with pain you may not know about. You can also share your feelings about your pain with those who understand exactly what you have been going through and find comfort in the support you receive and also give. Engage in exercise. It has been scientifically proven that mild to moderate physical activity can lessen the feelings of chronic pain. It can strengthen your muscles, lubricate your joints, and improve your mental outlook so that you can tolerate the pain for the rest of the day. Try a mild to moderate exercise like walking or bicycling that can engage your muscles without putting a lot of pressure on your joints. Additionally, a recent study showed that short bursts of daily movement throughout the day helps improve chronic pain, like that seen in Fibromyalgia. This means taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking more and anything that involves short periods of movement throughout the day. Eat healthy. Foods like fruits, vegetable, whole grains and lean meats are simple choices that keep you from eating processed foods that cause inflammation in the body that promotes chronic pain. A healthy diet filled with whole food has been associated with decreased inflammation and a relief of chronic pain symptoms. Avoid processed foods. Foods that have been made in factories have trans fats and other preservatives that can build up in your system, worsening your pain, weighing you down and causing weight gain that makes chronic pain worse. They also prevent you from maintaining a healthy weight, which helps your joints be less stressed. Always read product labels and look for foods that are free of fat and preservatives. Maintain a healthy weight. Keeping your body mass index between 19 and 25 is associated with less pain and an easier time of getting around to perform activities of daily living. You can achieve a healthy weight with calorie restriction and exercise. Take part in meditation. Meditation induces the relaxation response that helps alleviate chronic pain, and may make it occur less often. Mediation also reduces stress, which is known to make pain worse. Meditation takes just a few minutes and can be easily learned. It can be done just about anywhere and by anyone for better health overall emotional, physical and mental health on top of its pain management benefits. Practice guided imagery. Imagine yourself in a beautiful and different place while focusing on your breath. You can imagine yourself in a lovely meadow, on a rustic beach or in the gentle forest. See, hear and smell what you would if you were actually there and your worries and pain will gradually recede. Guided imagery is a type of meditation that works better for some when compared to other forms of mediation. Various guided imagery is available on CD. Practice yoga. Yoga involves doing different kinds of poses while focusing on your breath. These poses, known as asanas help induce the relaxation response, strengthen the joints and muscles, improve flexibility, and calms nerves, all of which supports healthy and effective pain management. It can be done by just about anyone at any fitness level and can be modified for those people who suffer from chronic pain. Restorative yoga is especially useful for those who live with chronic pain. Practice Tai Chi. Tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that is used in Western health circles to improve balance and flexibility. It is a slow form of meditative movement that is low impact and ideal for those who suffer from various chronic pain conditions. You can learn it from a master or purchase a DVD that will show you how to do it. It can lessen your stress level and improve your experience of chronic pain. Tai chi can be done by those who are healthy enough to tolerate mild exercise and is best done in the morning. Practice Qi Gong. This is another form of meditative movement with roots in Chinese martial arts that has turned into a healthful activity for anyone at any fitness level. You can even practice this in bed if you feel you can’t get out of bed because of your pain and will help you feel better. Qi Gong DVDs that teach the process can be purchased online.
