Fibromyalgia is becoming one of the most common conditions in modern society. Experts believe that the increase of Fibromyalgia sufferers have grown significantly over the 20th and the 21st century. Why? Some believe that Fibromyalgia is the new symptom of stress.
Some experts claim that long-term stress is a major factor in causing Fibromyalgia. They say that in the third-world countries there are only small if any occurrences of Fibromyalgia. This, they say, could be because they are not constantly exposed to demanding jobs and lifestyles that start to put a strain of the mind and body.
So, what is Fibromyalgia?
FibroMyalgia Syndrome or FMS, is a medical condition that causes a range of symptoms. These symptoms can start as minor or severe muscular pain and headaches, and progress to chronic pain, sleeping problems, joint pain, numbness and tingling in the arms and legs. It can also cause of range of gastro problems like irritable bowel syndrome and bladder complaints. Some will complain of memory and concentration problems, in fact “70% of people with FMS report cognitive difficulties”, claims Kim Jones, PhD. They also experience sensitivity to cold, swelling sensation in the hands without the appearance of swelling. Psychological symptoms can also occur, especially depression and anxiety.
It is important to realise that Fibromyalgia is not consistent. So day the pain can be severe, and the next day only mild.
The pain can occur in any parts of your body where muscles are present. So even though pain might be present in your hips, thighs, knees, legs, buttocks, neck, elbows, wrists, arms, shoulders, chest, feet and ankles. Pain can also occur internally causing stomach cramps and other problems with the bowel.
Chet Cunningham is the author of The Fibromyalgia Relief Handbook.
He gives a detailed account on what FMS is, the causes, the symptoms, the treatments and how you can manage it from work with travel and daily activities.
The book also includes the vitamins and minerals to have in your diet. And how to improve FMS from your lifestyle.
The pain can range from “burning, gnawing, radiating, shooting, or just a dull ache. These pains can be severe or mild, but they are felt deep inside the muscle, ligament and tendons,” says Chet Cunningham, author of The Fibromyalgia Relief Handbook.
There are countless symptoms of Fibromyalgia, and a sufferer of FMS can experience a range of these symptoms any given time.
How do I know if I have FMS?
It is sometimes hard to tell whether you might have Fibromyalgia, as most symptoms of FMS can occur in other conditions. And doctors are reluctant to diagnose this condition as there is no cure, and little understanding to the cause of it.
There is a common diagnose that doctors or occupational therapist will carry out in order to determine if you have FMS. There are 18 trigger points that they will press with moderate pressure. If 11 or more are uncomfortable or painful and is accompanied by the variety of symptoms, then the diagnoses is usually FMS.
“75% of sufferers of FMS are women … between the ages of twenty to sixty.”
The majority of the cases of FMS occur in women. Some children or elderly can develop, but that could be because an underlying condition has put stress on the body.
Although men have been known to get FMS, it is more common in women.
What is the cause of FMS?
The two main causes of FMS are stress and traumatic experiences. Although Kim Jones claims that “there are thought to be 20 or so genes involved in the expression of FMS. If you have a lot of these genes, it will take very little environmental insult … to get FMS going.” As mentioned before, there is strong support that FMS is a psychosocial disorder. It is believed that stress alter hormones and chemicals in the brain. Long-term stress is thought to “interrupt the natural physiological process of energy productions”.
Serotonin, a chemical that is present in the brain can be depleted by stress.
Experts theorise that a traumatic experience can trigger attacks, that otherwise might have remained dormant. In saying that, it is debated whether trauma can actually cause FMS, or is just a trigger.
Both stress and trauma can also have an effect on the nerves in the body. As stress can interrupt the natural process in the brain, and the brain is the direct link to the nerves, this could be the reason to the pain Fibromyalgia causes.
The sensory nerves in our body transmits pain signals to the brain. If these nerves become over sensitised, the pain perceived can actually be worse that it would be for people that do not suffer from Fibromyalgia.
Both trauma and stress can sensitise these delicate nerves. In saying this Wayne Love the Managing Director from lovely health Ltd says “its widely assumed to be connected with immune systems problems … Causes from high-stress lifestyle, a weakened immune system and emotional or physical trauma.”
Now you know what FMS is, what can be done about it?
Firstly, try to avoid triggering this condition by reducing your exposure to stress.
Although it is next to impossible to not go through any type of stress, you can reduce your exposure by allowing yourself to chill out.
You know the old saying “count to ten”. Well, do that. Anytime someone or something is getting you wound up, count to ten.
Get a massage, do yoga or other types of exercise. Even take a natural supplement like St John’s Wort, or Vitamin B Plus, to help you feel more relaxed and deal with things better.
I have FMS, so how do I manage the condition?
Even though FMS has no cure, it does not mean it has to prevent you from doing things you want to do.
Here are some tips to help FMS sufferers manage their symptoms:
It is all about managing your symptoms and time to get the best out of life. It can be a good idea to make a plan, detailing how you can deal with the bad days. This plan can include telling someone you are having a difficult day, ask for help, find distractions and think about relaxation techniques.
Don’t get discouraged when you are having a bad day, but put your plan into action.
As a FMS sufferer, I find one of the best ways to get things done, is to start at a reasonable time in the morning, and have constant breaks throughout the entire day. These breaks only need to be five minutes. Figure out the best time of day for you, and get things done then. But don’t overdo things as you will pay for it the next day.
Pain can prevent you from doing just the simple things. In order to enable you to be more productive, find methods that can help ease that pain. Heat is an important ally to have. Heat from saunas, spas, showers, baths, and heat pads will help ease the tight muscle, therefore easing the pain.
Many symptoms of FMS can cause discouragement, and even though there is medication out there to treat FMS it will never go away. Talk to your doctor about medications that can help with the pain, mood conditions and inability to sleep. A combination of natural and drugs can be an alternative.
Talk to your family and friends and explain what you are going through, so when you need
The best way to explain to someone how you feel is “When you work yourself really hard, so that you feel totally exhausted, and you ache all over that you cannot get up.”
Re-examine your lifestyle. Eating the right foods and doing regular exercise will help ease the pain, lift your mood, improve sleeping patterns and release endorphins, which help with your overall well-being and feeling good. Exercise will warm up your muscles, easing the stiffness associated with pain.
Take a supplement. Although your doctor can prescribe medications, supplements can also help. Vitamin B is good for lifting your mood, encouraging motivations and reducing stress and anxiety. Glucosamine is a mineral that strengthens the bones, and provides relief for the pain. “Include fish oil, magnesium/malic acid” into your diet as well.
Have regular pamper-me sessions. Allow time to go for a massage, facial or other beauty treatment can do wonders. But you don’t even have to leave your house to get the benefits. Aromatherapy blends can help with stress, muscular pain, depression, anxiety, insominia, all your complaints associated with FMS. A great blend to make up is with grapeseed oil or sweet almond oil. Mix a couple of drops of Frankinsense, Black pepper and Bergamot. This can be massaged into your sore muscles, inhaled before you go to bed, inhale when you are feeling anxious or depressed, or put into a bath or sauna. This blend will treat almost all of your symptoms.
It could also be wise to look into working from home. This will enable you to take breaks whenever you want, an incorporate exercise into those breaks. Obviously some jobs do not offer this alternative, but it is a option to have for the future.
Always have the option to have someone to talk to who understands and is willing to help out when need be. There are clinics specifically for FMS sufferers, who you could get in contact with through your doctor. They will offer support and advice on how best to manage FMS, and encourage you so you will never have to do it alone.