Is fibromyalgia real or mental?
Having a piece of physical evidence in the form of an endometrial lesion, my wife can easily prove the existence of her stage IV deep infiltrating endometriosis, but when it comes to fibromyalgia, it seems impossible to prove it. So, is fibromyalgia a real condition or is it imaginary?
The answer is a definitive yes!
Fibromyalgia is a real medical disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and tenderness in the muscles, tendons, joints, and other soft tissues. In addition, fibromyalgia is associated with mood disturbances, sleep disturbances, cognitive impairment, and other symptoms.
- Fibromyalgia basics.
- Fibromyalgia in more detail.
- Different types of fibromyalgia pain.
- Conclusion on fibromyalgia pain…
- Connection with other chronic pain conditions.
- Nerve conduction studies.
- A final word.
In order to understand in detail everything to know about fibromyalgia, you need to understand the basics.
To help you with that, I split this section of the article into the fibromyalgia basics, and later on, I’ll give you more details in order to connect all the fibromyalgia dots.
Let’s begin with the following questions:
- What is fibromyalgia?
- What are fibromyalgia’s early signs?
- What are fibromyalgia symptoms?
- How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?
- How is fibromyalgia treated?
Discussing the answers to all of the above questions, there will be symptoms and treatments that are worth exploring in more detail.
Let’s start with the basics…
1) What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic musculoskeletal condition characterized by widespread pain, fatigue, and tenderness in the muscles and soft tissues.
Fibro (short for fibromyalgia commonly used in the fibromyalgia community) is often accompanied by other symptoms such as mood disturbances, sleep disturbances, and cognitive impairment that I am going to mention later in more detail.
What you need to know about fibromyalgia is that it’s real and is often misunderstood. Despite the fact that fibromyalgia is a complex disorder, it is not imaginary or “all in your head”.
Fibromyalgia, as related to it CFS, is a real medical disorder and is recognized by the World Health Organization, the American College of Rheumatology, and other health organizations.
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- The new you.
- The new her.
- The new reality.
- Introduction to fibromyalgia.
- What is fibromyalgia?
- The early days.
- When you first realize something is wrong.
- Spotting the signs that something is wrong.
- Coming to terms with a chronic illness.
- The role of partner in fibromyalgia.
- The process of getting diagnosed.
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Fibromyalgia for Caring Men
2) What are fibromyalgia’s early signs?
What first comes to mind is chronic widespread pain, however, the early signs of fibromyalgia may include a feeling of tiredness or exhaustion after only mild activity and difficulty sleeping despite feeling tired.
Early signs can also include body aches, headaches, stiffness in the morning, irritability, depression, anxiety, and trouble concentrating.
It is difficult to recognize if you experience fibromyalgia symptoms in the early stages because there is no single diagnostic test. If you have any of the above signs, it is important to see a doctor so they can rule out other possible causes.
Bare in mind though, that most general practitioners may not have a clue about fibromyalgia and hence they may misdiagnose it as anxiety and depression.
Doctors often suggest that widespread pain is caused by emotional distress or stress. They may not identify fibromyalgia as the cause of these symptoms. They show a total lack of knowledge, and in some cases (including my wife’s) this is considered medical gaslighting.
3) What are fibromyalgia symptoms?
Fibromyalgia symptoms can vary from person to person. What my wife goes through will not necessarily be the same as what you are going through. The most common fibromyalgia symptoms include chronic widespread pain which is musculoskeletal.
However, in addition to muscle pain, there is also fatigue, tenderness in the muscles and soft tissues, and other symptoms that may include:
- headaches or migraines
- numbness and tingling in the hands or feet
- trouble sleeping
- morning stiffness
- memory problems and brain fog
- mood swings, dizziness
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
4) How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?
Again, this is tough. It isn’t easy to diagnose fibromyalgia because there is no test for it.
Fibromyalgia is commonly diagnosed based on a person’s medical history and exclusion of other conditions that give similar symptoms. In order to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia you will have to give a complete history, do blood work, and more.
During the physical examination, the rheumatologist (one of the fibromyalgia pain specialists) should detect fibro based on tender points evaluations in specific areas of the body (such as neck and shoulder muscles), blood tests, and imaging studies to rule out other conditions that could be causing chronic pain.
There is a total of 18 tender points (nine pairs), and they include:
- Upper back
To be diagnosed with fibromyalgia you will need to experience chronic pain for at least three months.
5) How is fibromyalgia treated?
