Fibromyalgia and the Central Nervous System


MS or Fibro

Fibromyalgia is one of those illnesses that has probably been around for much longer than what we think.

It is just now that this illness is starting to gain the attention that it needs.

More and more people are being diagnosed with this. In the past, many people were misdiagnosed as having rheumatoid arthritis or another similar illness that wreaks havoc on the body.

Now that we understand fibromyalgia more, one of the more common questions that people ask is if this is an illness that is associated with the central nervous system. This is a good question and the answer may surprise many people.

The Given Answer

If you were to ask a medical professional if fibromyalgia is something that is due to issues in the central nervous system, they will often state “not really”. Why is this?

Fibromyalgia is often categorized as a chronic pain condition that causes the pain and tenderness throughout the body.

However, fibromyalgia is actually associated with the central nervous system. How is this?

  1. Fibromyalgia is affected by the brain.
  2. The illness affects the way in which the brain is processing the pain signals.
  3. This is why the pain is often so hard for a person who has fibromyalgia, as their pain signals are firing constantly.
  4. Much of the pain that a person is feeling is also coming from the spinal cord.

Thus, fibromyalgia does have an origin of being from the central nervous system.

The Old Answer

For those who were diagnosed with fibromyalgia years ago, they were more than likely told that it was a psychosomatic problem.

During this time, many medical professionals believed that fibromyalgia was caused by a mental factor or that it was aggravated by a mental problem.

These mental problems were something along stress or internal conflicts. They would often want the person to treat the stress or inner conflict that they were having and they would then believe that the person was cured.

However, research and studies into this illness have ruled this out. Though, many medical professionals are quick to point out that stress can make some symptoms worse as this does affect the immune system.

What is interesting is that many years ago, this was a purely mental issue that doctors said only women get.

They believed this was due to the “fragile state of mind” that a woman was once thought to have.

However, we know better now. While men are not as likely to get this issue, they can still develop fibromyalgia.

The old ideas are coming to an end, as we learn more and more about what makes this issue and how we can learn how to live with this and provide treatment.

Why These Findings are Important?

It is super valuable to know what we know now.

Now that we know that fibromyalgia is something that is stemming from the brain and the spine, we know what treatments may work and what will probably not work.

For those who are suffering with the pain and the fatigue, they are going to find their doctors have new ideas on how to treat these symptoms.

Some of the newer methods that are being seen now, that were not given as options thirty years ago include:

Physical therapy

Many people have found that physical therapy helps them to learn how to move through the pain, and how to gain greater strength in their body.

While this therapy is often associated with those who have had accidents, it is a great option for others who are dealing with fibromyalgia.

Massage

Massage therapy is a must for many fibromyalgia patients who find that this helps to ease the pain that they may be feeling.

In addition, it also helps to lower stress levels which many claims make their pain flare up worse when they are highly stressed.

Yoga

This gentle exercise has been shown to help a patient to develop the muscles that they need to function and keep them limber.

Many people complain of having issues with walking due to having to sit for such a long period of time due to the pain that they are in.

Swim therapy

While it may not be a traditional therapy many of those who suffer from fibromyalgia are finding that walking in the water is doing a world of relief for their pain and allowing them to maintain their mobility.

It is worth looking into to see if a rehab center near you may be offering this cutting-edge therapy.

Do Mind Workouts Help?

One question that many people have when they do discover that fibromyalgia can be linked to the brain is whether those mind workouts that are seen could help?

It is important to note that the mind is not the issue. Fibromyalgia is not something that is going to go away with wishful thinking or strengthening your brain power.

However, strengthening your brain power may be something that you want to do either way.

The brain plays a role in the pain that is being felt. There are many people who claim that they can reach a meditative state in which their brain is no longer registered the pain. In this case, learning how to conditions one’s brain in this manner could prove helpful.

However, remember that meditation is something that you must work at continuously to truly get the benefits of this.

For those who are still confused as to how fibromyalgia can be considered a central nervous disorder by some and not by others, they will need to talk with their doctor. As we learn more about fibromyalgia, this definition may change.

