Posts Tagged Chronic Illness

Fibromyalgia & Pyrexia

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If you have fibromyalgia, you’ve probably noticed that you suffer from a bunch of symptoms that you almost never see discussed in connection with the condition. Those might include things like chronic itching, frequent urination, and maybe even frequent low-grade fevers. Fever, or pyrexia, is actually a common symptom among people with fibromyalgia, but how often do you hear about it?

And it can drive you crazy to have frequent fevers that seem to develop for no real reason, right? That’s especially true when you have no idea that fibromyalgia might be the explanation.

So, just what exactly is going on? And what can you do about it?

Pyrexia And Fibromyalgia

The most obvious question is, “Does fibromyalgia cause fevers?” Is there something about the condition itself that causes the body’s temperature to rise?

Unfortunately, there just isn’t a good answer to that question. We still don’t know much about fibromyalgia. We don’t even know for sure what causes it or how it works. If we understood the basic mechanisms behind the condition, we might have a better idea of why people with fibromyalgia often suffer from low-grade fevers.

Luckily, we do know enough about the condition that we can make a few educated guesses at what might be behind the symptom.

First, people with fibromyalgia often have weaker immune systems. This means that people suffering from fevers might actually just be getting sick more often. But if you’ve experienced this symptom, you know that this probably doesn’t cover every case.

Often, people with fibromyalgia develop fevers without any other sign that they’re suffering from a cold or similar infection that could explain it.

But, the answer may still lie in the immune system.

The immune system protects the body by releasing cells that attack foreign bacteria and viruses. But sometimes, the immune system begins to attack the body itself. This is called an autoimmune disease. And autoimmune disease can produce symptoms like fatigue, muscle pains, and frequent fevers.

Sort of sounds like fibromyalgia, doesn’t it?

In fact, fibromyalgia shares many symptoms with autoimmune diseases. Historically, this has led many doctors to suggest that fibromyalgia itself might be an autoimmune disease. But for a number of reasons, we’ve ruled this out in recent years. Of course, that doesn’t mean that there might not be some connection. And the link between fibromyalgia and autoimmune disease, whatever it is, might explain why people with fibromyalgia also experience frequent fevers.

There’s also another possible explanation that involves the immune system. Some researchers have suggested that the root of fibromyalgia might be immune cells in the brain called microglia.

The microglia produce flu-like symptoms in the body so that they can force you to rest while they fight off infections. Microglia seem to be activated by higher levels of a protein called leptin, which is found in higher concentrations in the bodies of people with fibromyalgia.

Leptin levels can vary from day to day, and the severity of fibromyalgia symptoms seems to be linked to how much leptin is in the blood.

It might be that on the days that leptin levels spike, the immune cells in the brain begin triggering symptoms like fevers. This could explain why people with fibromyalgia frequently get fevers.

Until we know more about the condition, we won’t know for sure if this is the explanation. But these are some plausible scenarios.

Luckily, there are some things you can do to help manage pyrexia.

Preventing And Managing Pyrexia

We don’t know exactly why fibromyalgia is linked to fevers, so it’s difficult to say for sure what you can do to prevent them. But many people with the condition have noted that their fevers seem to come after intense exercise or spending time outside in the sun. So basically, anything that raises your body temperature might trigger the fevers.

So, managing your body temperature might help prevent them. Make sure to wear cool clothing if you’re outside, and drink plenty of water. Take frequent breaks when exercising or spending time outdoors to help prevent overheating. And ice packs or a wet cloth on the neck can help cool you down as well.

Managing stress is also a good idea, as stress seems to make all the symptoms of fibromyalgia worse, including fevers. You can find a great guide on ways to effectively manage stress when you have fibro here.

If you’re already suffering from a fever, there’s a few things you can do. Make sure to rest and stay hydrated. This will help your body recover faster.

If possible, take fever-reducing medications like aspirin or ibuprofen. Finally, try to keep your core temperature down with cool baths or cold compresses.

While annoying, low fevers aren’t usually something you need to worry too much about. They usually resolve themselves in a few hours or days. But if your fever goes above 103 degrees (or 39.4C), or you have other symptoms like vomiting, you should see a doctor. It could be a sign of something more serious.