How To obtain relief (Part 2)?See a psychotherapist. Various kinds of psychotherapy can help you cope with chronic pain. Things like cognitive behavioral therapy can help you reframe your thoughts so you don’t see your pain in such a negative light and encourage positive thinking that changes your perception of your life as a result of pain, thereby improving your quality of life. Take a long bath. The warm water of a sudsy bath can ease aches and pains and can help you function better in your daily life. Use a loofa sponge to massage your body and take your time to really let the heat of the water go deep into your muscles and joints. Add a few drops of calming essential oils, such as lavender essential oil, which add to the relaxation and sense of peace. Read a good book. Take the time to rest and read about something light and refreshing. It can allow your mind to go to other places instead of focusing on your chronic pain. Choose books that you find interesting to take your mind off your discomfort. Books can be a best friend to those suffering from chronic pain syndromes. Decrease stress in your life. Anytime you are dealing with stress, this can increase your perception of chronic pain. Your best way of doing this is to remove things from your life that cause you stress to improve your pain tolerance and your overall health and immune system functioning. If you can’t actually get rid of the stressor, use some of the other stress-relieving techniques described, like meditation, Tai Chi, and relaxation. Reduce your alcohol intake. Alcohol can interfere with a normal sleep pattern so that you may suffer from insomnia or wake up too early in the morning. Good sleep is essential to dealing with chronic pain. Keep your alcohol intake down to about 1-2 alcoholic beverages per day and try not to drink right before bedtime. Set a regular sleep pattern. Go to sleep at the same time every night and awaken at the same time every morning. Keep your sleeping environment as soothing as possible so you sleep well. When you are sleeping, you can allow your body to regenerate itself so you have less pain when you wake up in the morning. If needed, use a white noise machine that can get rid of extraneous noises in your environment. Quit smoking. Smoking affects your circulation and can wreak havoc on those who have chronic pain. When your circulation is good, your joints and muscles can heal better and you can live better without chronic pain. If you are a heavy smoker, you may need to seek a doctor’s advice about ways to gradually cut down and eventually break the habit. Keep a pain log. Buy a diary and keep track of triggers and other things that precipitate pain. You can share your findings with your doctor so as to figure out a plan for handling those things that cause the pain to become worse. Reflect on your pain log to see if you can determine which things cause your pain to become worse and avoid those things in your life. Try hypnosis. Hypnosis can relax your mind and can help you reduce your perception of pain. See a reputable hypnotherapist who specializes in chronic pain. You can learn self-hypnosis from them and use what you learn in your everyday use. You can also learn self-hypnosis from CDs or DVD. Study biofeedback. Biofeedback can lessen stress and can decrease your perception of chronic pain. You can learn ways to relax your muscles and tendons so that you can be pain free without any medications. Biofeedback is usually taught by physicians or physical therapists who understand the process and have the necessary equipment. Practice distraction. Instead of focusing on your pain, engage in an activity you enjoy that can leave you concentrating on just about anything but the pain you are in. Develop a hobby that you enjoy and that doesn’t put too much stress on your level of pain. Coloring can be a soothing hobby that doesn’t result in any pain. You can buy adult coloring books on line or at certain craft stores.
How to obtain relief (Part 3)?Practice sensory splitting. This is a mental technique in which you focus away from your pain and toward some other part of your senses. If, for example, you feel a hot pain down your leg, concentrate on the sensation of heat rather than on the sensation of pain. Sensory splitting can be applied to both chronic pain and acute exacerbations of chronic pain. Learn dissociation. Dissociation is a way of separating your mind from your body so you don’t have access as much to the pain. This can be learned in such a way that you can keep yourself from experiencing the pain. Dissociation comes naturally to some people but can be taught by a psychotherapist who understands the process. Practice altered focus. This involves focusing your mind on a part of your body that is not hurting. Think of the warmth of your hand and let your mind focus on that rather than on the experience of pain in another part of your body. You can learn this technique yourself or from a pain specialist or psychotherapist. Use an ice pack. Ice to the affected areas of pain can reduce inflammation and can relieve pain. Use an ice pack for thirty minutes at a time for pain relief and then let the body part rest for thirty minutes before putting ice on again. Ice is especially good for pain relief in those situations where inflammation is behind the source of the pain. Use a heating pad. If any of your pain is from muscle spasm, the application of heat can relieve the spasm and can warm aching joints. Don’t put the heat on too high because it can burn your skin. Alternatively, you can put a towel or cloth between the heating pad and the skin overlying the area of pain. Heat can be applied for thirty minutes at a time before cooling the area to room temperature or using ice as a way of