You’ve heard that fibromyalgia has no known cause or that it only affects women. You’ve been inundated with infomercials that it can’t be treated and, if it can be, you’re going to spend thousands of dollars on medicine and therapy that doesn’t work. Worst of all, you’ve been told the pain is forever. So, what’s fact and what’s fiction? Read further to learn more.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is known as “a condition that causes pain all over the body (also referred to as widespread pain), sleep problems, fatigue, and often emotional and mental distress. People with fibromyalgia may be more sensitive to pain than people without fibromyalgia. This is called abnormal pain perception processing. Fibromyalgia affects about 4 million US adults, about 2% of the adult population. The cause of fibromyalgia is not known, but it can be effectively treated and managed.”
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
Changes in certain brain chemicals and how pain receptors work may be causes for fibromyalgia, but there are other potential triggers:
- Genetics. Fibromyalgia is known to run in families, implying that specific genetic mutations could make you more likely to get the disorder.
- Infections and certain illnesses seem to trigger or make fibromyalgia worse.
- Fibromyalgia can, in some cases, be precipitated by a physical event like a car crash. Even continual psychological stress can trigger the condition.
Know the Symptoms
- Chronic discomfort throughout your body or in multiple locations. Pain is often described as aching, burning, or pulsating.
- Fatigue or extreme tiredness.
- You could have problems sleeping.
- You may experience joint and muscle stiffness.
- Sensitivity to touch.
- Numbness or tingling sensations.
- Problems with focusing, thinking, and memory.
- You have an abnormally high sensitivity to stimuli, including light, noise, smells, and temperature.
- Digestive problems like constipation.
If you have any symptoms related to fibromyalgia, ask your healthcare provider about treatment options like ketamine therapy.
Fibromyalgia: Myths vs. Facts
Like any medical condition, facts and myths swirl around fibromyalgia and sometimes make it hard to know what’s what. Here is some information to consider.
- It’s not real. Wrong. Fibromyalgia is a genuine, long-term condition.
- To get diagnosed, you need to see a specialist in treating fibromyalgia and its symptoms. This is not true. A primary healthcare provider can diagnose the condition using your medical history, results of a physical exam, and evaluating your symptoms.
- If you don’t have what’s referred to as “tender points,” then you can’t possibly have fibromyalgia. Again, not true.
- We know exactly what causes fibromyalgia. This is not true because, like other health conditions, it could have many causes.
- I have fibromyalgia, but it can’t be treated. This is false. Your medical professional can not only diagnose your condition but recommend treatment and medicine that might relieve the pain, including ketamine therapy.
- Ok, if I have fibromyalgia, that must mean I can only be treated with costly prescription medications. This, too, is false. While it’s true that particular medicine and kinds of treatment are expensive (and some people may be opposed to using medicine), there are other worthy options to consider. You may be able to treat fibromyalgia pain with sleep, exercise, and stress relief.
- There aren’t reliable symptoms for me to describe. Not true. Many symptoms could be indicative of fibromyalgia, including anxiety and depression, pain in the face and jaw, and severe headaches.
- Fibromyalgia is classified as a pain disease by the International Association for the Study of Pain and appears in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fibromyalgia affects about four million U.S. adults or around two percent of the general population.
- According to the American College of Rheumatology, “Fibromyalgia is not an autoimmune or inflammation-based illness, but research suggests the nervous system is involved.”
Diagnosis & Treatment
The main factor for diagnosing fibromyalgia is whether the pain exists throughout your body, including your shoulder, arm, jaw, hip, buttock, leg, neck, chest, back, or abdomen. There isn’t any single test used for diagnosis, but rather a combination, like a complete blood count, checking your rheumatoid factor, seeing if there are thyroid problems, checking your vitamin D levels, and others.
As already discussed, there are many potential ways to relieve fibromyalgia pain. Your healthcare provider may recommend medicine, self-help and lifestyle changes, different kinds of therapy, or using ketamine infusion. It’s essential to get the facts before making any decision and understand the risks and benefits of whatever you choose.