Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain: Causes and Treatment Methods
The number of cases of fibromyalgia and the chronic pain that accompanies it is on the rise. Each case is unique, as patients don’t always present the same symptoms. For many, it can be debilitating and have a permanent effect on their quality of life.
Diagnosis is not always straightforward and may only be confirmed after a process of eliminating other conditions that could explain the symptoms. In some cases, it can take months, if not years, to get a diagnosis. During that time, patients live with crippling pain that can have life-altering effects.
What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?
Someone with this condition may experience some or all the following symptoms:
● Widespread pain across the body that is almost always present
● Aches similar to those you would have if you had the flue
● Extreme fatigue and problems sleeping
● Severe stiffness in the morning
● Difficulties in concentration and remembering
● Loss of the ability to do everyday tasks you took for granted in the past
As you can see, the list of symptoms can describe any number of conditions, so
narrowing it down to fibromyalgia can take some time. However, increased awareness
of the condition has allowed many patients to get an earlier diagnosis.
What causes fibromyalgia?
The causes of fibromyalgia are not entirely clear and continue to be the subject of
research. This is one of the reasons that a lot of people cast aspersions on the
condition, accusing people who live with it of making it up. Another reason is that it is an
invisible condition, which makes it hard for some people to accept it as a reality.
However, there are some factors that are thought to play a role in people developing
fibromyalgia and the chronic pain that accompanies it.
● There is a genetic factor in this condition as it is more likely to strike someone
who has a family history of fibromyalgia.
● Other conditions, such as infections and some types of arthritis, can contribute
to the onset of fibromyalgia.
● Physical, emotional, or psychological trauma can also play a role in whether
someone contracts fibromyalgia.
● Experts suspect that a lack of movement or exercise, combined with some of
the other factors can lead to fibromyalgia.
There is much debate around the link between depression and fibromyalgia. Some
experts argue that depression leads to fibromyalgia, while the colleagues argue the
converse. However, it is pretty common for the two conditions to go hand-in-hand.
There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but there are treatments that can help to alleviate the symptoms. They include:
As painful as it may be at times, exercise is vital for people with fibromyalgia. It’s
essential to start small and build up to a more demanding exercise program that is
challenging yet realistic. Increased flexibility can reduce the levels of pain experienced by the patient, and many will turn to physical therapists to help them design the ideal exercise program.
Exercise is not only good for one’s physical wellbeing as it also has advantages for
one’s mental and emotional health. Being active stimulates the release of the
neuroreceptor serotonin, which is known as the ‘feel-good hormone’, which makes you feel happier and more contented.
Sleep is as important as exercise for someone living with fibromyalgia. A lack of sleep only exacerbates the symptoms, leaving the patient feeling even worse. It’s essential to practice good sleeping habits, including maintaining a regular sleep pattern and creating an environment conducive to sleep.
To continue living their everyday lives, many patients need to take painkillers, but they are reluctant to use pharmaceutical options as they can become addictive. To this end, more are looking toward alternative pain management methods.
Among them is CBD oil, believed to have analgesic properties because of its interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates many processes in the body, including pain response. Cannabidiol (CBD) comes from the hemp plant. Unlike its distant cousin, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD has no psychoactive properties and is not regarded as habit-forming. Current research aims to establish more clearly how CBD can help chronic pain sufferers alleviate their discomfort.
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