 

The preceding article is from FibromyalgiaTreating.com and is posted here for sharing purposes only. No copyright infringement intended.

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Arthritis vs. Arthralgia

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If you’re like a lot of people who suffer from fibromyalgia, you may have noticed aching in your joints from time to time. And if you’ve spent time researching the problem, you’ve probably noticed that the words arthritis and arthralgia both seem to come up when it comes to joint pain.

Understanding the difference between these two terms can be confusing, but it also might be important when it comes to getting an idea of what’s causing your symptoms.

So, what exactly is the difference? And why does it matter when you have fibromyalgia?

Arthralgia Vs. Arthritis

Let’s start with the condition that people tend to be more familiar with: arthritis. Arthritis is really a broad term that describes damage to the joints. The most common symptoms are things like:

  • Joint pain.
  • Swelling in the joints.
  • Stiffness (particularly in the morning).

There’s actually no single disease called “arthritis.” Instead, there are over 100 different conditions that can lead to the symptoms of arthritis. If that sounds confusing, don’t worry. We can actually break it down into four broader categories to help.

First, there’s degenerative arthritis. This occurs when the cartilage, a thin disc of tissue that cushions the bones from each other, wears away. As a result, the bones begin to grind against each other. This makes the joints inflamed and leads to pain. The most typical example of degenerative arthritis is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a common condition among older people, as a lifetime of wear on the joints starts to affect the cartilage. But being overweight or previous injuries can also contribute to the condition.

Second, there’s inflammatory arthritis, a condition where the body’s immune system begins to attack the lining of the joints. Your body naturally produces antibodies that attack and destroy foreign cells like bacteria. But sometimes, these antibodies begin destroying your own cells instead. Rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis are both forms of inflammatory arthritis. And while we don’t fully understand what causes these conditions, genetics seem to play a very important role.

Then, there’s infectious arthritis. As you might expect, infectious arthritis is the result of infection. Bacteria, fungus, and viruses can all infiltrate the body and infect the joints, causing them to swell and leading to arthritis.

The final form is metabolic arthritis. Gout is the most well-known example and is caused by the body failing to break down uric acid. The acid then forms crystals in the joints, leading to sharp spikes of pain.

As you can see, arthritis is a complicated condition. Arthralgia, on the surface at least, is more straightforward. Arthralgia is a term that means “joint pain,” and is used to describe the symptom of having pain in your joints.

Arthralgia is a common complaint because there are many different conditions that can cause it. Arthritis, obviously, is one of them. But anything from an injury to infection to disease can cause joint pain.

The distinction between the two conditions might not seem important. But when you have fibromyalgia, understanding when joint pain is caused by arthritis and when it’s caused by another condition can make a big difference in how you get treatment.

Why Is The Difference Important?

People with fibromyalgia are at a higher risk than the general population of developing a number of different forms of arthritis. But people with fibromyalgia also seem to develop joint pain even when they don’t have arthritis.

Essentially, these people are experiencing arthralgia, but not arthritis.

But because arthritis is one of the most obvious causes of joint pain, and because people with fibromyalgia often develop arthritis, it’s usually the first thing that doctors look for. However, arthritis is often hard to diagnose, and sometimes leaves no visible signs of inflammation.

So it’s possible that someone with fibromyalgia could be misdiagnosed with arthritis. And it can be months or even years before doctors realize that they don’t actually have the condition.

That’s why it’s important to know the signs that joint pain is actually being caused by arthritis.

The most obvious sign of arthritis is swelling in the joints. The skin surrounding the joints is often red and inflamed as well. In addition, stiffness that peaks in the morning is a good sign of arthritis. And if you’re suffering from these symptoms, the odds are better that you have the condition than the kind of general joint pain that comes with fibromyalgia.

Ultimately, only a doctor can really diagnosis what’s causing your joint problems. But by being aware of the different symptoms, you can help increase your odds of getting an accurate diagnosis.

 

The preceding article is from FibromyalgiaTreating.com and posted here for sharing purposes only. No copyright infringement intended.

