Is Fibromyalgia Proved To Be A Real Disease?

Within the last ten years, Fibromyalgia has been the subject of many books and medical reports, and it seems as though everyone knows someone who has it.

“Fibromyalgia” comes from the word “fibrositis”, which is a chronic disease syndrome, marked by debilitating fatigue, widespread muscular pain, and tenderness at specific points on the body. It is called Fibromyalgia Syndrome, or FMS for short. A syndrome is a group of symptoms that, together, are characteristic of a specific disorder or disease. It is a predictable, characteristic, condition or pattern of behavior that tends to occur under certain circumstances.

Sometimes people wonder if they are imagining how bad the symptoms really are, feeling terrible one day and not so bad the next. Therefore you may start to think you might have been exaggerating how bad you felt the day before. You may experience ups and downs of pain and other symptoms that accompany fibromyalgia and begin to worry that perhaps the problem isn’t that big of a deal. You may think, “Maybe if I just ignore the problem it will go away.”

The reality is, YES, FIBROMYALGIA IS REAL!

You should feel great relief that Fibromyalgia is considered a real illness, a medical syndrome that millions live with all over the world. Fibromyalgia is not “in your head”.

No doubt, Fibromyalgia is a chronic medical problem that can be a daunting challenge for anyone who has it. Being a recognized medical problem, it needs to be dealt with.

How Can I Tell That I Have FibroMyalgia?

To know whether you may have Fibromyalgia, consider patterns among people already diagnosed. You can still have Fibromyalgia, however, even if you don’t quite fit nicely into one or more of these categories but its less likely.

There are medical problems often confused with Fibromyalgia such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, arthritis, or thyroid disease. Some, of course, have more than one of these medical problems.

Only your doctor can diagnose your condition to be Fibromyalgia but there is a simple self-test you can use to determine if you may have it. A series of questions that require a “Yes” or “No” answer will follow next. If it seems that you may possibly have Fibromyalgia syndrome, make an appointment with your physician and find out for sure.

  • Do you have a lot of pain in certain specific areas of your body? If so, do the areas lack any obvious damage such as bruising or swelling? (These painful areas may be the “tender points” that are characteristic of Fibromyalgia.)
  • Is your body pain sometimes severe? (Another Fibromyalgia indicator.)
  • Do you have trouble sleeping on three or more nights per week? (The problem may or may not be connected with Fibromyalgia but nearly everyone with Fibromyalgia has sleep problems. A continuing loss of sleep may also make your pain and fatigue worse.)
  • Do you feel exhausted about half the time, or more? (Severe fatigue is a problem among nearly everyone who has Fibromyalgia. It is often linked with a lack of sleep and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome shares this symptom. Your physician will be able to help.
  • Do people often ask if you are sick? (You may be displaying pain on your face without even knowing it.)
  • Do you turn down social invitations rather than risk having to go out feeling achy and tired? (Ask yourself, “Why?”. Is it due to pain or fatigue, or could it be depression? Depression is treatable with or without Fibromyalgia.)
  • Do you find yourself wondering whether your aches and pains will ever go away or if you’ll feel like this forever? (Consult your doctor to find out if this is Fibromyalgia or another problem.)
  • Are you always losing things, or forgetting things? Do you have mental confusion that makes you wonder if you could possibly have an early onset of Alzheimer’s disease? (You may have this problem stemming from Fibromyalgia or it could be something else. If you have answered Yes to some of the earlier questions, you could have Fibromyalgia. Do consult your physician.)
  • Are you having trouble finding a pattern to your pain – some days your pain is bad and other days it’s not? (This is a sign of the chronic “ups and downs” of Fibromyalgia.)
  • Are you “down” about the pain and fatigue you are feeling? Do you wonder if depression could be the problem? (It’s possible to have both depression and Fibromyalgia. Keep in mind that, as of this date, laboratory tests cannot diagnose Fibromyalgia but tests can tell you if you have another medical problem.)

Could I Be Suffering From Another Disease?

Yes, there are other medical problems that are confused with Fibromyalgia, such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, thyroid disease, myofascial pain syndrome, Lyme disease, or other common (or not so common) illnesses.

Even physicians can get confused when they’re working on a diagnosis. One good reason is that some of the same symptoms can be part of many illnesses. For instance, one of your symptoms may be extreme tiredness, even though you haven’t been doing anything. This is a possible symptom of a thyroid problem, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lyme disease, and Fibromyalgia.

