Fibromyalgia is a frustrating illness that afflicts many people in this country. With this illness, you might find that your muscles are so weak that it is hard to carry out regular everyday activities.
Read on for more information regarding this disorder. For an informative video on YouTube, see the following.
What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that is typified by generalized musculoskeletal pain coupled with fatigue, sleep, cognitive, and emotional problems. Scientists think that the disorder causes the pain by altering the processing of the brain’s pain signals.
The trigger of symptoms can be something that has nothing to do with the disorder itself. Sometimes the onset of symptoms can occur with no trigger at all.
Women are more prone to get fibromyalgia than men.
There is no cure for the disorder. However, you may be able to manage the symptoms.
Fibromyalgia: A Phantom Illness
Fibromyalgia is known as being somewhat of a phantom illness because doctors cannot test for its presence. There are no objective signs, and the symptoms are only felt internally.
Since there are no external signs, many times the sufferers of fibromyalgia become depressed. Their loved ones may not take them seriously.
However, the disorder can interfere with a person’s functioning, and it will require support and patience from those who are close to the person who suffers from it.
What Are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
The symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
The pain of the illness is said to be a general ache that has persisted for at least three full months. This ache is present in the body from side to side and from top to bottom.
People with the disorder may sleep regularly yet still remain tired. Sometimes, people with the disorder will have broken sleep because of the pain involved. Many people have sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
Sufferers may have issues with focusing on mental tasks.
People who have fibromyalgia may also have:
- A Migraine or other headaches
- Interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome
- TMJ disorders
What Are the Causes of Fibromyalgia?
Mayo Clinic says that scientists don’t know what the causes of fibromyalgia are. However, some factors may include:
The disorder seems to run in families. There might be genetic mutations that will make you prone to acquiring the disorder.
These may trigger or aggravate the disorder.
Physical or Emotional Trauma
Sometimes the disorder can be triggered by a trauma such as a car accident. Psychological stress can be a factor as well.
What Is Responsible for Fibromyalgia?
Healthline gives a possible theory for what causes fibromyalgia. Experts don’t know precisely what the cause is, but a few factors may be involved.
People who have the disorder may not process pain signals in a typical manner. The pain might be amplified by abnormal levels of chemicals in the brain, spinal cord, and nerves.
Also, neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine may be present in lower levels than normal. These chemicals aid the body in processing pain. When the levels are below normal, it may interrupt pain signals and increase your sensitivity to them.
Is Muscle Weakness a Symptom Of Fibromyalgia
If you suffer from fibromyalgia, then you may find that you get some muscle twitching and weakness.
Muscle twitches result from little contractions inside of the muscles. These contractions are not voluntary. Also called muscle fasciculation, these twitches usually affect single muscles.
Muscle weakness occurs when your muscles do not possess the strength to do a certain task. There is a difference between weakness and common fatigue.
In the case of muscle weakness, you might expend a lot of exertion without getting your muscles to move. Muscle weakness can occur in a specific part of the body, or it may be generalized to the whole body.
Muscle twitches occur when the nerves in the body start to fire involuntarily. Muscle weakness occurs when the nerves that stimulate your muscles to move don’t function right. What happens is that your muscles will not contract and relax like they normally would.
Muscle twitching is characterized by the following symptoms:
- An electric feeling in the muscles
- Sudden, uncontrollable motions
- Sleep disorders, like restless leg syndrome
Muscle weakness is characterized by the following symptoms:
- Numbness in certain muscle groups
- Inability to support your arms or legs
- Inability to perform physical tasks using particular muscle groups
It is common for sufferers of fibromyalgia to experience muscle twitching and weakness. More than 50% of people who have fibromyalgia have at least one of the two symptoms.
Muscle twitching in fibromyalgia is associated with the tender points in the body. The tender points irritate nerves and cause the muscles to twitch.
Muscle twitching might also be associated with certain sleep disorders. They can result in this twitching.
Muscle weakness is also an issue for people with fibromyalgia. Some scientists attribute this to the physical inactivity that can result from the pain of fibromyalgia. However, there is research that indicates that the muscle weakness comes from a dietary issue.
This dietary issue may be a lack of vitamin D. When subjects were treated with vitamin D supplements, symptoms of muscle weakness sometimes even abated.
Treating Muscle Twitching and Weakness
Muscle twitching can be treated at home, through a regimen of stretches and exercises. Some people discover that using the affected muscle will aid in preventing the twitching.
There are also certain medications that can help with the twitching. Muscle weakness can be a lot harder to treat. You may want to ask your doctor about it or consult a physiotherapist.
What Are Treatments for Fibromyalgia?
While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, you can do things to manage the symptoms:
1. Pain Relievers
Over-the-counter drugs can aid in controlling the pain of fibromyalgia. Your doctor might recommend aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen. These medications can aid in:
- Reducing inflammation
- Minimizing muscular aches
- Improving the quality of sleep
Antidepressants can aid in diminishing pain and fatigue. However, there are some side effects that come along with their use. They may cause nausea, weight gain, and lack of sexual desire.
Anticonvulsants may also help diminish the pain. Pregabalin is an anti-seizure drug that has been approved for this purpose. Gabapentin can also be used. Like antidepressants, these drugs may come along with certain side effects.
Research indicates that people with fibromyalgia can benefit from yoga in terms of mood and reduction of pain and fatigue. It is suggested that you take a class to maximize your benefit.
Acupuncture is an Eastern holistic practice that can help by applying needles to the skin at certain points. You may find that acupuncture:
- Promotes natural healing
- Encourages a change in blood flow
- Changes the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain
- Treats chronic pain
A study found that people with the disorder who tried acupuncture had pain relief for at least two years. If you have any issue with the application of needles, then acupressure is also an option.
6. Physical Therapy
Physical therapy can help by improving your range of motion and strengthening your muscles. It can also aid in reducing pain. The therapist can design a program for your particular situation.
7. Vitamin D
People with fibromyalgia many times have a vitamin D deficiency. In one study, researchers discovered that people with the disorder felt physically better and had less fatigue after the administration of supplements.
You should consult with your doctor before taking supplements because they can cause toxicity in excess.
Exercise is a great way to stave off tiredness and increase your energy levels. Exercise can increase endorphins, improve sleep, and diminish depression.
Recommended exercises for sufferers of fibromyalgia include walking, biking, and swimming. You might find that it is hard to start exercise because of the presence of pain. You can help this by starting gradually and increasing slowly.
9. Medical Marijuana
Medical marijuana can aid in the symptoms of fibromyalgia. You might find that you have:
- A reduction of pain and stiffness
- Enhanced relaxation
- An increase in sleepiness
- Feelings of well-being
- Improved mental health
Biofeedback is a way of learning how to control your body functions. Biofeedback can aid in diminishing muscle tension and pain.
For a few more methods of controlling your symptoms, see Healthline.
Living with fibromyalgia can be difficult and trying. People around you may not understand an illness that they can’t observe objectively in any way.
As discussed above, you may find that your muscles are so weak that you literally cannot lift common objects.
However, if you consult your doctor you will find that there are ways of managing the symptoms in a way that makes your life more liveable and pleasant. For a great article on living with fibromyalgia, consult the following on Fibrocenter.