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Fibromyalgia and Things to Avoid

*I don’t agree with all of these, but many may find some benefit in these tips.

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1- Avoid doing unplanned items

Planning your work is very important. It may not be very easy to do many things at a time.

Some people especially women who are highly responsible take care of many things in their family. While doing so they forget about their body condition and stress so much.

This can lead to complications in the body and they end up giving no rest to their body.

When you have fibromyalgia condition, consider doing things by having a list in your hand. Avoid doing things that are on the list.

2- Avoid wrong people

Mingling with wrong people can be dangerous. Some people will not understand the pain that you undergo. They either de-motivate you or speak to you in such a way that you are incapable of doing something.

You have to be strong by yourself and avoid the company of wrong people who don’t give any value to you.

3- Stop explaining yourself

You may find it difficult to do something. But it is not necessary that you should be providing an explanation to everyone. Just say that you can’t do it and walk away.

If you start to explain things to them, not everyone will understand you. It is better to avoid such situations and move on.

4- Forget your past

Some people live more with their past. It is fact that you would have been a capable person in the past.

But the fact is that you have to accept the incapability on certain things and have a positive attitude towards the things that you are still capable.

Worrying about the past will not strengthen you in any aspect. Just wipe it off and walk you can do for the future.

5- Don’t be jealous of others

When you look at people who are doing so many things in their life, it is quite obvious that you will be jealous thinking about your incapability.

You have to have something in mind that you are always special. There will definitely be something that you can do which they can’t do.

After all, everyone has limitations on what they do. In some way or the other, they may not be able to do something but you will be able to do. Think about it and move on.

6- Stop worrying about perfection

You would have been a perfect person in the past. But due to your inability, your perfection level would have gone low. But there is nothing to worry about it.

You can still bring perfection to the things that you are currently capable of doing.

Ignore the fact that people around you are in perfect and think that you should be perfect on the things that you are capable of doing.

7- Avoid alcohol consumption

High alcohol consumption is something that people with fibromyalgia usually do.

There are several reasons for it. Alcohol provides them a state where they will be able to forget things and move on easily.

Also, the other fact is that people, when they find difficult to sleep with fibromyalgia pain consume alcohol to get good sleep. But this is something that should be avoided.

When alcohol goes away from the bloodstream, it leads to a wide-awake state where you find it very difficult to sleep.

In some cases, during such situations, people also experience more pain in their body compared to the normal state.

8- Keep exercises in limits

People are very much focused on getting a relief from their fibromyalgia symptoms. In order to do that, they take various steps out of curiosity. One such step is to do exercises.

Considering the fact that exercises are very good to keep the body fit, it is also important to know that it should be kept under limits. Too much of exercise beyond your capability can create further complications leading to other problems in your body.

9- Stop comparing yourself to others

Fibromyalgia is something more to do with a mind for some people compared to their body. When people get fibromyalgia they naturally develop anxiety and stress in their mind.

The depression is also increased leading them to get confused about little things. Some people start to compare themselves with others thinking that others are capable of doing something but they are finding it difficult to even move from their place due to severe pain in their body.

For every person, there will be bad times but you have to be strong and self-motivated to overcome bad times.

10- If something is not okay express it

People have a bad habit of not expressing what they actually think in their mind. It is okay to express if something is not right.

If you have someone by your side, it is good to express the suffering that you undergo. They may not be able to cure it for you but they will be able to support you or help you with the burden.

It is also said that when the pain is expressed to someone the pain level psychologically reduces.

Your lifestyle may be different to that of others with the symptoms of fibromyalgia but when you do things in the right way with the good amount of self-confidence, you will be able to lead a happy and peaceful life.

Some small changes to your life can be very helpful in suppressing all your problems and provide you a good quality of your life.

 

 

The preceding article is from Fibromyalgia.net and is posted here for sharing purposes only. No copyright infringement intended.

