The world of medicine can sometimes be a fascinating place to wonder in. It can be confusing, odd and somehow belittling – especially when not even medical professionals can actually explain things. And no matter how far we’ve come with technology and with our constant search for better treatments, there are still many medical conditions that leave doctors baffled.
Fibromyalgia is one of them. Up until not very long ago, this syndrome has not even been admitted as having a status of its own until people realized that the pain and the other symptoms are just as real as it gets. There is really a lot to fibromyalgia that we still have to understand but with every new discovery made in this niche, several other questions arise.
For the 5 million Americans suffering every single day due to this syndrome, it cannot get more real than that. Some have milder versions of it, while for some fibromyalgia has changed their lives. And yet, for all of them the answers are still not out there, to show them how to treat themselves once and for all and to teach them how to prevent the pain.
Fibromyalgia – What is It, More Exactly?
Fibromyalgia is not a disease proper, but a set of symptoms that can differ a lot from one person to another. In addition to this, the symptoms can be very similar to the symptoms of other medical conditions out there. All these things make fibromyalgia very difficult to diagnose. Also, the treatment that will be applied will depend on the particular symptoms that person shows.
As it was also mentioned before, fibromyalgia has been recognized as a syndrome of its own only quite recently. Before that, most of the medical professionals categorized it under a different form of depression (and some of them still do, considering the fact that depression very frequently occurs with fibromyalgia patients)
There are many symptoms fibromyalgia patients can experience. Widespread chronic pain is the most common one of them, but in addition to it, patients can also experience the following symptoms:
- Sleep disturbances (insomnia, sleepless leg syndrome and so on)
- Muscles spasms (usually prolonged)
- Tingling of the skin
- Muscle twitching
- Nerve pain
- Irritable bowel syndrome (bloating, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, abdominal pain and so on)
- Jaw dysfunctions
- Sensitivity to odors, light or other stimulants
- Irritable bladder
- Feeling like swelling in the hands and feet
Causes That Lead to Fibromyalgia
One of the most difficult issues with fibromyalgia is related to the fact that its causes remain unknown. There are various theories going around this topic, but there is no unanimous agreement on what exactly leads to the development of this syndrome. What most of the researchers agree on though is related to the idea that there is a single cause for the development of fibromyalgia, but a series of causes and risk factors that eventually make the body react this way.
A large number of the specialists researching this issue have put forward the idea that fibromyalgia is related to the way in which the brain secrets a neurotransmitter called serotonin. This substance is responsible with making the body feel calm and it reduces the anxiety.
When the brain secrets too little of this neurotransmitter, it may be that the body will not function properly when it comes to how it senses pain – which is precisely why the pain in the case of the fibromyalgia patients can be very intense.
From this point on, there are also several adjacent theories that are connected to how fibromyalgia actually develops. At this point in the research made by the specialists, these theories are just speculative, but they may provide a good starting point for further learning.
- Trauma seems to be one of the triggering events that may lead to the development of fibromyalgia. According to those sustaining this theory, trauma to the brain or to the spinal cord can lead to a series of reactions that eventually make for the onset of fibromyalgia and its symptoms.
- Sleep disturbances are somewhere in between being the cause for the development of fibromyalgia and the symptoms. Some specialists argue that lack of sleep makes the brain secret too little serotonin, which consequently alters the way in which the body feels pain.
- Stress and poor physical condition appear very frequently named among the causes that could lead to the onset of fibromyalgia as well.
Also, specialists have found that there is a list of risk factors when it comes to how fibromyalgia develops and that it includes the following:
- Being a woman: studies show that women are more prone to develop fibromyalgia than men
- Rheumatic disease: according to the studies made in the field, people with a rheumatic disease are more prone to develop this syndrome
- Trauma to the brain and spinal cord which are considered both causes and risk factors, depending on the approach of the researchers
- Poor physical conditioning is also named among the risk factors that make the onset of fibromyalgia more likely
One of the theories that have been debated when it comes to the causes/risk factors of fibromyalgia is related to the fact that it may be related to one’s genes. Research shows that people coming from families where fibromyalgia has already been diagnosed (or simply present, but not correctly diagnosed) are several times more likely to actually develop the same condition.
Further research has also shown that fibromyalgia may actually be related to several genes in the human body, which are responsible for the way in which the body reacts to pain.
When these genes are altered, it seems that the body of the patient feels pain at higher levels than people who don’t have these genes altered.
These are just at the point of theory and there may be some time before everyone agrees on one idea only. Until then, the separate symptoms of fibromyalgia can be ameliorated through medication and home remedies and many people have learned to live with this condition, recovering the lives that have been affected by the pain and by the other symptoms they experienced due to fibromyalgia.