Fibromyalgia: What You Need To Know
What You Need To Know About Fibromyalgia
Before you can get pain relief for fibromyalgia you have to understand basic facts about the condition. In simple terms, this is a medical disorder which leads to musculoskeletal pain and discomfort. When the condition is left untreated it gets worse and the pain is accompanied by memory loss, mood swings, difficulty sleeping and fatigue. According to scientific studies, fibromyalgia magnifies the way your brain processes pain signals, which is why you become more vulnerable to pain.
What are the Causes and Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
Women are more prone to fibromyalgia compared to men. However, medical experts are still not sure what triggers it, but the most likely possibility is there is more than just one cause and several factors contribute to bring it about. Among the most likely culprits are the following:
· Genes: there is a strong possibility the disorder is genetic in nature, so if a family member has fibromyalgia there’s a possibility you could develop it too. The exact cause for this has not been determined but it’s possibly due to a genetic mutation that renders you vulnerable to this condition.
· Infections: some fibromyalgia cases seem to be triggered or made worse by infections, so these should not be discounted either.
· Emotional and physical trauma: as has been mentioned earlier, emotional and physical trauma has been associated with this condition.
Regardless of the symptoms, the end result is the same, and that is your susceptibility to pain increases. The effect that fibromyalgia has on people can be complex, but it seems their brains undergo change due to the incessant nerve stimulation. If you suffer from this disorder, there is going to be a spike of chemicals in your brain that relay pain (neurotransmitters).
Furthermore, the brain’s pain receptors seem to “remember” the pain you felt, making you more sensitive to pain and discomfort. The level of pain felt varies however, with some feeling more than others.
Scientists and medical researchers now use the term Central Sensitization Hypothesis to explain the cause of fibromyalgia. According to this theory, the neurons in the spinal cord and brain become increasingly sensitive to pain. While this is in an abnormality, the cause is still to be determined but could be genetic.
Whatever the cause may be, the end result is the same: there is heightened sensitivity to pain. The Central Sensitization Hypothesis also includes stress, and this definition shows how closely linked fibromyalgia and anxiety disorders are.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
The symptoms of fibromyalgia may manifest following psychological stress, infection, surgery or a traumatic event. In some instances the symptoms accumulate slowly over time and do not have one specific trigger. Those who are afflicted with this condition also suffer from other disorders such as depression, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines and TMJ among others.
· Chronic pain: The most common symptom is widespread chronic pain, and the sensation is akin to a consistent dull ache that endures for several weeks or months. The term widespread is only used when the pain is felt on both sides of your body and the sensation is felt below and above your waist.
· Fatigue: This is another symptom that’s often reported, and that is not surprising given the fact that pain can make people feel weak. If you suffer from this disorder you probably feel tired after waking up even after sleeping for a long time.
· Not getting enough sleep: because you are in constant pain, you probably won’t get sufficient sleep as the pain is sharp enough to keep you awake. Not surprisingly the lack of sleep leads to various related disorders like sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome. Fibromyalgia is difficult enough to treat on its own but when these other disorders manifest it gets worse and treatment becomes more complicated.
· Cognitive issues: aside from the pain, fibromyalgia also leads to fibro fog, which affects your ability to think, pay attention and focus. Needless to say this has a significant effect on your ability to do your regular tasks and chores. As your ability to concentrate gets affected, you become frustrated and this leads to stress and anxiety.
Other fibromyalgia symptoms include:
· Chronic headaches not experienced before
· Myofascial pain
· Menstrual difficulties
· Cold symptoms
· Chest pain
· Unexplained weight gain
· Vision problems
· Urinary problems
· Muscle twitches
These are the most common symptoms of fibromyalgia, but other problems could arise depending on your lifestyle. Some people for instance, notice an increase in the frequency of their migraines and stomach cramp, in particular the lower abdomen.
Temporary Relief from Fibromyalgia Pain Medication
Before fibromyalgia treatment can be provided, a diagnosis needs to be performed to make certain you are indeed suffering from fibromyalgia. You will then be prescribed any of the following medications depending on the severity of your condition.
In the past, medical practitioners would look for 18 particular points to determine how many of them feel pain when pressure is applied on them. However that is no longer the case as more effective methods have been developed. Essentially the newer methods involve checking the duration of your body pain, and if it exceeds three months, then you have fibromyalgia.
Pain medications or pain relievers include naproxen sodium, acetaminophen and ibuprofen among others. Depending on your condition your doctor might prescribe tramadol and more powerful medications. Note: do not self prescribe and don’t resort to narcotics because your condition will get worse.
If you’re feeling the effects of fatigue your doctor might prescribe milnacipran or duloxetine to minimize the discomfort. If fibromyalgia is affecting your sleep pattern, you may be prescribed fluoxetine or amitriptyline to help you sleep better.
Some anti-seizure drugs have proven to be effective in reducing various types of body pain, including those brought about fibromyalgia. One drug that might be able to help is pregabalin and a few others, but it really depends on the severity of your fibromyalgia, which is why self medication is not advised.
