My Fibromyalgia Journey




I was "diagnosed" with fibromyalgia in March of 2011. I say diagnosed in quotes since the process of diagnosing someone with fibromyalgia is generally excluding other conditions with similar symptoms. I had been seeing doctors about my symptoms (which started with headaches in high school) for a handful of years before tests and symptoms were narrowed and determined it to be fibromyalgia. 

I blogged about it a lot when my days were darker and I was trying lots of things to help and ended up on lots of pain medications. Some of my most frequent symptoms were fairly constant headaches, radiating pain (almost always in my neck and shoulder it would spread to other areas like me knee, ankle, wrists, etc.), chronic fatigue, and pretty intense teeth grinding which causes soreness in my jaw and up to my temples. Praise the Lord, I have come a long way and finding wellness naturally ended up helping me the most. Dietary changes (buy buy gluten! Many say gluten is an inflammatory), lifestyle changes - like not overdoing it and pacing the activities I participate in. Getting plenty of rest and hydration. 

Here is a {reverse} chronological list of the posts I've written about fibromyalgia- mostly before I found solutions that helped me. Connect with me if you want to hear more - there is only so much I can write out here about what has helped! 

2014


2013

2012
2011

What is Fibromyalgia?

Here's one of the best definitions I've see of fibromyalgia (I received it on a handout from a fibro support group citing Fibromyalgia Network, WebMD, and Mayo Clinic)Fibromyalgia (FM) produces widespread pain and exhaustion from head to toe. FM means pain in fibrous tissues of the body. Although the muscles and joints hurt everywhere, researchers have found that symptoms are related to malfunctions in the nervous system. 

Regional muscle pain not related to arthritis or nervous system also occurs in the majority of people with FM. Patients describe this as firm knots in the belly of muscles, causing restricted movement and radiating pain. 

Most patients with FM say their muscles feel like they have been pulled or overworked. Even the skin may feel badly sunburned. To help your family and friends relate to your condition, have them think back to the last time they had a bad flu. Every muscle in their body shouted out in pain. In addition, they felt devoid of energy as though someone had unplugged their power supply.

How is it diagnosed?

Doctors will often run a multitude of tests to seek the cause of your symptoms and often find nothing. While there is no lab test to confirm a diagnosis of FM, your doctor may want to rule out other conditions that may have similar symptoms. 

Upon physical examination, patients will be sensitive to pressure in certain areas of the body, called tender points. Diagnostic criteria for research purposes requires patients to have widespread pain for a minimum of three months and at least 11 of the specified tender points. 

What causes fibromyalgia?
  Recent studies show FM is a complex illness involving a malfunction in the pain processing and sleep regulatory systems, and it's strongly tied to genetics. The genetic link is so strong that if one family member has FM, other blood relatives have an 8.5 fold increased chance of developing the condition.

People often experience a triggering event that awakens their FM, but these events probably do not cause the illness. Triggers may include infections, automobile accidents, injuries, surgery, or the development of another disorder, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or hypothyroidism. 

Scientists are currently studying an imbalance in pain-related chemical transmitters that nerves use to communicate with each other. It appears that FM patients have too many pain-promoting and not enough pain-relieving transmitters. 

How is FM treated?
  There are many different approaches to treating FM. Relieving pain and improving sleep are often used first, followed by addressing other symptoms. Usually patients will require a combination of medications, regional pain therapies (e.g. massage therapy, physical therapy), non-drug approaches (e.g. chiropractic care, a gentle exercise program, acupuncture, pain/stress management), and lifestyle changes (e.g. manage your activities and not over doing it, strive for 8 hours each night, keep inner voice upbeat). 

1 comment:

Tom said...

It is well said that spreading awareness is the best way of keeping ourselves protected from chronic pain and diseases, so I have subscribed to a Fibromyalgia awareness blog recently. It helps passing on the information about the disease, and how to get cured easily.

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