alternating with pain relief through heat. Practice silent counting. When the pain is severe, count your breaths from one to ten or backwards from ten. Let your muscles loosen as you count until your pain is back to tolerable levels. This is one of several mental techniques that will put you in charge of your pain instead of the other way around. Stay hydrated. Experts believe that if you are dehydrated, it can interfere with your perception of pain. Keep a water bottle close by and constantly sip some all day long. Drink until your urine is a light straw color. Water is the best hydration method to use. Do not use anything that contains caffeine as this ultimately causes dehydration and will not help you stay hydrated. Limit inflammatory foods. There are some foods that can enhance your perception of pain. These include nightshade vegetables (eggplant and tomatoes), junk food, citrus fruits, high fat meat, wheat, red wine, coffee, tea, and soda. Instead, stick to foods that have anti-inflammatory properties, like fish containing omega 3 fatty acids, whole grains (except wheat), dark leafy greens, nuts, soy products, and low fat dairy products. Eat more turmeric. This spice is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Use it in recipes so you can have less pain. Turmeric contains curcumin, which decreases the amount of inflammation in your body. Look up recipes that contain turmeric or make up some recipes of your own. It really is a very versatile spice. Maintain good posture. You can alleviate some of your pain by maintaining good posture. Good posture keeps your muscles and joints in proper alignment so that you feel less chronic pain. If you instead curve your back into a C-shape, it puts extra pressure on your spine and sets up a situation where you will feel spinal pain. Try physical therapy. Physical therapists can evaluate your pain and can help you through tailored exercise to help you control your pain and strengthen your body. Physical therapists can teach you ways to get ahold of your pain without taking medications. It usually involves exercises that loosen muscle tension and increase muscle strength around arthritic joints.
How To obtain relief (Part 4)?Use a TENS Unit. This stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. It involves overriding the pain signals with electrical signals applied to the affected area. You can wear it as much as you need to without having to take medications. TENS units are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased at a medical supply store or over the internet without a prescription. Get a nerve block. If a certain area is in pain, an anesthesiologist can give you a nerve block that can relieve the pain for several days or weeks. This can be just the relief from pain you need to live a healthier life—at least for a while. Sympathetic nerve blocks can be used for things like reflex sympathetic dystrophy in which a body part is in extreme pain despite having undergone a minor injury. Ask your doctor. Practice daily stretching. Stretching exercises can improve your circulation and can lessen the tension in your muscles. Try stretching each morning before you get out of bed in order to start your day off right. Stretch also before you do any type of exercise to avoid getting any kind of injury during the exercise. Use a cane or walker. This can relieve chronic pain, especially if you are suffering from some type of arthritis. They can lessen the load on your joints and can help you get around more safely. Practice with a physical therapist so you can safely use these devices around the house or as you go about your day. Try acupuncture. This is an ancient Asian technique in which special needles are used to relieve pain in various body areas. Acupuncture is a way of mobilizing qi energy through specific acupoints in the body so that pain in various parts of your body can be relieved. Seek the advice of a qualified acupuncturist who understands the concept of qi and the ways acupuncture can be used to deal with chronic pain. Try acupressure. This is a less invasive way at mobilizing qi and relieving chronic pain. There are specialists in acupressure who can push on various parts of your body to improve the flow of qi and lessen your perception of chronic pain. You can practice acupressure on yourself or have a specialist in acupressure use this type of technique on you. Try reflexology. This involves pushing on the soles of your feet and putting pressure on specific areas corresponding to parts of your body that are in pain. This can relieve pain without using anything that is invasive. There are reflexologists in the same places that do massage therapy or you can learn reflexology from a book or DVD. Listen to music. Music is the greatest soother of all aches and pains. Put on something that puts your mind onto some other topic besides pain. Put together a playlist that incorporates some of your favorites and sit back to listen to it when you have pain. Music is not just good for the soul. It also helps you become distracted from your pain. Go swimming. Swimming is the best exercise for people who have chronic pain it provides very little impact on the joints and yet strengthens the muscles. You can swim every day, so join a health club, but make sure to choose one with a warm pool that will be easier on your joints. Recognize your emotions. Chronic pain isn’t all about nerve fibers and brain signals. Your emotions play a big role in how you deal with chronic pain. When you can get a hold of your emotions, you can better understand how they play a role in your perception of pain. Recognize when things like anger or anxiety result in an increase in the perception of pain and do what you can to get a hold of these emotions.
