What is Fibromyalgia Syndrome?
If it can’t be seen, it can’t be smelled, it can’t be touched, tasted or felt by everyone, it must not exist, right? Wrong.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic syndrome. A syndrome is a condition comprised of many symptoms or other conditions. “Fibro” is the combining word used for “fibers” and “myalgia” is defined as “muscular pain”. Slap these words together and you get the gist. Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread or localized pain in the muscles, as well as fatigue, sleep disturbances and a number of other possible symptoms. Research has shown that while the condition was originally thought to be arthritis related, it is in fact a Neuroendocrine illness. This has to do with the fact that those with Fibro, tend to show triple to quadruple the normal levels of substance P. Substance P is, in part, responsible for pain processing within the central nervous system. More substance P equals more messages of pain being sent to the brain. Additionally, some sufferers tend to have growth hormone and somatomedin C deficiencies. Somatomedin C is a hormone that aids in the growth of muscle and bone. Other deficiencies include: Serotonin (the “happy” chemical), Cortisol, Dopamine and Norepinephrine (stress hormones). Shortages of adenosine triphosphate and phosphocreatine may also be found in those with Fibromyalgia. These chemicals promote contraction and relaxation of muscles. The endocrine and neurological abnormalities cause all of the dysfunction going on in the nervous system and cause the sufferer to become hypersensitive. Maybe that’s why you smell that odor that no one else does, hear the sirens before anyone else, can’t take the heat or cold without wanting to rip your hair out. I simply call them my “superhero” senses. The sensitivity can cause instant irritability.
A bit of a mouthful, but next time someone tells you “it’s all in your head”, you can essentially agree with them, and follow with these scientific findings that relate Fibromyalgia to your brain stiffing you on important chemicals and hormones. Before research was conducted, the condition was largely thought to be psychosomatic amongst medical professionals. Unfortunately, Fibromyalgia is real. It has been proven so, enough to where it is now considered a disability by the government, and required to be covered by health insurance plans. The more research that takes place, the more answers are found. Possibly, one day, there will be effective treatments. Until then, it’s important to own it and not let it own you, by taking a healthy, natural approach to living with Fibromyalgia. As impossible as it may seem, it can be done. Fibromyalgia is not a fatal condition!
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is thought to be set off by severe physical and/or emotional trauma, however, research is beginning to show a possible genetic predisposition to the condition. This means that people may be predestined to have symptoms of Fibro, should they experience a traumatic event or exposure to other experiences that may bring about the syndrome. Possible traumatic experiences include (but are not limited to) major car accidents with neck and back injuries, as well as surgeries and surgical complications.
How is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed?
While there are tests to scientifically confirm certain symptoms for Fibromyalgia, there is no test to diagnose the condition as a whole. Generally, a doctor will evaluate via a series of questions and tests for other symptoms. At one point “the tender point” test was used to diagnose Fibromyalgia, but because it proved inaccurate, it is being phased out. The test consisted of applying pressure to the 18 most common areas of complaint, as far as pain goes. If a patient reacted to 11 of the 18 points, a diagnosis may have been made. This test IS still sometimes done, but may not rule out or diagnose the condition on it’s own. Doctors may ask their patient a series of questions, and after ruling out other disorders, can more accurately confirm a diagnosis. He or she will evaluate medical history and take any physical or emotional traumas into consideration, as these can trigger Fibro by throwing off the release of certain chemicals to the brain. The road to diagnosis will depend on the aggression and thoroughness of the chosen physician. It’s important to make sure there is not another serious, underlying cause for your symptoms.
Brain scans have been performed to compare that of a Fibro sufferer and of one experiencing no similar symptoms. The research shows that those with the condition have a brain that functions differently than that of a healthy individual. Decreased blood flow to the area of the brain where pain is processed, was found, amongst other findings.