Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues.
Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.
+ Pain areas: in the muscles, abdomen, back, or neck
+ Pain types: can be chronic, diffuse, sharp, or severe
+ Pain circumstances: can occur at night
+ Whole body: fatigue, feeling tired, or malaise
+ Muscular: muscle tenderness, delayed onset muscle soreness, or muscle spasms
+ Gastrointestinal: constipation, nausea, or passing excessive amounts of gas
+ Mood: anxiety, mood swings, or nervousness
+ Cognitive :forgetfulness or lack of concentration
+ of coldness or tingling
+ Sensory: pins and needles or sensitivity to pain
+ Sleep: difficulty falling asleep or sleep disturbances
+ Also common: depression, flare, headache, irritability, joint stiffness, painful menstruation, sensitivity to cold, or tingling feet
YOUR POINT OF CONTACT
ABOUT | I’m Carly, a 27-year-old Canadian woman. I am also a daughter, sister, fiance, friend, and advocate. I recently just graduated from my hometown university with a degree in psychology. I have always had a passion for finding different ways to help those around me, so psychology seemed like the right fit. Although I have yet to meet my ultimate goal (of becoming a social worker) I have been welcomed into a wonderful community that allows me to connect with all of you.
AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES | Fibromyalgia
A doctor will suspect fibromyalgia based on your symptoms. Doctors may require that you have tenderness to pressure or tender points at a specific number of certain spots before saying you have fibromyalgia, but they are not required to make the diagnosis. A physical exam can be helpful to detect tenderness and to exclude other causes of muscle pain. There are no diagnostic tests (such as X-rays or blood tests) for this problem. Yet, you may need tests to rule out another health problem that can be confused with fibromyalgia.
Because widespread body pain is the main feature of fibromyalgia, health care providers will ask you to describe your pain. This may help tell the difference between fibromyalgia and other diseases with similar symptoms. Other conditions such as hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland) and polymyalgia rheumatica sometimes mimic fibromyalgia. Blood tests can tell if you have either of these problems. Sometimes, fibromyalgia is confused with rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. But, again, there is a difference in the symptoms, physical findings and blood tests that will help your health care provider detect these health problems. Unlike fibromyalgia, these rheumatic diseases cause inflammation in the joints and tissues.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved three drugs for the treatment of fibromyalgia. They include two drugs that change some of the brain chemicals (serotonin and norepinephrine) that help control pain levels: duloxetine (Cymbalta) and milnacipran (Savella). Older drugs that affect these same brain chemicals also may be used to treat fibromyalgia. These include amitriptyline (Elavil) and cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril). Other antidepressant drugs can be helpful in some patients. Side effects vary by the drug. Ask your doctor about the risks and benefits of your medicine.
The other drug approved for fibromyalgia is pregabalin (Lyrica). Pregabalin and another drug, gabapentin (Neurontin), work by blocking the over activity of nerve cells involved in pain transmission. These medicines may cause dizziness, sleepiness, swelling and weight gain.
It is strongly recommended to avoid opioid narcotic medications for treating fibromyalgia. The reason for this is that research evidence shows these drugs are not of helpful to most people with fibromyalgia, and will cause greater pain sensitivity or make pain persist. Tramadol (Ultram) may be used to treat fibromyalgia pain if short-term use of an opioid narcotic is needed. Over-the-counter medicines such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (commonly called NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox) are not effective for fibromyalgia pain. Yet, these drugs may be useful to treat the pain triggers of fibromyalgia. Thus, they are most useful in people who have other causes for pain such as arthritis in addition to fibromyalgia.
METHODS OF HEALING
Sadly I haven’t experienced any form of healing. However, I do have some pain management favorites. I love my heating pad, tens machine, harmony roller, acupuncture mat, CBD rub, light exercise, and cannabis.
Here are some great websites, authors, podcasts and other resources to help you navigate your Autoimmune Disease.
These are the women that have shared their autoimmune journey with us. Please take a moment to read some of their brave, honest and revealing stories about their diagnosis, successes, hardships and their lives.