Understanding Fibromyalgia: Causes, Early Symptoms, and Treatments

(Photo via Freepik)
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that leads to pain. (Photo via Freepik)

Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes pain in the joints and muscles throughout the body. It can also lead to fatigue and cause mental health issues.

According to medical experts, the condition can be characterized by musculoskeletal pain with tender points (areas where an individual is likely to feel pain), including the inner knees, back of the head, shoulders and neck, outer elbows, upper hips, and upper chest.

While there is no cure for the disorder, medications and certain alternative therapies like massage and acupuncture can help manage symptoms.


What is Fibromyalgia?

It is a long-term chronic problem. (Photo via Pexels/Pixabay)
It is a long-term chronic problem. (Photo via Pexels/Pixabay)

It is a long-term chronic condition that leads to severe body aches and tenderness. People with the condition usually experience symptoms in flare-ups, which interfere with daily activities and are also quite challenging to manage.

It is important to note that almost anyone can get fibromyalgia, and the condition can affect people of any age, even children. However, it mostly starts in mid-age and is more common in women than men. The chances of developing it also increase as you age and your muscles start to become weak and fragile.


What Causes Fibromyalgia?

Medical experts don’t know what exactly causes this condition, but several studies suggest that excessive stress and certain health concerns and lifestyle habits might trigger the problem. Other factors that may increase an individual’s risk of developing the condition include:

  • a traumatic or stressful incident, such as an accident or untimely death of a closed one
  • repetitive trauma or injuries
  • autoimmune conditions like lupus
  • certain infections
A traumatic injury can trigger fibromyalgia. (Photo via Pexels/RDNE Stock project)
A traumatic injury can trigger fibromyalgia. (Photo via Pexels/RDNE Stock project)

The condition may also be hereditary as it tends to run in families, and some genetic mutations can increase your risk of experiencing it. Additionally, people with spinal arthritis or other rheumatic conditions also have a greater risk of developing this condition.


What Are Usually the First Signs of Fibromyalgia?

New pain or tenderness in any part of your body, particularly the tender areas, is the first sign of the condition. Many people also experience problems like severe headaches, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), depression, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.

These initial symptoms often begin after a physical or mental trauma, such as surgery, accident, severe infection, or psychological stress.

If you experience any new pain, which is accompanied by fatigue and weakness, you must visit a healthcare provider immediately.


What Are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?

Other common symptoms may include:

  • severe jaw and face pain
  • migraine attacks
  • bladder control problems
  • digestive issues like constipation or diarrhea
  • anxiety and depression
  • insomnia
  • memory issues like brain fog
Symptoms of fibromyalgia include face and jaw pain. (Photo via Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio)
Symptoms of fibromyalgia include face and jaw pain. (Photo via Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio)

What Are the Treatment Options?

It is imperative to note that there is no cure for fibromyalgia, but various medications, alternative therapies, lifestyle changes, as well as self-care strategies can help manage your condition. For mental health symptoms like depression and anxiety, it would be helpful to seek guidance from a therapist or support group.

Medications

Medications, particularly pain relievers, can help ease pain and tenderness in your muscles and joints. These can manage your painful symptoms and also help you undertake every day activities by providing you great relief.

Medications may include painkillers, antidepressants, and antiseizure drugs. Your healthcare provider will prescribe the best medications after analyzing your symptoms and the severity of your condition.


Alternative and natural remedies

Certain alternative and natural remedies may also help manage your symptoms and provide relief. These include:

  • chiropractic sessions
  • acupuncture
  • regular exercise
  • psychotherapy like cognitive behavioral therapy
  • regular full-body massages
  • physical therapy
  • stress reduction techniques
Acupuncture can help ease pain. (Photo via Pexels/Ryutaro Tsukata)
Acupuncture can help ease pain. (Photo via Pexels/Ryutaro Tsukata)

How Can You Prevent Fibromyalgia?

While medications and other remedies can provide you relief, taking certain preventive measures will keep the problem away in the first place.

These may include maintaining your overall health by consuming a nutritious diet, managing your stress levels and following a regular exercise plan that’s suitable for your fitness level and ongoing health condition. Getting adequate sleep may help, too.

Edited by Susrita Das