Hyperreflexia and Fibromyalgia


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While we often think of fibromyalgia as a disease of the body, many people with the condition suffer from symptoms related to the brain. For instance, many people with fibromyalgia experience something called hyperreflexia.

Hyperreflexia is a neurological symptom, meaning that it’s related to the brain and nervous system. And while the condition isn’t life-threatening, it can be difficult to live with. So, let’s talk about what hyperreflexia is, how it might be related to fibromyalgia, and what you can do to treat it.

What Is Hyperreflexia?

Hyperreflexia is a condition where, as you might have guessed from the name, your reflexes become more sensitive. Usually, that means that you become more sensitive to things that stimulate the reflexes. And this reaction can take a few different forms.

For instance, there are the finger flexion reflexes. In cases of hyperreflexia, the natural motion of extending the fingers can cause them to suddenly contract. Or there’s the jaw jerk reflex. In this case, a light touch to the jaw might cause the mouth to suddenly clench.

These sorts of over-active reflexes are a good sign that you’re suffering from hyperreflexia.

The most common cause of hyperreflexia is spinal cord injury. But there are a lot of things that can lead to the condition. Certain medications can lead to the condition. So can imbalances of electrolytes in the body. And for reasons we don’t completely understand, there seems to be a link between the condition and fibromyalgia.

How Is It Related To Fibromyalgia?

We aren’t completely sure why some people with fibromyalgia have hyperreflexia. Obviously, the condition has something to do with the nervous system. And there does seem to be a significant link between the nervous system and the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Patients with fibromyalgia are more likely to show neurological symptoms that the general population.

What might be most interesting about the relationship between neurological symptoms like hyperreflexia and fibromyalgia is what it can tell us about the possible cause of the disease itself. In fact, fibromyalgia may be more closely related to the nervous system than we ever realized.

Many people with fibromyalgia have neurological symptoms like tingling in the limbs, chronic itching, and often problems with motor skills.  Studies have shown that these symptoms are so common that it suggests a link between the disease itself and the neurological conditions.

Not only that, but many people who develop fibromyalgia do so after a serious injury. We know that those kinds of injuries can have a serious impact on the nervous system. Often, trauma to the nerves like that of serious injuries creates something called central sensitization. This makes you more sensitive to sources of pain and may play a role in how intense your fibromyalgia symptoms are.

And what’s particularly interesting is that fibromyalgia is 13 times more likely after an injury to the neck or spine than to the lower limbs. This might mean that damage to the nervous system can actually lead to fibromyalgia.

Of course, many people who have fibromyalgia have never suffered those kinds of injuries. So, it’s almost certainly not be as simple as saying that injuries to the nervous system cause fibromyalgia. But neurological symptoms like hyperreflexia might be a sign that there is some sort of relationship between the condition and the nervous system.

Until we have more research, we just won’t know for sure what that link is. Luckily, there are still things you can do to manage hyperreflexia.

How Can You Treat it?

Obviously, how you treat hyperreflexia will depend on what’s causing the condition. If it’s a result of your medication, then it may be as simple as switching to another one.

When the condition is caused by an injury, it can often start to resolve itself within as little as three weeks. It largely depends on how severe the injury is and how much doctors can do to help repair the damage.

Treating hyperreflexia that seems to be associated with fibromyalgia is a bit more difficult. Like fibromyalgia itself, the cause of this symptom isn’t well understood. So, treating it is by identifying the source is impossible.

However, there are a number of medications that can help manage the condition. And there’s evidence that magnesium delivered intravenously can help control some of the symptoms. It’s possible that one day we may have a way to cure the condition, but right now, we simply don’t know enough about it. So, our treatment options are fairly limited.

But what do you think? Have you had hyperreflexia? Do you think it’s related to fibromyalgia? Let us know in the comments.