Treatment for fibromyalgia is focused on relieving pain and improving function. To have an effective treatment, a combination of medications (such as antidepressants, pain relievers, and muscle relaxants), but also physical therapy, exercise, tai chi, lifestyle changes, and stress management techniques is required.
In some cases, apart from physical therapy, alternative therapies (a holistic approach) such as home remedies, acupuncture, and massage may also be recommended to relieve pain. In my opinion, such a holistic approach should accompany the conventional, medical fibromyalgia treatment for fibromyalgia patients.
One of the home remedies I use whenever my wife begins to experience joint and muscle pain, I rub in her body CBD balm, which always lowers the level of her chronic pain. It may not reduce inflammation directly, but it helps reduce stress and anxiety, and that alone helps to reduce inflammation.
Reducing stress for people with fibromyalgia helps the musculoskeletal system relax, and many patients find that things such as aerobic exercise are more effective treatments than any medication.
Medications have side effects such as sleep problems, and their effects don’t last. The constant pain doesn’t respond well to medications but a holistic approach is much better. Medications just mask the problem.
Fibromyalgia in more detail.
Fibromyalgia isn’t an imaginary or mental disorder. It is a chronic medical condition that requires proper diagnosis and treatment to help reduce the symptoms associated with this condition.
While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, understanding the basics of the condition can help many individuals better manage their symptoms so they can live more comfortably with this condition.
I wanted to touch upon some phrases, words, and names that can sound alien to some of you, even though they aren’t uncommon in the fibro community. These are:
- central nervous system
- rheumatoid arthritis
- pain signals
- mental disorder
What is myalgia?
Myalgia is another physical symptom associated with fibromyalgia and is commonly referred to as muscle pain. Myalgia is usually felt as a deep ache or burning sensation in the affected muscle or joint. It is often worse after activity and is not relieved with rest.
In addition, myalgia is usually quite widespread and is often accompanied by other fibromyalgia symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, tenderness in the muscles, and headaches.
What is fibro-fog?
Fibro-fog is a cognitive symptom associated with fibromyalgia and is caused by disrupted sleep patterns. It is characterized by an inability to focus, difficulty remembering things, confusion, difficulty in making decisions, and feeling mentally drained. Sleep problems are also a side effect of the latter.
Fibro-fog can occur when the body is exhausted from lack of sleep or is overstimulated by stress. It is important to note that fibro-fog is often not relieved by rest or sleeping, but is instead alleviated by stress management techniques and lifestyle changes.
What is IBS?
IBS is another condition commonly associated with fibromyalgia and is caused by a disruption of the central nervous system. It is characterized by changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain, bloating, and gas.
IBS is short for irritable bowel syndrome and is a disorder of the muscles in the intestine which can cause various digestive problems. It is also important to note that fibromyalgia is associated with other pain conditions such as endometriosis, and is linked to an increase in painful signals being sent from the brain to the body.
What is the central nervous system?
The central nervous system is responsible for controlling and coordinating the body’s activities. It is made up of neurons (nerve cells) that connect to each other throughout the body and is responsible for sending electrical signals to the muscles, organs, and glands of the body.
The central nervous system is also responsible for sending signals of pain from the body to the brain, and is important for controlling how we think, feel, and act. It is important to note that fibromyalgia is thought to be caused by an over-stimulation of the central nervous system.
What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that is characterized by the inflammation of the joints. This is associated with pain, swelling, and stiffness in the affected area. It is important to note that fibromyalgia is often misdiagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis, and is often treated similarly.
This autoimmune disorder also has different symptoms including fatigue, fever, anemia, weight loss, and muscle weakness.
What are pain signals?
These are signals that are sent from the body to the brain in response to pain. The signal is detected by nerve endings, which then send an electrical signal to the brain. The brain then processes these signals and is responsible for interpreting pain.
These signals are important because they tell us when something is wrong and is an important way for our body to be able to protect itself. Without experiencing pain, we would be more likely to injure ourselves without even knowing it.
What are mental disorders?
There are many mental disorders and illnesses, such as depression and anxiety. Mental disorders are usually caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, environmental factors, or a combination of both.
Mental disorders can affect how we think, feel and act, and are often treated with medication, therapy, or lifestyle changes. It is important to note that fibromyalgia is not a mental disorder, but is instead caused by physical factors.
Mental health is an important part of overall health and is important to take into account when seeking treatment for fibromyalgia.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s response to injury or infection. It is caused by an immune system response and is usually characterized by swelling, pain, heat, redness, and loss of function in the affected area.
