What To Know About Fibromyalgia

According to the CDC, Fibromyalgia affects approximately 4 million Americans, or around 2% of the entire adult population in the country. It is a chronic illness that affects your friends, your neighbors, your family, and possibly even yourself. Although it is a condition that has some visibility, the full scope of what it is actually like to live with Fibromyalgia on a daily basis is not necessarily communicated through the media. Information and knowledge is important to understanding chronic conditions; here’s what you need to know about Fibromyalgia. 

What is Fibromyalgia? 

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that is characterized by one overarching symptom: frequent pain and stiffness all over the body. However, this pain causes other related symptoms, which include: 

  • Difficulty sleeping, leading to fatigue
  • Issues with memory retention and concentration 
  • Headaches and migraines 
  • Numbness in hands and feet 
  • Depression and anxiety 

Fibromyalgia can also lead to further complications, including jaw disorders causing pain in the face and jaw (known as Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) 

Causes of Fibromyalgia 

There is not a definitive cause for Fibromyalgia, which makes it a sometimes difficult condition to diagnose; in fact, symptoms mimic those of other conditions, which causes fibromyalgia to be often misdiagnosed as a different condition–although this has improved as Fibromyalgia awareness has grown in recent years. For a period, some health care providers even questioned the existence of the condition at all, a sentiment that has thankfully largely disappeared as researchers and health care providers have learned more about the condition. 

Although there is no definitive cause, according to The Mayo Clinic there are a few factors that can be connected to the development of Fibromyalgia. These factors include: 

  • Family History- There appears to be a genetic component to Fibromyalgia, as the condition runs in families. If one of your family members has Fibromyalgia, you may be at higher risk of developing it.
  • Trauma- Traumatic experiences, both physical and emotional, may trigger the condition, especially if multiple traumatic experiences have occurred.
  • Other Illnesses- Some other infectious diseases may either trigger or elevate the symptoms of Fibromyalgia.

Who is at Risk? 

Fibromyalgia can affect anyone of any age, although there are particular groups who are more at risk to develop the condition: 

  • Middle Aged People- People who are in middle age or older are at an increased risk to develop Fibromyalgia.
  • People With Lupus and/or Rheumatoid Arthritis- Both Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis are conditions that can lead to the development of Fibromyalgia.
  • Sex- Fibromyalgia largely impacts women, with 90% of all reported cases attributed to women, according to the American Chronic Pain Association.
  • Repeated Joint Injuries- People who have experienced injuries of the joints multiple times have a higher risk of developing Fibromyalgia.
  • Obesity- Individuals who are obsese are at higher risk of developing the condition. 

Treating Fibromyalgia 

Treatment can be multidimensional, and should always be strategized between a doctor and patient. Some common treatments that doctors deploy, are: 

  • Exercise regimens 
  • Stress management techniques 
  • Establishing good sleeping habits
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and other mental health treatment for anxiety and depression. 

If you believe that you or a loved one may be experiencing Fibromyalgia, it’s important to contact a doctor immediately to receive a professional diagnosis, and begin working on a care strategy.