Fibromyalgia Is No Myth: Understanding The Disorder and Controversy
7 minute read
Because the exact cause is unknown and because people feel pain differently, there are skeptics out there who believe fibromyalgia is not a real condition.
While popular culture seems to think that fibromyalgia may be some sort of lie or conspiracy, the controversy among the medical community is less severe and stems more from how to classify it rather than whether or not it exists.
For the millions who suffer, however, it is not imagined, and the truth to understanding the condition lies in your brain.
Fibromyalgia: Fact or Fiction
Living with fibromyalgia is a pain, literally. The condition, disorder, or disease (depending on which medical area of expertise you ask) can affect anyone but is more common among adults and twice as likely to affect women.
The trouble is that you may feel fatigued and in pain every day, but those around you do not understand. Without a diagnosis of some disease, many think fibromyalgia is a figment of the imagination, a “diagnosis” made even more problematic when taking into account the historical views of doctors towards “hysterical” women.
Fibromyalgia has been around for centuries, even though it is commonly thought to be a new condition. Symptoms are the only way to identify the condition, and there is skepticism as to just how subjective these can be.
Once classified as a mental disorder, fibromyalgia has gained more recognition in recent decades. The condition was originally called fibrositis as it was believed to have been caused by inflammation throughout the body.
While inflammation is thought to play a role in the pain you feel, it is now believed that there is more to this condition than originally perceived.
While fibromyalgia is often lumped in with arthritis pain, it is not a form of arthritis at all. Unlike arthritis, which causes inflammation, fibromyalgia does not.
In addition to this, arthritis is typically associated with your joints, whereas fibromyalgia concerns pain in joints, muscles, and even bones. With fibromyalgia, pain is felt all over and often appears at the slightest touch.
Common symptoms that accompany the widespread pain include:
♦ Strong pain in specific “tender points”
♦ Brain fog and inability to focus
♦ Sleep problems
♦ Abdominal cramping
The problem with these symptoms is that many can be linked to other conditions. It is important for you to keep track of symptoms and follow up with your doctors until you get an accurate diagnosis. One way that fibromyalgia can be diagnosed is by eliminating other possibilities.
Once this happens, there is plenty that can be done to relieve pain and promote higher quality of life through the efficient targeting of symptoms.
Natural Fibromyalgia Relief
While there are medications and therapies to effectively relieve pain and other discomforts, such as abdominal cramping and headaches, the lifestyle changes you can make prove to be more effective in the long term.
Many people with fibromyalgia complain of fatigue and daytime pains. Fibromyalgia has been linked to sleep disorders. The best solution for this is to make sure you get a full 7 to 9 hours of restful sleep.
To ensure you get a good night’s rest, practice good sleep hygiene, such as:
♦ Do not eat two hours before bed
♦ Reduce caffeine intake during the afternoon and evening
♦ Turn off electronic devices to avoid the sleep-disruptive “blue” light
Once you establish a bedtime routine, falling asleep will be easy and the fatigue you typically feel in the morning will disappear.
Sometimes the pain you feel with fibromyalgia can prevent you from exercising, but this will only make matters worse.
Staying active and getting regular exercise has been proven to be an effective treatment option for the condition. You want to avoid strenuous workouts and opt for light aerobics, walking, and swimming instead.
Tai chi is also a recommended exercise for those with fibromyalgia. The slow and gentle movements improve circulation and relaxation while promoting strength and valuable stretching.
Tai chi has been linked to a reduction in depression, fatigue, and improves sleep quality. With regular exercise as part of your daily routine, you can start to increase the intensity as you notice your overall pain and fatigue diminishing.
With the chaos and daily pressures of life, reducing stress can be easier said than done. Both stress and anxiety have been found to worsen the condition and exacerbate symptoms.
Look to employ relaxation techniques into your daily routine such as deep breathing and meditation. Yoga is the perfect blend of exercise and relaxation which makes it an ideal therapy for those with fibromyalgia.
It is also important to understand your limits and to listen to your body. When you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, do not ignore it—find the time to relax and unwind before symptoms get worse.
While you make the recommended lifestyle changes, you can also try supplements to help ease pain and promote well-being. 5-HTP is a natural amino acid produced in your body which produces serotonin.
This chemical helps to reduce anxiety and fatigue and can counteract several of the negative symptoms of fibromyalgia. SAM-e is another natural compound that can be taken as supplements to control fibromyalgia symptoms. In particular, this supplement has been shown to relieve pain and stiffness in the morning, allowing you to get a better start to each day.
The Bottom Line
Sadly, many doctors still lack knowledge about fibromyalgia and may be quick to dismiss the symptoms. It is important to understand that a proper diagnosis of fibromyalgia can take time, sometimes, unfortunately, years.
Fibromyalgia pain can negatively impact both physical and emotional wellbeing, which makes it important to identify early on. As awareness increases for this condition, so too will be our ability to identify and fight it early.