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Fibromyalgia Facts

 

Fibromyalgia is NOT: 

  • Fibromyalgia can cause symptoms that resemble arthritis or neurological disorders, but it is different from these disorders.
  • Unlike arthritis, it does not cause the joints to swell or become deformed, even though it may cause pain in the tissues or a feeling of swelling around a joint.
  • It does not cause paralysis or progressive neurological  problems
  • It is not crippling
  • It is not a ruptured disc
  • It is not a pinched nerve, even though the symptoms may resemble those caused by a pinched nerve
  • It is not a tumour
  • It is not life threatening—despite what the pain may be telling you
  • It is not all in your head
  • It is not a mental health problem
  • It is not a “new” disease or some recent “medical” fad

It does not turn into one of the above mentioned conditions

However:

People with fibromyalgia may look okay on the outside, but are definitely hurting on the inside. 

What are the Characteristics of Fibromyalgia?

  • Seen in about 2% of the population, affects men, women, and children of all ages, races and economic levels, according to Government statistics 14,000 people are diagnosed annually.
  • Onset of symptoms can be at any age, but mainly from 20-60 years of age.
  • Mild to incapacitating,  no two people are the same
  • Variable chronic symptoms
  • Pain changes location
  • Affects women more than men in the ratio: 9 to 1

How common is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a common illness. In fact, it is as common as rheumatoid arthritis and can be more painful.  People with mild to moderate cases of fibromyalgia are usually able to live a near normal life, given the appropriate treatment.

If a person’s symptoms are more severe they may find that they

  • have to greatly modify their typical day,
  • or find themselves not being able to hold on to a job
  • or enjoy much of a social life

What Causes Fibromyalgia?

Some possible triggers of FM are:

  • some sort of trauma such as a fall or car accident
  • a viral infection
  • hormonal problems
  • an operation
  • muscle physiology problems—decreased oxygen supply to muscles may account for some of the pain mechanism
  • or it begins without any obvious trigger

It is a complicated condition:

  • which often has more than one factor involved
  • may even stem from a genetic predisposition
  • triggers may be recognised, but the exact mechanism of how fibromyalgia develops from any trigger is not fully known
  • it is an “end point” condition with multiple paths leading to it

Latest research has identified:

  • a deficiency in Serotonin in the central nervous system and
  • a resulting imbalance of Substance P (a transmitter substance that sends pain messages to the brain)

The effect of this is:

  • disordered Sensory Processing (the brain registers pain, which is amplified, when others might experience a slight ache or stiffness)
  • Research now strongly indicates that a central nervous system dysfunction is primarily responsible for the increased pain sensitivity of FM

With these advances come the hope that a cause may be found and hence a cure, or at least more effective treatment.

 

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