However, we must keep learning about this illness and what we can do in order to treat it effectively.

Every year, more and more people are diagnosed with this, and it is greatly impacting the quality of life that they once had.

The preceding article is from Living with Fibromyalgia and posted here for sharing purposes only. For additional information, please visit their website.
It is wise never to begin or end any treatment or therapy without first discussing it with your primary care physician.

Fibromyalgia and Advanced Pain Management


Pain Management


When it comes to pain management, fibromyalgia is a tough nut to crack. Part of that is the fact that it causes such widespread pain that seems to affect the entire body (though it’s actually located in 18 specific points). And part of it is the fact that not only do we not know what causes fibromyalgia, we don’t even know for sure why fibromyalgia causes pain.

So if you’re trying to manage the pain of fibromyalgia, often the basic things that people use to treat chronic pain diseases aren’t enough, which is where advanced pain management comes in. But what exactly is advanced pain management? And what are some advanced pain management techniques that might work for fibromyalgia?

What is Advanced Pain Management

On a basic level, advanced pain management is just what it sounds like it would be based on the name. It’s an effort to treat chronic pain that doesn’t respond to the traditional techniques doctors use to treat pain. Usually, pain management takes a pretty predictable path. First, your doctor will make a judgment of what is causing your pain by attempting to diagnose your condition.

Next, they will try to treat the underlying condition which causes the pain. That seems obvious, right? If you have a broken arm, the doctor will try to set the bone back and give you a cast, hoping that once your bone heals it will stop hurting.

But in the meantime, your pain isn’t going anywhere so the doctor will prescribe a series of medications to help dull the pain. Usually, this will involve an opioid-based painkiller at some point, because these are generally the most effective drugs for relieving pain.

Most of the time, this works. But when it comes to fibromyalgia, that all goes out the window. We don’t know how to cure the underlying condition in someone with fibromyalgia. So, we can’t aim to eliminate their pain the way we would with people with most other diseases. Instead, pain management for fibromyalgia takes the form of long-term alleviation of pain. We can’t cure the pain, so we just try to find a way to make the suffering as bearable as possible in the long term. That’s where advanced pain management comes in.

Advanced Pain Management Techniques for Fibromyalgia

In most cases, when you’ve exhausted the normal ways of treating pain because you have a chronic pain condition like fibromyalgia, you’ll find yourself being referred to a pain specialist at some point. These are doctors who focus on the treatment and management of long term pain. Usually, they work out of dedicated clinics with a team of other specialists.

Unlike general practitioners, pain management specialists try to create a plan tailored specifically for their patient. They can take into consideration numerous factors like the patient’s age, medical history, and what treatments their condition has been resistant to so far to develop a pain management plan that works for them using their expertise and the help of their team.

And many pain specialists employ a number of different techniques to help with the pain of fibromyalgia. Rather than simply using the types of drugs normally prescribed for fibromyalgia (Lyrica, Cymbalta, Savella), a pain specialist might employ techniques like mindfulness meditation, acupuncture, behavioral therapy, or myofascial massage.

That’s not to say that those traditional pain medications shouldn’t play a role in an advanced pain management plan. Any effective pain management plan should be based on the latest research and the expertise of your doctor. The point is to achieve results. You want to experience as little fibromyalgia pain as possible. So any method that your doctor feels might be effective is probably worth a try. And because pain specialists have seen so many patients dealing with chronic pain, they often have a better idea than most doctors about which therapies might be effective.

So when you consider that fibromyalgia is a serious condition that will probably require a specialized form of pain management, it may be worth seeing a pain management specialist. Always consult with your doctor before making any major medical decisions, but ultimately what you decide to do is up to you. You have to pursue the treatments that are best for you.

You can find a number of resources here that will help you find a pain specialist near you if you’re interested in pursuing your own advanced pain management plan.

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The preceding article is from FibromyalgiaTreating.com and posted here for sharing purposes only. For additional information, please visit their website.