What are Fibromyalgia symptoms?Chronic muscle pain, muscle spasms, or tightness Moderate or severe fatigue and decreased energy Insomnia or waking up feeling just as tired as when you went to sleep Stiffness upon waking or after staying in one position for too long Difficulty remembering, concentrating, and performing simple mental tasks (“fibro fog”) Abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and constipation alternating with diarrhea (irritable bowel syndrome) Tension or migraine headaches Jaw and facial tenderness Sensitivity to one or more of the following: odors, noise, bright lights, medications, certain foods, and coldFeeling anxious or depressed Numbness or tingling in the face, arms, hands, legs, or feet Increase in urinary urgency or frequency (irritable bladder) Reduced tolerance for exercise and muscle pain after exercise A feeling of swelling (without actual swelling) in the hands and feet Fibromyalgia symptoms may intensify depending on the time of day — morning, late afternoon, and evening tend to be the worst times. Symptoms may also get worse with fatigue, tension, inactivity, changes in the weather, cold or drafty conditions, overexertion, hormonal fluctuations (such as just before your period or during menopause), stress, depression, or other emotional factors. If the condition is not diagnosed and treated early, symptoms can go on indefinitely, or they may disappear for months and then recur.Call Your Doctor About Fibromyalgia If:You have chronic muscle pain and overwhelming fatigue. WebMD Medical Reference
What are Fibromyalgia symptoms in men?Fibromyalgia symptoms may appear differently in men than in women. People have always considered fibromyalgia symptoms to be milder in men than in women. In reality, they may be as widespread in both genders, and recent studies indicate that the severity of symptoms may be the same in all people. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315422#takeaway A 2017 report says that men may be less likely to consult a doctor than women. They may also feel stigmatized as “wimpy,” “whiney,” or “lazy,” when they complain of fibromyalgia symptoms, such as tiredness and muscle pains. The report’s author says that remaining undiagnosed may make disability claims from employers harder for men to access than women. Also, the impact of less available support may impact a family if a man rather than a woman is a primary income provider. Symptoms of fibromyalgia in men can range from mild to debilitating. They may vary from person-to-person and can include: pain and tenderness fatigue morning muscle stiffness irritable bowel symptoms brain fog headache depression When to see a doctor Fibromyalgia symptoms can be similar to the symptoms of other conditions. If the symptoms are not severe, it can be hard to know when to see a doctor. If a man thinks he may have the symptoms of fibromyalgia, he should seek medical advice, to rule out other conditions. If the symptoms worsen or change, it is also a good idea to tell the physician as they may wish to change the treatment.
How to Find a Doctor That Treats Fibro?
Get in touch with a fibromyalgia support group either locally or online and ask which doctors other members recommend or not. To find a support group visit the National Fibromyalgia Association website at fmaware.org
If you live outside the USA, look for Fibromyalgia or Chronic Pain Associations near you for more information.
Talk to people who suffer from other immune deficiency disorders such as those with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc., and ask which physicians they see.
Search for a specialist online by entering the name of your city plus “fibromyalgia specialist” or “fibromyalgia doctor” as the keywords in your browser.
Visit the National Fibromyalgia Association website at my.WebMD.com for listings of doctors.
Contact your insurance company to find out which physicians will accept your insurance plan.
Continue your search until you find a fibromyalgia specialist you are comfortable with and have confidence in. Remember, it’s up to you to find the right specialist for you.
To determine the legitimacy of a doctor you can do the following: Search ama-assn.org to check they are part of the Medical Association in your country.
Before your first appointment make a list of important questions you want to ask such as how many fibromyalgia patients he/she treats, what treatment options they use and what the success rates are for relieving symptoms.
Sources and Citations
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