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Fibromyalgia & Lupus

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Social media drives me nuts. But I also find it amusing. And sometimes I’m even grateful for it because of the connections it allows me to maintain. Like the dear friend with whom I’d fallen out of touch, only to recently discover was diagnosed with lupus disease two years ago. Apparently, lupus disease is also similar to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia, just two of the conditions with overlapping symptoms that can muddy the waters when it comes to a diagnosis. With that in mind, it took a while for my friend to get her lupus diagnosis. In all my research and experiences with both CFS and fibromyalgia, one thing I have learned is that these and similar conditions are often very difficult to diagnose. In fact, many patients have multiple conditions at the same time. And, of course, lupus frequently shows up in the research of these conditions. But just what is lupus and how is it treated?

What’s in a Name?

It’s hard for me to hear the name “lupus” without linking it to the fictional “Professor Remus Lupin” from the Harry Potter series. In the story, Professor Lupin was a werewolf. So, it should not come as a surprise that the word lupus is Latin for “wolf.” The name is no mere coincidence, although it lupus as a disease has nothing to do with any disease or contagion from a canine. It is actually called “lupus” because of a 13th century physician “who used it to describe erosive facial lesions that were reminiscent of a wolf’s bite.” However, the reality is that lupus can damage any part of the body, including the skin, joints, and/or organs.

Sadly, lupus is an autoimmune disease. The Lupus Foundation of America explains that with lupus, the immune system cannot tell the difference between “foreign invaders” like the flu, germs, and bacteria from healthy tissues. In other words, the body begins to attack and destroy itself the way it would foreign invaders. Even though the physician didn’t intend it, associating this condition with a wolf that instinctively attacks and destroys was certainly appropriate.

Lupus Disease Symptoms

Fibromyalgia is sometimes referred to as an autoimmune disease as well. However, there is much debate over that. Nevertheless, it is easy to see why fibromyalgia and lupus disease, not to mention chronic fatigue syndrome, can be mistaken for each other and often overlap. Fibro patients will definitely recognize a lot of these common lupus symptoms:

  • Extreme fatigue (tiredness)
  • Headaches
  • Painful or swollen joints
  • Fever
  • Anemia (low numbers of red blood cells or hemoglobin, or low total blood volume)
  • Swelling (edema) in feet, legs, hands, and/or around eyes
  • Pain in chest on deep breathing (pleurisy)
  • Butterfly-shaped rash across cheeks and nose
  • Sun- or light-sensitivity (photosensitivity)
  • Hair loss
  • Abnormal blood clotting
  • Fingers turning white and/or blue when cold (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
  • Mouth or nose ulcers

The similarities between lupus and other conditions are frightening and frustrating. Indeed, so much so, that the Lupus Foundation adds: “Many of these symptoms occur in other illnesses. In fact, lupus is sometimes called “the great imitator” because its symptoms are often like the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, blood disorders, fibromyalgia, diabetes, thyroid problems, Lyme disease, and a number of heart, lung, muscle, and bone diseases.” No wonder it took so long for my friend to get a diagnosis. Not to mention a doctor who would take her symptoms seriously.

Treatments for Lupus

Like most of the conditions and diseases above, lupus has no cure. That means that healthcare practitioners will often focus on managing the symptoms to improve your quality of life. The Mayo Clinic recommends starting with lifestyle modifications, including sun protection and diet changes. The Lupus Foundation of America has an excellent resource regarding common diet questions for lupus patients. Some of these include avoiding alfalfa and certain ‘nightshade vegetables,’ such as potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. The Mayo Clinic adds that some medications can be helpful. Especially immunosuppressive drugs that reduce immune response and steroids which can reduce inflammation and repair tissues.

It is important to note that you, the patient actually living with lupus and any related conditions, play an important role in helping your physician manage this disease. And if you haven’t been diagnosed yet, but suspect you may have lupus, be ready ahead of time for your visit. Have your medical history and medications list ready, be prepared to answer lots of questions regarding your symptoms, and arrive with a list of questions to ask they physician as well.

 

The preceding article is from FibromyalgiaTreating.com and posted here for sharing purposes only. No copyright infringement intended. For additional information, please visit their website or consult your physician.