 

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6 Fun Activities for People with Chronic Pain


Farmer's Market


It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the idea of going on outings when you suffer from chronic pain. However, having chronic pain does not mean that you are not permitted to have fun with your loved ones. We need to be able to get out and experience life just like anyone else. The most important part of choosing what activities for people with chronic pain that you are going to do, is knowing your body and your pain. You have to be realistic with yourself about what you are capable of. Another important thing to think about is the facilities available at wherever you are choosing to go. Is there a place to sit and rest? Is it easy for me to get to the car and leave if I need to? How much walking is required? These are important things to consider when deciding how to get out and experience life. Here are some suggestions of activities for people with chronic pain that may make outings more plausible.

6 activities for people with chronic pain

Farmers markets and street fairs

In small towns and big cities all over, there are street festivals, farmers markets, and craft fairs. These functions are great for several reasons. Primarily, you can tailor your outing to your own capabilities. If you can only walk a short distance, then you can stay as close to your car as you need to. If you can measure your ability to walk around in fractions of hours, or entire hours, then just be conscious of how long it will take for you to get back to the car, and where your pain levels are at. Farmers markets, fairs, and festivals are great activities for people with chronic pain that allow you to support your community and sustainable practices while placing yourself in an environment that you can customize to your needs.

Sunday (or any day) drive

I love to hop in the car and explore the countryside. This is a great way to get out and see the world from the comfort of a car seat. This idea of activities for people with chronic pain is dependent on your relationship with riding in cars. Some people cannot go very far at all in a car without being in absolute agony. For others, they are fine as they are seated. If riding in a car is comfortable to you, use that car to get yourself into the world. I have taken several road trips around the United States in a car. There are times where the pain rears its head, and you have to address the situation. But generally, going for drives and road trips can be a great way to get out of the house and see nature.

Antiquing

One of my favorite activities for people with chronic pain to do while out on those Sunday drives is antiquing. You never know when an antique store will pop up in the middle of nowhere, and they give you a chance to stretch your legs and look at neat stuff. It is especially fun if you have anything in particular that you are looking for. If you are into interior decorating, collect a certain brand or style of antique, or are looking for a specific piece that your mom or grandmother had, then antiquing literally becomes a treasure hunt. Also, when you are in a store and start hurting, that means that it is time to leave.

Picnics

Picnics are great because you can walk as far from your vehicle as you want before stopping to dine al fresco. If you chose the location well, you may even have the undivided attention of the family because of a lack of cell service. You can make the meal as easy, romantic,  or extravagant as you want. Here are some great ideas for picnic meals. Picnics are really fun activities for people with chronic pain.

Walking tours of historic sites

There are historic sites and world heritage sites all over the place that we don’t necessarily know about. A simple internet search can help you find all sorts of interesting sites. While walking around the site you can learn something and you can rest or retreat if needed.

Swimming

Whether you prefer to swim in a lake, river, or pool, swimming is a great way to get out of the house, get some sun and get some exercise. Floating in water is a great way to ease the constant pressure on your body, and if the water is cold enough, it can also help with reducing inflammation.  Further, swimming is a great way to get active when it seems too painful to do anything else.

These are just a few ideas that will get you out of the house and into the sun. It is far too easy to sit in a dark house and let pain dictate your exposure to the outside world. It is important to take your life into your own hands, and find out what your limitations are. These are a few ways to test your limits in a controlled way without too much risk. Get out there and experience life!

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The preceding article is from FibromyalgiaTreating.com and is posted here for sharing purposes only. For additional information please visit their website.
Though physical activity/exercise is highly recommended in most treatment plans for those diagnosed with chronic illnesses, your primary care physician should be consulted before starting any new regimen.

Dysmenorrhea and Fibromyalgia


Dysmenorrhea and Fibro


From FibromyalgiaTreating.com

Dysmenorrhea is a painful condition that affects a lot of women. Essentially, it’s the medical term for a period of sharp pain that accompanies the menstrual period. It’s a common condition, and there are a number of things that can cause it. But when you have fibromyalgia, the pain of dysmenorrhea can be much worse.