Be aware that trained physicians initially may diagnose Fibromyalgia when, in reality, it is another problem, or the very opposite could happen – sometimes a diagnosis of another medical condition is given when its actually Fibromyalgia that you are suffering from. Even harder to diagnose is the person who has Fibromyalgia but also has one of the other conditions as well.

It is also possible, though far less common, to have a medical problem called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities Syndrome, or Mononucleosis.

To be on the safe side, it is good to have a basic understanding of these other diseases that are often confused with Fibromyalgia, and then you will be better prepared when you meet with your doctor.

Since your problem could be a medical condition other than Fibromyalgia, it is always best to see a physician to get the correct diagnosis. Most doctors are becoming more adept at distinguishing between Fibromyalgia and another medical problem.

What Are The Symptoms Of Fibromyalgia?

Most people with fibromyalgia say they have several, if not all, of the following symptoms. They are specific tender points that are painful.

  1. Pain and flu-like overall body aches that change intensity (sometimes severe, other times moderate). One aspect of fibromyalgia is that the worst pain can be in your lower back one day and in your neck the next day, and maybe your upper back the following day. Frequently what happens is you suffer a combination of medical problems. You never know when or where the pain will be next.
  2. Morning muscle stiffness is common for people with fibromyalgia. Many people with fibromyalgia say that severe muscle stiffness and achiness are at their worst in the morning. Movements, when you get up in the morning or after sitting for a long period, look torturous and stiff to onlookers. The stiffness may diminish as you move about but it usually doesn’t go away completely.
  3. Extreme fatigue or constant exhaustion that occurs day after day, even when you haven’t done anything. Few people find themselves able to get a satisfactory night’s sleep. Many people suffer from bone-numbing exhaustion that goes well beyond simple tiredness. Fibromyalgia pain often serves as the cause of insomnia. It becomes a vicious cycle – lack of sleep makes you feel worse.
  4. Frequent or constant trouble sleeping.
  5. Family members diagnosed with fibromyalgia (especially a parent or a sibling).
  6. Recent physical trauma (for example a car crash or a hard fall).
  7. Mental malaise and confusion often referred to as fibro fog. Included also would be difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, and or attention difficulties.
  8. Other pain-based medical problems are listed below:
  • Irritable bowel syndrome or spastic colon.
  • Interstitial cystitis.
  • Arthritis (osteoarthritis or and rheumatoid).
  • Headaches (migraine or tension) or and Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Restless legs.
  • Chronic heartburn.
  • Paresthesia – pins and needles that primarily affect the legs, hands, or feet.
  • Tinnitus – ringing in the ears.
  • Heightened sensitivity to odors, noises, bright lights, medications, changes in the weather, and or various foods.
  • Abnormal anxiety.

What Causes Fibromyalgia (According To Science)?

While the cause of fibromyalgia remains unknown, there are intriguing theories on why a person may have developed Fibromyalgia, including a car crash or another serious injury, (such as a repetitive strain injury like carpal tunnel syndrome) infections, from a virus, bacteria, or mycoplasma, (which are a group of parasitic microorganisms that in some respects are intermediate between viruses and bacteria), auto-immune systems out of control, a traumatic event, (such as a very difficult pregnancy), any extreme life-threatening illness, hormones, or biochemicals gone awry. Fibromyalgia may have multiple causes.

Some researchers feel that the onset of fibromyalgia can come from previous physical or sexual abuse. Others believe fibromyalgia is caused by a deficit in the neurotransmitter serotonin. Still others feel it is a central-nervous-system dysfunction. Most people say that it was an event or events that triggered the beginning of their illness.

Whether it’s primarily fibromyalgia that comes over time or post-traumatic fibromyalgia from being in an automobile accident, a fall, or some other type of trauma, the link between trauma and fibromyalgia have come to be accepted. No one knows, as of now, how physical trauma or abuse triggers fibromyalgia. It is surmised that it could be that the body’s stress response is shocked. In turn the stress response rushes to help the body resist the trauma by mobilizing hormones and neurochemicals. The body is reacting to this traumatic event and then when the traumatic event is over, the reaction keeps going (which is really called over- reacting).

There are triggers that do not cause fibromyalgia, though they can cause a person’s pain to become greater and also retain pain longer than individuals without the fibromyalgia. These triggers include stress, lack of sleep, depressions, and anxiety.

Meanwhile, whatever the causes, millions of people are suffering from a real syndrome. We look forward to breakthroughs in the near future.