Your doctor may also ask you to undergo a blood test just rule out the possibility of other ailments causing your pain. The blood test may consist of a complete blood count, thyroid function exam and a check of your erythrocyte sedimentation rate.
Aside from the medications mentioned above, relaxation exercise and stress reduction might be able to help. However, these are only temporary and the symptoms will manifest again. A far more effective method is neurofeedback.
Fibromyalgia Pain: Neurofeedback Can Help You Find Long-Term Pain Relief
Neurofeedback therapy is biofeedback for your brain. This practice may seem new but has actually been around for nearly 40 years with more scientific studies confirming it’s validity. Neurofeedback involves tuning your brain: the process makes use of electrical equipment to fine tune your brain and allows you to control bodily functions that would otherwise be automatic (i.e. muscle tension, heart rate and blood pressure among others).
Neurofeedback is all about improving the functions of your brain as well as the way it connects to the other functions in your body. This includes the link to your body’s pain transmitters, and when applied to fibromyalgia treatment and pain relief, it leads to significant reduction of pain and discomfort.
The scientific evidence in favor of neurofeedback therapy is extensive and has been peer reviewed as well. To cite just one study, the journal Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback published an article whereby researchers concluded that neurofeedback helps reduce fibromyalgia syndrome symptoms by a significant margin.
The Link Between Fibromyalgia and Your Brain
Pain receptors in your brain are the ones responsible for your feeling of pain. The pain we feel is due to your brain sending signals. As medical experts have pointed out, those with fibromyalgia have an enhanced sensitivity to pain. What neurofeedback does is go directly into the brain section that is responsible for this and try to rectify it.
With proper training, your brain is able to handle pain much better, and training also leads to healthier, stronger brain patterns while bypassing the receptors that cause increased pain. To use an analogy, the pain you feel is like an alarm bell that is triggered by your brain, but with neurofeedback this is reduced. To put it in simple terms, neurofeedback instructs your brain to function normally, effectively getting rid of fibromyalgia.
Neurofeedback is not magic and does not work overnight, but continuous training will provide several benefits such as the following.
· Minimize pain: this is the biggest benefit that you’ll derive, as it’s going to make it easier for your body to relax.
· Gain additional energy: as was pointed out earlier, fatigue is one of the biggest problems that arises from fibromyalgia, and the lack of energy is going to affect your daily routines. With neurofeedback your body receives an additional influx of energy so you can do more.
· Longer and most restful sleep: sleep deprivation poses all kinds of problems and leads to irritation, loss of concentration and general weakness. What neurofeedback does is produce new brain patterns that help induce longer and better sleep. The process by which this happens should not be a surprise since your inability to sleep is due to the bodily pain you feel, so when it is reduced you will be able to sleep comfortably.
Neurofeedback therapy has become popular in its ability to treat a wide range of illnesses and ailments. As was indicated earlier, fibromyalgia produces a number of other unhealthy side effects, but since most of them are related to your brain’s function fine tuning of your brain patterns will fix the problem.
Those who suffer from fibromyalgia are often on the edge and understandably feel uncomfortable and stressed. By applying the right level of brain pattern training you’ll notice an increase in your sense of calmness and well-being. Case studies also show that even those who have been dealing with fibromyalgia for years should be able to find relief.
And the number of sessions required to get treatment isn’t that much either as even long time sufferers can and do get relief after half a dozen sessions. It might take longer depending on your situation, but as testimonials will point out, relief can be attained much more quickly and effectively compared to others treatments.
Neurofeedback therapy can be applied to a wide range of ailments, but in the case of fibromyalgia, the secret lies in the way it’s able to rectify and correct your brain pattern. Once the right pattern has been established, pain dysregulation is reduced and you’ll be better able to cope with symptoms and signs.
Before the advent of neurofeedback, fibromyalgia was usually treated via cognitive behavioral therapy and the medications mentioned above. It is true that SSRIs and some anticonvulsants can provide relief for depression and a bit of pain relief. However, these medications only treat the symptoms and not the underlying cause; without treating the actual cause the symptoms will manifest once again and you’ll suffer the symptoms again and again.
What neurofeedback does is modify the approach so the underpinning cause of fibromyalgia can be addressed fully. Another thing that should be pointed out is neurofeedback does not cause any side effects. One of the reasons why some people don’t like to take medications is they’re wary of the side effects, but with neurofeedback that won’t be a problem.
While drugs interfere with your body’s chemical process, neurofeedback does not as it’s all about correcting your brainwave activity. A “mind map” is taken of your brain patterns and is subsequently corrected and analyzed so the problems are corrected. These sessions don’t just reduce the intensity of the pain receptors as it also improves your general well-being.
Fibromyalgia Symptoms in Women
Fibromyalgia symptoms in women can be debilitating and affect the way you live. However you don’t have to let it get to you because there are ways of dealing with pain caused by Fibromyalgia. As has been pointed out above, neurofeedback has been proven to work, with plenty of scientific and medical evidence to back it up. If you’re tired of the temporary relief from the pain relief medication you’re taking and want long term relief, neurofeedback may very well be your best option.
To speak with our Fibromyalgia pain relief doctors, give us a call at (801) 649-4445 or fill out the form to schedule an appointment today!