Furthermore, severe dysmenorrhea is common enough in women with fibromyalgia that it could even be described as a symptom of fibromyalgia for some people. It’s one of those hundreds of other symptoms that come with fibromyalgia and make it the massive collection of misery that this condition is. So, what exactly is dysmenorrhea? How does it relate to fibromyalgia? And what can you do to treat it?

What is Dysmenorrhea?

Dysmenorrhea is a term that describes sharp pains whenever you have your menstrual period. The pain usually starts around a day or so before menstruation and spreads from the abdomen to the lower back and thighs. It can range from mild discomfort to a feeling like getting stabbed in the pelvis. But in severe cases, the symptoms aren’t limited to pain. Having a major episode of dysmenorrhea can effectively disable you for two to three days.

Symptoms can, in addition to pain, include things that we typically associate with the flu. Fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting are all common in cases of dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea is the sort of pain most women are familiar with, commonly called “menstrual cramps.” Most of the time, primary dysmenorrhea isn’t cause for much concern, unless the pain is especially severe, which of course it can be.

But secondary dysmenorrhea is often a sign that something serious is going on. The term describes menstrual cramping caused by another condition. These conditions can include things like uterine fibroids ( benign cysts in the uterus), adenomyosis ( a condition where the uterine wall grows into the muscle surrounding the uterus), or even fibromyalgia.

Dysmenorrhea and Fibromyalgia

Almost every woman will experience menstrual cramps at some point in their life. But women with fibromyalgia often experience particularly severe pain when it comes to cramping. And the most likely explanation behind this fact is that fibromyalgia causes a general sensitization of the nervous system.

People with fibromyalgia seem to experience nearly every form of pain more intensely. And that holds true with menstrual cramping. Women with fibromyalgia seem to have more painful episodes of cramping and may even experience cramping more frequently.

And the symptoms of dysmenorrhea can also make your fibromyalgia symptoms worse. Fibromyalgia causes chronic fatigue, as does severe menstrual cramping, so it’s easy to see how a particularly bad episode of cramping could make the already difficult task of getting out of bed when you have fibro even harder.

And the other symptoms of dysmenorrhea like diarrhea are also occasional symptoms of fibromyalgia, so it’s not hard to imagine how the two conditions can compound each other, each making the other harder to bear.

How can you Treat it?

Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of good ways to treat menstrual cramping. Most forms of treatment offer temporary or ineffective relief. And the only ways to totally cure it are invasive surgery, which is generally not something you want to go through when you have fibro.

The most common form of treatment is basic, over-the-counter painkillers like aspirin and ibuprofen. This class of drugs is called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and they work by blocking certain enzymes your body produces that lead to pain. Of course, if you’ve ever tried taking aspirin for severe cramps you know that they often aren’t totally effective.

The other drug commonly prescribed for cramping is oral contraceptives. These drugs work by disrupting the natural flow of hormones that govern your menstrual cycle. And certain oral contraceptives can stop your menstrual cycle altogether, which helps with the cramping. Besides drugs, other options like placing a heating pad on the stomach can offer at least partial relief.

The only way to totally cure dysmenorrhea is a partial or total hysterectomy, which removes part or all of your uterus. Obviously, this is a radical solution as it carries a wide range of surgical risks and eliminates the possibility of having children. Generally, this option should be avoided if possible. But if you don’t intend on having children and your pain is truly unbearable, it may be something to discuss with your doctor.

The preceding article is posted here for sharing purposes only. For additional information, please visit FibromyalgiaTreating.com.
Image from Shutterstock

Peripheral Neuropathy and Fibromyalgia


Medical Record

Anyone ever heard of – or been diagnosed with small nerve fiber neuropathy? I’ve heard so many screwball therapies and “cures” about and for FM and been misdiagnosed so many times, all the chatter usually falls by the wayside with me. My sister got my attention with small nerve fiber neuropathy, however, because it’s treatable!  It can also be diagnosed with ONE test… in a doctor’s office! I am a little leery of any test which has the word “punch” in the name (skin punch test). But at this point, nothing is off the table.