 

 

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Fibromyalgia: Invisible Illness

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Have you ever heard diseases like fibromyalgia called an “invisible disability?” Essentially, invisible disabilities are conditions that can’t be seen but still have serious effects on your ability to live a normal life. The term makes a distinction between conditions like cerebral palsy, where the effects of the disability are often noticeable, and conditions like fibromyalgia.

Of course, humans depend heavily on their vision. We use our sight to make sense of the world around us and the people in it. And in spite of proverbs warning us “not to judge a book by its cover,” that’s often exactly what we do. If someone doesn’t “look” sick many people refuse to accept that they are.

That means that living with invisible disabilities is one of the hardest feats to manage when it comes to coping with long-term illness. So, how do you live with debilitating pain in a world that refuses to accept that you’re suffering? To find that out, let’s talk about some of the common invisible disabilities and some strategies for managing life with an invisible illness.

What Are Invisible Disabilities?

One of the most infuriating things about the skepticism many people display towards invisibility is that it implies that they’re rare. But the truth is that many long-term disabilities are invisible. The basic criteria is simply that a condition is not immediately apparent and impairs you enough that you can’t function normally.

By that definition, many chronic conditions could be considered invisible disabilities. For instance, someone with a traumatic brain injury may not show any outward signs of injury. And many of their functions, like walking, could be unaffected. But even so, other important functions like memory might be damaged enough that they can’t hold a job.

Or, someone might have suffered from the degeneration of the tissue between the vertebrae. This can lead to unbearable pain but leaves no outward sign of illness.

And anyone who has suffered from fibromyalgiaknows how devastating an invisible illness can be. People with fibromyalgia live with not just constant pain, but constant fatigue as well. Of course, people with fibromyalgia also know how hard it is to live with this kind of condition. And one of the hardest parts about managing a chronic, invisible illness is simply getting people to acknowledge that their condition exists.

Coping Strategies for Invisible Disabilities

Consider one of the most common forms of disability: vision loss. According to the CDC, about 3% of Americans over the age of 40 are either legally blind or visually impaired. But simply putting in contacts is enough to correct many of these people’s vision to functional levels. Technically, these people are living with an invisible disability.

No one would believe that people with contacts don’t actually have impaired vision, but that’s often the attitude that people have when it comes to other disabilities.

People with fibromyalgia are often accused of “faking it.” It’s an accusation that they’re making up a disease so that they can get special treatment or attention. Of course, that doesn’t explain why people with fibromyalgia continue to hurt when there is no one around to see it.

Or they’re accused of being crazy. They’re told that their illness is all in their head. The implication is that all they have to do is realize that they aren’t actually sick and everything will be fine. But that idea doesn’t explain why almost all doctors now agree that fibromyalgia is a real condition.

Trying to get that kind of validation from society and even doctors adds another horrible burden on people who are already living with a devastating disease. And learning how to cope with that skepticism is an important part of managing invisible disabilities.

Part of that is learning to manage your expectations of others, even when they put unfair expectations on you. The truth is that many of the people who are skeptical of conditions like fibromyalgia are really skeptical because they are ignorant. Consider any interaction with these kinds of people a chance to help spread awareness about the condition.

It’s often a good idea to prepare a basic explanation of the condition that you can fire off whenever you’re confronted with people who are skeptical. The classic spoon analogy is a good place to start if you’re looking for inspiration.

But don’t expect everyone to immediately change their minds. You can’t control the way others think. Sometimes, all you can do is try not to let their negativity get to you and politely end the conversation.

Of course, this is impossible when you’re dealing with a spouse or family member. In these situations, it’s often a good idea to seek professional counseling. And generally speaking, seeing a professional counselor is important for anyone with a chronic illness.

The pain and loneliness of these sorts of conditions can get to anyone. Just as you see a medical professional for your physical health, seeing a mental health professional is a good way to keep yourself mentally and spiritually healthy.

Being proactive about your mental and physical wellbeing is the best way to manage a chronic illness, invisible or not.