Inflammation is an important process for healing injuries and is also associated with many chronic diseases, including fibromyalgia. It is thought that low-grade inflammation is a contributing factor to the development of fibromyalgia.
Different types of fibromyalgia pain.
There are different types of fibromyalgia pain, including:
- Floating pain
- Widespread muscle pain and fatigue
- Temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ)
- Neuropathic pain (nerve pain)
- Headaches and migraines
- Abdominal and pelvic pain
Floating pain is a type of fibromyalgia pain that is described as an overall feeling of discomfort that is often difficult to localize. This is a common symptom of fibromyalgia and is often accompanied by other symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, and mood changes.
Hyperalgesia is an increased sensitivity to pain that is prevalent in fibromyalgia patients. This is usually associated with an exaggerated response to even mild stimuli, including touch or temperature changes.
Widespread muscle pain.
Widespread muscle pain is a common symptom of fibromyalgia that is characterized by aching and stiffness throughout the body. This type of pain is often felt all over the torso, neck, arms, and legs, making it difficult to move freely or do activities that require physical exertion.
Temporomandibular joint pain.
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain is characterized by pain in the jaw joint which is located in front of the ear. This is often accompanied by headaches, facial pain, and tenderness in the jaw area.
Allodynia is a type of pain sensation that is attributed to fibromyalgia and is experienced when normally non-painful stimuli are perceived as painful. Examples of this include brushing your hair or taking a shower.
Neuropathic pain is an intense burning or stabbing sensation that is usually felt in the hands and feet. This is caused by nerve damage due to inflammation and can be very debilitating for those with fibromyalgia.
Headaches and migraines.
Headaches and migraines are common among those who suffer from fibromyalgia, and these can range from mild to severe depending on the individual’s condition. Common symptoms associated with fibromyalgia headaches include sensitivity to light, pressure in the head and neck, and throbbing pain.
Abdominal and pelvic pain.
Abdominal and pelvic pain is also common among those with fibromyalgia and is characterized by cramping, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or general discomfort in the abdominal area. This is often accompanied by pelvic pain which is usually described as a burning or stabbing sensation.
Conclusion on fibromyalgia pain…
Muscle pain is the most common symptom of fibromyalgia and is usually experienced as a deep ache in the muscles that can last for hours or even days at a time. Joint pain is often described as an intense burning sensation that is felt in specific areas such as the elbows or shoulders. It is also common to experience other pain such as headaches, allodynia, and neuropathic pain.
In order to best manage fibromyalgia pain, it’s very important for others to learn that fibromyalgia is real and is not just in one’s mind.
Connection with other chronic pain conditions.
Fibromyalgia is associated with other chronic pain conditions such as myofascial pain syndrome, IBS, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and often even endometriosis.
- Myofascial pain is caused by trigger points in the muscles that are very painful when pressed and is often associated with headaches, neck pain, and lower back pain.
- IBS is characterized by cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, and altered bowel movements.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is associated with extreme fatigue as well as cognitive difficulties, joint pain, and sleep disturbances and is often accompanied by depression.
- Endometriosis is a condition in which a tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus is found outside of its normal location which can cause intense pelvic pain, painful periods, and infertility.
While fibromyalgia is a condition that is associated with other chronic pain conditions, it is important to seek medical attention in order to accurately diagnose and treat the condition. With the right diagnosis and treatment plan, those living with fibromyalgia can experience relief from their pain and other kinds of symptoms.
Nerve conduction studies.
These nerve conduction studies might be used to diagnose the condition and are usually done by an experienced neurologist. This is a procedure where small electrodes are placed on the skin to measure the electrical activity in the nerves and muscles.
The diagnostic criteria in these studies are based on the patient’s history, physical examination, and lab tests. This is done to ensure that the diagnosis is accurate and is not due to any other condition.
A final word.
In conclusion, fibromyalgia does exist and is a condition that can affect people of all ages and is characterized by chronic widespread pain, headaches, sleep disturbances, sometimes sleep disorders, and fatigue.
It’s important to seek medical attention if you or someone is experiencing these symptoms in order to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
This is a condition that is often misunderstood but is real, and those suffering from it should seek help and support in order to manage their symptoms.
It is important that those living with fibromyalgia should not be dismissed as having an imaginary illness, as is often the case. With the right diagnosis and treatment plan, those living with fibromyalgia can have a better quality of life.
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Fibromyalgia for Caring Men
Hi, I’m Lucjan! The reason why I decided to create this blog was my beautiful wife, who experienced a lot of pain in life, but also the lack of information about endometriosis and fibromyalgia for men…