Read the article below and check with your doctor. Maybe… just maybe, your Fibromyalgia isn’t Fibromyalgia.

(My sister has Type II diabetes but received a diagnosis for Fibromyalgia long before the onset of diabetes. Her skin punch test was negative for small nerve fiber neuropathy. Not encouraging because of genetics, but I still plan to give it a shot.)

From FibromyalgiaTreating.com

Have you ever heard of peripheral neuropathy? If you don’t deal with chronic pain conditions, odds are good that you haven’t encountered this particular piece of medical jargon. But if you have a condition like fibromyalgia, peripheral neuropathy might actually play a significant role in your disease and it’s symptoms.

In fact, some people have even suggested that it might be at the root of fibromyalgia. But what exactly is peripheral neuropathy? And how does it relate to fibromyalgia?

What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Neuropathy is, to break the word down,  a disorder (pathy) related to the nerves (neuro). And peripheral neuropathy is a disorder of the nerves that extends throughout the peripheries of the body (so beyond the brain, basically).  And since the nerves connect the body and the brain and are responsible for physical sensations like pain, a breakdown in this connection can lead to serious problems.

The nerves transmit signals from the skin to the brain, which the brain then interprets and sends back down the nerves. This is why you feel pain in your hand when you touch a hot stove. You’re not actually feeling pain in your hand, the sensation of pain is coming from your brain. But your brain relies on the signals from your hand to know that you are being injured and it signals that your hand is hurting as you pull it away. This system helps us avoid serious injuries.

But when it comes to people dealing with nerve pain conditions, those signals get crossed, and your brain starts triggering pain signals without any actual injury.

And there are many different kinds of this condition depending on where in the body they occur and how severe they are but there are two main categories: mononeuropathy and polyneuropathy.

Mononeuropathy means that only a single nerve connection is damaged. Injuries are the most common cause of mononeuropathy. A good example is carpal tunnel syndrome, which is caused when a repetitive stress injury in the hands and wrist damages the nerves in the hand. Polyneuropathy occurs when several nerve connections are damaged. Diabetes is a good example.

And in all forms of neuropathy. The damaged nerves cause pain, numbness, and tingling. And the symptoms can range from a minor annoyance to very severe.

Neuropathy and Fibromyalgia

The idea of pain with no obvious cause probably sounds familiar to people who suffer from fibromyalgia. And nerve damage might play a much larger role in the condition than you suspect. A study conducted by a Harvard-affiliated hospital in Massachusetts found that almost half of the fibromyalgia patients in the study had evidence of something called small nerve fiber neuropathy.

Small nerve fiber neuropathy is basically nerve pain caused by damage to some of the small nerves that carry pain and touch signals from the skin to the brain.  As that study demonstrated, half of all fibromyalgia patients have the condition. And many also have less of these small nerve fibers than they should.

This implies that the root of fibromyalgia pain might actually be neuropathy in some patients. Their brains are sending pain signals even though there’s no actual damage. This would explain the mystery pain, but there are a few problems with presenting neuropathy as a comprehensive explanation of fibromyalgia.

To begin with, not all patients with fibromyalgia have small nerve fiber neuropathy. So, this theory doesn’t explain what’s going on in those patients. And it doesn’t explain why these patients are developing neuropathy in the first place

But the fact that half of all fibromyalgia patients have small nerve fiber neuropathy implies that something is going on. Some people have suggested that what is actually going on is that a significant portion of people who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia are actually suffering from small nerve fiber neuropathy, but because the symptoms are so similar, it’s difficult to tell them apart.

It’s an interesting theory, and because small fiber neuropathy is treatable, it could shift the way we treat fibromyalgia. And it is especially interesting because, if true, it might mean that fibromyalgia is actually not a single condition but a wide spectrum of neuropathic conditions all presenting similar symptoms. Luckily, there is a simple test that you can get to determine if you have small fiber neuropathy called a “punch biopsy.”

So if you have fibromyalgia, it may be worth looking into getting this test, because it might mean having access to new treatment options. And this new way of looking at fibromyalgia may even help us steer research to a breakthrough. At the moment, this remains a theory, but it is an interesting one.