Finally, remember that you’re entitled to protection under the law for your disability. Employers cannot legally fire you for being disabled. Nor can they deny you accommodations that you need. Many people with a disability have a story of losing their job because of their condition. This is not just wrong, it is illegal. And you should carefully consider the possibility of contacting a lawyer if you feel you’ve been treated unfairly.

No one should be victimized by society simply for being disabled.

 

The preceding article is from FibromyalgiaTreating.com and posted here for sharing purposes only. No copyright infringement intended. For additional information, please visit their website or consult your physician.

 

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Fibromyalgia & Alcohol

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Raise a glass—one glass that is—and say cheers. People with fibromyalgia can consume alcoholic beverages socially, in low to moderate levels, and possibly even feel an improvement in symptoms. With one caveat regarding fibromyalgia and alcohol: Those imbibing should not also be taking sedatives, opioids, muscle relaxers or other medications for a coexisting disease or whatnot that can interact with alcohol.

Fibromyalgia and alcohol

Alcohol boosts γ-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) levels, which tend to be low in patients with fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, the FDA has not approved a drug that does the same thing that alcohol does with GABA levels. However, there are drugs approved by the FDA for the condition, and other new drugs are being explored and developed.

Daniel Clauw, MD, from the University of Michigan Medical School, is a coauthor of a study on fibromyalgia and alcohol, published in Arthritis Research & Therapy. The study found that low to moderate alcohol consumption may lower fibromyalgia symptoms and improve quality of life compared to no alcohol consumption or high alcohol consumption. Though the study was published in 2013, he says the research still stands today in 2017.

“Our study prompted Dr. Macfarlane in Scotland to look in large epidemiologic databases to see if he could find a similar association and he did. His data similarly showed that low alcohol consumption was protective against fibromyalgia symptoms compared to no or high alcohol consumption.”

The study on fibromyalgia and alcohol, which was published in Arthritis Care & Research, found that people who had chronic widespread pain were less likely to say their symptoms were disabling if they also consumed alcohol up to a moderate level.

When asked if low to moderate drinking is something that can benefit people with fibromyalgia, depending on the medications they take, Dr. Clauw says “Perhaps. They might want to at least give it a try to have a single drink a few hours before bedtime to see if they feel any better.”

Not all medical professionals, though, like suggesting that alcohol can be used to reduce fibromyalgia pain/symptoms.

The past president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, Lynn Webster, MD, says, “I think that a mild to moderate amount of alcohol is probably not going to be harmful to most patients. But I think it is another step to suggest that it be used for pain.”

Dr. Webster says that with the chronic use of alcohol, tolerance will develop and you have to increase the dose just like opioids. “That is kind of a slippery slope.” He also says that because alcohol is a rewarding substance, a subset of people who are exposed to alcohol end up having an alcohol use disorder. “They can become alcoholics.”

Another risk is drug-drug interactions. (You can check drug interactions at drugs.com and Medscape.com, or ask your pharmacist.) Dr. Webster says sedatives, muscle relaxers, opioids, and any drug taken for a coexisting medical condition can interact with alcohol. “It can get out of control and I think it can be very dangerous, particularly if somebody is taking other medications along with alcohol.”

While drinking alcohol may help symptoms for a while, Dr. Webster says, “I think it is just not prudent to recommend alcohol. If they are my patients and if they were to ask me if they could consume alcohol, it depends…. I would say in moderation alcohol can be used in people with fibromyalgia just like it can be used in people without fibromyalgia. But it should not be used to treat pain.”

So how much is okay? “If somebody has one or two glasses of wine and/or three or four per week, that would probably be acceptable. But that has to be individualized. For some people that is too much.”

Fortunately, hope is on the horizon when it comes to treatments for fibromyalgia pain and other symptoms.

“There are a number of medications in development that might be significant improvements to what is available today,” says Dr. Webster. Taking it further, he adds, “I see a day when there will be a cure for fibromyalgia.”

 

The preceding article is from FibromyalgiaTreating.com and posted here for sharing purposes only. No copyright infringement intended. For additional information, please visit their website or consult your physician.

