Arthritis has bothered you for years, but typically only in your knees on cold and wet days. Lately, you’ve noticed waking up with pain every day, and not just in your knees – but all over your body. You may be experiencing the warning signs of a condition known as fibromyalgia.
What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a condition resulting in pain all over the body (sometimes called “widespread pain”), trouble sleeping, tiredness, and often mental and emotional suffering. If you have fibromyalgia, you could be more susceptible to pain than someone who doesn’t have the condition. This is what’s known as “abnormal pain perception processing.” Fibromyalgia impacts almost four million US adults, or about two percent of all adults. The cause is unknown, but the condition can be effectively treated.
Know the symptoms
The most widely recognized symptoms may include:
- Widespread pain. The discomfort related to fibromyalgia often is defined as a continuous dull ache that has persisted for three months or longer. The condition is considered widespread if you experience pain on both sides of the body, and below and above your waistline.
- Tiredness. If you have fibromyalgia, you may often awaken exhausted, even though you say you slept for long stretches of time. Sleep is often interrupted by pain, and many people who have fibromyalgia have other sleep problems, like restless legs syndrome, and when you’re breathing stops and starts while sleeping.
- Cognitive problems. A symptom widely referred to as “fibro fog” weakens your ability to pay attention, focus, and think clearly about mental tasks.
What are the causes?
The reasons for fibromyalgia are unknown. They may be various in different people. Current research proposes a connection to the nervous system, principally the central nervous system (spinal cord and brain). It could be triggered by stressful events, repetitive injuries, and illnesses like viral infections. Fibromyalgia may also be hereditary.
As is the case with many illnesses, there are certain risk factors that could predispose you to developing fibromyalgia.
- Your gender. Women get fibromyalgia twice as often as men.
- Your age. Middle-aged people are more predisposed to fibromyalgia. The typical age span where fibromyalgia gets diagnosed is 35 to 45 years old.
- If you have certain diseases, like lupus, ankylosing spondylitis, or rheumatoid arthritis.
- People with a biological family member who’s been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
Coping With Fibromyalgia Symptoms
Sometimes, one of the hardest things to take is that there isn’t a cure for fibromyalgia. Sure, medications and lifestyle changes can reduce the cruelty of your fibromyalgia discomfort or fatigue, but you’ll still have good days and bad days.
Here are some ways to help you cope with fibromyalgia symptoms:
- It’s better to be prepared than not. Because symptoms come and go, why not prepare for bad days, just in case?
- People with fibromyalgia tend to have self-esteem issues and talk poorly about themselves. Don’t do it. Instead of saying, “I can’t do anything today,” say, “I can get a lot done if I just do this …” Avoid negative self-talk and be stronger for it.
- It’s okay to admit you’re having a bad day and tell someone about it. Have a conversation with a sympathetic family member or friend and share that you’re wracked with frustration or feel overwhelmed, but don’t dwell on the warning signs.
- Learn to prioritize things you want to accomplish so you’re not wasting time and effort on something that won’t bring satisfaction or a sense of accomplishment.
- Consider using ketamine therapy to treat symptoms of fibromyalgia. According to a study by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, there’s evidence that long-term chronic pain can be treated with ketamine.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Relax and try deep breathing and mindfulness exercises.
- Find distractions through something enjoyable, like books, television programs, movies, music, art, or crossword puzzles. But keep your mind and body engaged.
Diagnosis & treatment
Your healthcare provider will ask for details about your symptoms and personal and family medical history, but there are no lab tests for fibromyalgia. Instead, your clinician will offer a diagnosis based upon these criteria:
- You have suffered widespread (in numerous spots on your body) pain for more than three months.
- You report other symptoms, like fatigue, memory, or trouble sleeping.
Getting diagnosed with fibromyalgia may require seeing several doctors before a decision is made.
Non-drug therapies are often used to treat fibromyalgia, including psychotherapy, diet, and exercise. Certain prescription medicine is also used, as well as ketamine infusion therapy.
Fibromyalgia is widespread and affects millions of adults. But it’s a club membership you shouldn’t ignore. The pain and discomfort of symptoms of the condition can be reduced and managed over the long term, particularly with newer ketamine therapy. Ketamine is a powerful anesthetic that may help relieve pain symptoms.