The preceding article is posted here for sharing purposes only. For additional information, please visit FibromyalgiaTreating.com.

Fibromyalgia and Multiple Sclerosis

MS or Fibro

There is so much mystery in the world of fibromyalgia, in large part because it effects everyone differently. Another reason for the mystery is due to the similarity in fibro symptoms compared to other diseases and syndromes. Fibromyalgia is sometimes misdiagnosed as a different problem and vice versa. This is because the myriad of symptoms associated with fibro are commonly found in other illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, also known as MS. So how can you tell if it’s fibromyalgia or multiple sclerosis?

What Exactly is MS?

The National MS Society defines it as follows: “Multiple sclerosis (MS) involves an immune-mediated process in which an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.” If you or a loved one live with fibromyalgia, you can definitely spot some familiar buzz words and phrases, can’t you? Specifically, “immune system,” “abnormal response,” and “central nervous system.” In fact, the similarities in symptoms become quite striking when you review a side-by-side comparison. Note that most, not all, of the fibromyalgia symptoms overlap with MS symptoms, making it difficult to distinguish whether it’s fibromyalgia or multiple sclerosis:

MS SYMTPOMS FIBROMYALGIA SYMPTOMS
Fatigue Fatigue/Exhaustion
Numbness or Tingling Numbness &/or Tingling
Weakness Muscle Weakness
Dizziness & Vertigo Dizziness
Pain Pain
Emotional Changes Anxiety
Walking (Gait) Difficulties Impaired Coordination
Spasticity (i.e., muscle stiffness and spasms) Muscular aching, throbbing, & twitching
Vision Problems Vision Problems
Bladder Problems Bladder Problems
Bowel Problems Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Cognitive Changes Cognitive Problems
Depression Depression
Tremor Restless Leg Syndrome
Headache Headaches/Migraines
Swallowing Problems Dry Eyes & Mouth
Itching Itching &/or Burning
Sexual Problems Insomnia/Poor sleep
Speech Problems Ringing in the Ears
Breathing Problems Neurological Symptoms
Seizures Skin Sensitivities & Rashes
Hearing Loss

It is plain to see many similarities in symptoms between fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis, including clear neurological connections associated with pain, numbness, and tingling. However, experts explain that unlike MS, fibromyalgia does not show up as brain lesions on an MRI. Furthermore, while both conditions have no known source, MS is distinctly categorized as an auto-immune disease, but fibromyalgia is not. So that is one way to determine if it’s fibromyalgia or multiple sclerosis.

A key difference in MS is that the patient actually accrues long-term nerve damage which leads to physical and cognitive impairments. In fact, some types of MS are progressive. Primary Progressive MS (PPMS), for example, “is characterized by worsening neurologic function (accumulation of disability) from the onset of symptoms, without early relapses or remissions.” While fibromyalgia, on the other hand, is often mistakenly considered an arthritic condition, it does not actually cause damage to joints, muscles, or tissues.

Just What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is primarily characterized by chronic and wide-spread pain. A close second is the debilitating fatigue. But as you can see from the chart above, the symptoms are quite broad. The problem many patients run into is that fibromyalgia resembles so many other conditions that it’s usually difficult to nail down a diagnosis. However, some physicians are more inclined to spot it than others.

How Are MS and Fibromyalgia Evaluated?

The University of Maryland Medical Center explains that a fibromyalgia diagnosis is comprised of a detailed muscle exam that includes checking for tenderness at specific locations on the body. Rating the severity of specific symptoms is another key part of the exam. The symptoms must be present for at least three months. They add that there are no blood, urine, or laboratory tests which can provide a conclusive fibromyalgia diagnosis. However, fibro diagnosis also means that no other disorder or condition can explain the symptoms.

Diagnosing MS, however, is quite different because it causes several more neurological symptoms than fibromyalgia. Thus, exams tend to focus on brain and nerve function, including a brain MRI and sometimes a spinal tap. Even though MS can also be difficult to diagnose, it is often easier than fibromyalgia. This is because the evaluation requires searching for lesions or damaged areas to the central nervous system.

