Signs and Early Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Are you working with a doctor to find the root cause of your chronic health conditions? Widespread pain and fatigue can be debilitating – affecting every aspect of your life. You’re desperate to find relief, but sometimes it takes time to find the right answers.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic health condition that could be contributing to your symptoms. Here are a few things you need to know to help you see if your symptoms line up with typical signs of fibromyalgia:

What Is Fibromyalgia?

This chronic condition causes a person to experience widespread pain throughout the body. Doctors have found that the pain probably occurs because of the way the nervous system manages pain signals.

Initially, doctors might not consider fibromyalgia in the diagnosis process. Researchers believe that patients with fibromyalgia experience amplified musculoskeletal pain because of the way the spinal cord and brain are working together to process signals – both painful and non painful signals.

Common Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

It can be challenging to diagnose fibromyalgia since the symptoms match up with other chronic health conditions. Here are some of the most common symptoms that patients experience:

  • Pain Throughout the Body: The most notable symptom of fibromyalgia is widespread pain. Patients often describe it as a dull pain – a constant ache that lasts for months or years. Pain affects both sides of the body, as well as above and below the waist.
  • Fibro Fog: This term refers to the cognitive difficulties a person experiences with fibromyalgia. The head fog makes it hard to pay attention, concentrate, and focus.
  • Fatigue: Even when a patient with fibromyalgia wakes up in the morning, they already feel tired before the day starts. Fibromyalgia patients often sleep for many hours, but this sleep is disrupted by pain.

The earliest symptoms tend to be mild. For example, you might feel fatigued and wonder why you need a nap every day. Or, there could be slight signs of nerve issues, such as tingling or numbness in the hands and feet.

Keep in mind that fibromyalgia symptoms vary quite a bit from patient to patient. So, your symptoms might be quite different from the experience other fibromyalgia patients have.

Related Health Conditions

Not only are patients suffering from fibromyalgia symptoms, but there are often other co-existing health conditions that contribute to the pain and discomfort.

For example, it’s common for patients with fibromyalgia to also experience:

  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
  • Chronic headaches
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Sleep apnea
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

Patients who have other health conditions might have a higher risk of developing fibromyalgia. For example, a previous diagnosis of lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or osteoarthritis is often associated with fibromyalgia.

Particular mental health concerns, such as depression and anxiety, can come because of the change in lifestyle that occurs when someone is living with chronic pain. On the other hand, it’s also possible that depression and anxiety increase the risk of fibromyalgia because of the higher stress levels the person is experiencing.

Risk Factors and Causes of Fibromyalgia

Some people experience a gradual increase in symptoms over time until eventually, the symptoms are intense and disruptive in life.

Other times, a patient goes through a triggering event with a sudden onset of fibromyalgia symptoms. Triggering events include surgery, infection, physical trauma, or high levels of psychological stress.

It’s interesting to note that women have a higher risk of developing fibromyalgia compared to men.

Genetics also play a role in the risk of developing fibromyalgia. Often, fibromyalgia runs in families because there are genetic markers that increase the likelihood of developing this chronic health condition.

Researchers believe that fibromyalgia can develop when there are repeated nerve stimulation events, eventually causing the spinal cord and brain to change. So, when a person has one or more physical or emotional events (such as prolonged psychological stress), it might trigger fibromyalgia development.

Fibromyalgia is a Misunderstood Health Condition

Living with undiagnosed fibromyalgia can be a lonely experience because other people don’t understand the pain and symptoms you are experiencing. Often, it results in frustration because of the way these health issues impact relationships with friends and family.

As the symptoms of fibromyalgia progress, it can interfere with the way you function at work and at home. In addition to the chronic pain limiting your daily activities, poor sleep and fibro fog can make it hard to get through the day.

Working with a doctor to identify a diagnosis can help you find the pathway forward. Once you know why the symptoms are occurring, you can start to design a lifestyle that supports you in better interactions with your loved ones.

Fibromyalgia Treatment Options

At this point, there is no cure for fibromyalgia. However, doctors can help you with symptom management, making it possible to live your best life while managing this chronic health condition. The goal is to manage symptoms and minimize the overall impact on your daily activities.

Some of the most effective treatments to reduce or eliminate fibromyalgia symptoms include:

  • Medication: Pain relievers can help to manage symptoms, such as over-the-counter products like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen sodium. Certain anti-seizure drugs and antidepressants can also help to reduce pain and symptoms. Additionally, doctors sometimes prescribe sleep medications and/or muscle relaxants.
  • Therapy: Physical and occupational therapy services can be helpful. These exercises improve flexibility, strength, and stamina. Patients who struggle to complete these activities find it beneficial to use water-based therapies to reduce the impact, such as water aerobics or swimming
  • Exercise: When you are tired and in pain, lacing up your walking shoes is the last thing you want to do. But even slight movements can make a difference to improve your overall health and alleviate symptoms. Start with short exercise sessions and light activities, then increase the intensity and frequency according to your abilities.
  • Counseling: It’s challenging to live with a chronic health condition, which is why counseling is often a recommended part of a treatment program. A therapist can help you learn strategies for dealing with stress.
  • Sleep: Good quality sleep is essential, especially when dealing with fatigue. Make sure you are going to bed and getting up at the same time. Always allow enough time for sleep.
  • Stress Reduction: Emotional and physical stress not only contribute to fibromyalgia, but these lifestyle factors can also increase the pain of your current diagnosis. Try meditation, deep breathing, and yoga.
  • Healthy Habits: Follow a healthy diet. Also, limit caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco use since all of these products increase inflammation in the body.

The key is to find the right balance of treatments and lifestyle changes to support your unique needs. Even though your inclination might be to slow down, stop working, and minimize movement, the small, incremental steps you take each day are critical for your recovery and pain management. Patients living an inactive lifestyle tend to do worse than people who stay active.

Personalized Diagnosis and Treatment Plan

Work with a doctor so you can get an official diagnosis and design a customized treatment plan. Our team at Colorado Primary Health Care is just a phone call away, offering full-service medical care for you and the entire family. Fill out the online form for an appointment request, or call our office at (303) 703-8583.

 

 

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