 

 

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Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain and Depression

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If you’re dealing with fibromyalgia, then you’re in a lot of pain. It may flare up out of nowhere and it may leave just as quickly. Or it may stay for a year. But it’s a regularly occurring and debilitating event in your life. And it has definitely lasted for more than six months. That’s why they call it “chronic pain.” To make matters worse, people with fibro usually have a greater than average sensitivity to pain. In fact, research shows that chronic pain leads to unusually high levels of stress hormones, low energy, mood disorders, muscle pain, and lower-than-normal mental and physical performance. Throw in the added “bonus” of exceptionally painful nights that keep you from sleeping and you have a recipe for chronic pain and depression – if you don’t already have it to start with – and worse pain symptoms.

The Cycle of Chronic Pain and Depression

Many people with fibromyalgia cannot work a traditional job that requires them to leave home. Indeed, many fibro patients can’t even work from home. Why? The pain, depression, and constant side effects can be so debilitating that many feel they have been robbed of their lives. And if you are able to work or simply have no choice, that only exacerbates the problems, especially the pain and depression. Add in caring for children, grand kids, a partner, and even yourself. With or without those people, the pain of fibromaylgia makes you irritable and frustrated. When you feel like your hands are tied and there is no way out, it’s very common to get depressed. And then depression makes your pain worse. It’s a vicious cycle, isn’t it?

A Harvard Medical School publication explains that chronic pain “resembles depression, and the relationship is intimate. Pain is depressing, and depression causes and intensifies pain. People with chronic pain have three times the average risk of developing psychiatric symptoms — usually mood or anxiety disorders — and depressed patients have three times the average risk of developing chronic pain.” Because of the connection to pain and depression, they add that nearly every drug used in psychiatry can also be used to treat pain.

Interestingly, after Harvard authors describe the experience of pain in relation to the central nervous system and the body, the article moves directly to fibromyalgia as a noteworthy case: “Fibromyalgia may illustrate these biological links between pain and depression. Its symptoms include widespread muscle pain and tenderness at certain pressure points, with no evidence of tissue damage. Brain scans of people with fibromyalgia show highly active pain centers, and the disorder is more closely associated with depression than most other medical conditions.Fibromyalgia could be caused by a brain malfunction that heightens sensitivity to both physical discomfort and mood changes.” [emphasis added]

Treating Chronic Pain and Depression Together

The Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Daniel K. Hall-Flavin offers four key treatments that simultaneously address chronic pain and depression. As a fibro patient, most of these won’t be surprising to you, but it’s good to hear as a reminder. These treatments have helped so many fibromyalgia patients get their lives back. It usually takes a lot of trial and error and even combinations of treatments. Nevertheless, Dr. Hall Flavin recommends the following for treating chronic pain and depression:

  • Antidepressants: As was just made clear by Harvard Medical School, antidepressants can be highly effective in treating chronic pain as well as their obvious intent of treating depression. That’s due to shared chemical messengers in the brain.
  • Talk Therapy/Psychotherapy: If you’ve ever been to a good therapist or counselor, you know that they are wonderful at pointing out your “automatic” thoughts. Those are the unconscious connections we make that can wreak havoc in our lives without us even knowing. This kind of therapy is designed to reshape your thinking which can have a radical impact on both your depression and chronic pain.
  • Stress-reduction Techniques: Nearly every article related to treating fibromyalgia addresses these techniques. If you’ve never tried them or given up because you didn’t see results right away, reading about them all the time should at least make you think twice. Techniques like physical activity, exercise, meditation, journaling, and learning coping skills are all very effective in addressing many fibromyalgia symptoms, especially depression and chronic pain.
  • Pain Rehabilitation Programs: This might not be a common method you hear about for treating fibro, but it’s a gem! The best kind of programs are those that use a team approach to address your chronic pain holistically and with a team looking out for your mental and physical well-being.

Dr. Hall-Flavin adds that, “treatment for co-occurring pain and depression may be most effective when it involves a combination of treatments.” Again, this make take some more trial and error. What works for me, might not work for you and vice versa.

 

The preceding article is from FibromyalgiaTreating.com and posted here for sharing purposes only. No copyright infringement intended. For additional information, please visit their website or consult your physician.

 

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