How Can I Tell if it’s fibromyalgia or multiple sclerosis?

It’s true that the similarities between multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia are striking. But given the neurological damage caused by MS, it is a condition that is slightly easier to target than fibromyalgia. Patients with MS are usually treated by a neurologist. But so are many fibro patients. As such, a neurologist likely has a keen eye in making the distinction between the two.

From Fibromyalgia Treating.com and posted here for sharing purposes only.  Please check their website for additional information.
Image from Shutterstock

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia

From Fibromyalgia Treating:

Both of these conditions cause the kind of long-term fatigue that you might be experiencing, and both are devastating to have to live with. So, it’s important that if you think there’s a chance you have either condition that you take the time to learn more about them and how they are managed. So what are chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, and what can be done to treat them?

What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Doctors don’t know much about chronic fatigue syndrome. They don’t know what causes it, and in fact, they aren’t completely sure what it even is. Some suspect that it might be an autoimmune condition or the late stages of some previously undescribed disease.

But regardless of what chronic fatigue syndrome actually is, there are a few symptoms that are a dead give away. First, there is the fatigue. Obviously, the main sign of chronic fatigue syndrome is that it causes you to feel tired over a long period. Doctors consider any fatigue lasting from 3-6 months to be “chronic.”

People with chronic fatigue syndrome feel a chronic fatigue that is hard to cope with. They often nod off during the day at bad times or have a hard time performing mentally challenging tasks due to the fact that they are constantly exhausted.

But what sets chronic fatigue syndrome apart from the many other diseases that cause chronic fatigue is that there are also some physical symptoms. Often in chronic fatigue syndrome, patients get frequent sore throats and muscle pains. This had led to the speculation that chronic fatigue syndrome is an autoimmune disorder since these are symptoms associated with autoimmune disorders, but so far there’s not medical consensus on the issue.

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Like chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia leaves sufferers feeling run down much of the time. On top of the fact that people with fibromyalgia often have a hard time sleeping, the condition itself leaves them feeling fatigued. And also like with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia seems to have no obvious cause.

Some doctors think it’s an autoimmune disorder and others blame everything from diet to overactive microglia in the brain. But no matter what the actual cause of fibromyalgia is, the symptoms are often hard to deal with. There’s the chronic fatigue but also the extreme pain in the muscles that seems to flare up from time to time and the mental fog that makes it difficult to think. In addition, there’s a wide variety of more unusual symptoms such as chronic itching and IBS.

How Are Chronic Fatigue Syndrome And Fibromyalgia Treated?

If you have either chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia, you’re probably most concerned with finding a cure. Unfortunately, there isn’t much in the way of an effective cure at the moment… for either condition. That means that by and large your life after a chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia diagnosis will mostly be limited to trying to find some way to manage such disabling conditions.

Luckily, there are a few different ways that fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are treated. For fibromyalgia, the only drugs that are officially approved for treatment are anti-depressants. For some people who suffer from fibromyalgia, these anti-depressants are effective in treating their symptoms. But others find little relief from them. But there are a number of other drugs that people with fibromyalgia turn to, particularly a class of drugs called anticonvulsants. Though these are usually used for treating epilepsy, many people with fibromyalgia feel that they work well for their symptoms.

This is also similar to chronic fatigue syndrome, which is often treated with antidepressants as well. But other ways to manage chronic fatigue focus on things like diet and exercise. While these are certainly not a cure for the condition, they can help quite a lot with the severity of your symptoms. And this is also the case with fibromyalgia as patients who maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle consistently report less severe fibromyalgia symptoms.

And that shows the degree to which chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia are related. Both produce similar symptoms and are treated in similar ways. And until doctors know what causes these conditions, being able to manage them is, unfortunately, the best people who suffer from them will be able to hope for. But managing the conditions starts with learning about them.

Information is from FibromyalgiaTreating.com and is posted here for sharing purposes only.
Image from Flickr