Widespread pain is the characteristic symptom of fibromyalgia, a chronic condition that affects the joints, muscles, and soft tissues. Defined as a collection of symptoms rather than a disease with a known cause, fibromyalgia is not easily understood. At one time, it was thought to be an imaginary illness or mental disorder. Today, it is accepted as a real medical condition.
Although fibromyalgia is called an arthritis-related condition, it is actually a nerve disorder. Doctors think the pain stems from over-active pain processors in the brain. People with fibromyalgia are more sensitive to pain signals, so their pain response is more intense than the normal response.
The idea that fibromyalgia is a nervous system disorder makes it different from other pain. Joint inflammation, for example, causes arthritis pain as an immune system response. Injury or overuse causes muscle pain. People with fibromyalgia feel pain through a powerful response to pain signals in the brain.
Fibromyalgia Pain Symptoms
Fibromyalgia pain symptoms are difficult to describe. This makes it hard for doctors to diagnose the condition. Fibromyalgia pain is widespread, and people feel it simultaneously in different areas of the body.
For some, the pain is located above the waist in the neck, shoulders, chest, and upper back. For others, it occurs below the waist in the hips, buttocks, lower back, legs, and feet. Some feel pain on only one side of the body, while others hurt everywhere.
Fibromyalgia pain symptoms vary in intensity as well, and they can change on a daily basis. The pain may range from a dull ache to a deep pain, or from shooting pain to radiating pain. Sometimes the pain is tender, and other times it feels like “pins and needles.”
Fibromyalgia Pain Relief
Severe chronic pain can disable fibromyalgia sufferers and interfere with daily living. Fortunately, most pain is manageable with proper treatment. Sleep, exercise, and diet are important to fibromyalgia pain relief. Self-care and simple lifestyle changes help patients take an active role in their pain management.
People with fibromyalgia must consider their emotional needs as well as their physical symptoms. Learning to live with fibromyalgia is a challenge that requires emotional support. Many people find help through their family, friends, and support groups. Psychotherapy or professional counseling offers help that may be lacking in a traditional support system.
Finally, stress management is a helpful skill for chronic pain sufferers. Meditation, visual exercises, and deep breathing techniques help people respond to the physical and emotional stress that triggers fibromyalgia pain. Learning to relax is essential therapy for fibromyalgia pain relief.