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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

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What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia (fibro for short) is a widespread pain syndrome primarily affecting the musculoskeletal system that is often associated with autoimmune diseases. Fibro isn’t at the moment classified as an autoimmune disease because it doesn’t cause inflammation, and there is no evidence that it damages the surrounding tissues. This could all change with more research and it really depends on who you ask. Doctors are unsure as to the exact cause of fibro, they do suspect that stress, or physical trauma could trigger the disease. As to why it is so often associated with autoimmune disorders doctors don’t have the answer to that either.

Fibro can mimic many autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and psoriatic arthritis. This is what makes this chronic condition so hard to diagnose. Not to mention the symptoms are all over the place literally. Any part of the musculoskeletal system can be affected like muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, and fascia. Also, lets not forget severe headaches, stiffness, depression, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, trouble concentrating, gastrointestinal tract problems like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), and tender points all over the body (called trigger points) that are excruciating when touched. Something even as light as a piece of clothing could potentially cause pain to one of these tender areas. I personally like to wear stretchy things as to avoid setting off one of my trigger points.

These symptoms can really take a toll on a person’s quality of life. The joint, muscle pain, and stiffness are enough to debilitate anyone. Then add in all the other symptoms on top of that. With headaches so severe that it can make your hair follicles hurt, and you have to lay in a dark room because the light makes the pain worse.

Fibromyalgia comes in flares which means there might be times when the disease is more active than others. This works much the same as lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis. Because fibro so closely mimics other diseases you can see how it can be hard to get a diagnosis.

There are certain symptoms that help aid doctors in making a diagnosis after ruling out all other illnesses. Like persistent widespread pain, trouble concentrating, sleep disturbances, fatigue, and the trigger points that we discussed earlier. You must have eleven of the eighteen trigger points to be considered for meeting the diagnosis criteria. These spots on the body are located on the chest, neck, back, shoulders, hips, and knees on both sides of the body.

The truth of the matter is that fibromyalgia is shrouded in mystery. There is so much that we still don’t know or understand about this chronic illness. While there are treatments available no cure is known. I look forward to more research studies coming out in the future and maybe shedding some light on what causes fibro, as well as what the long-term effects are on the body. Again, I am not a medical professional and this article in no way should be taken as medical advice. As always thank you for reading this article, and I hope you gained a bit more understanding of this mysterious illness. Have a blessed day and keep fighting warriors.

Signed a fellow warrior,

Amy Archibald

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