Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fibromyalgia for Friends

This is an illustration of the trigger points for FMS.
I am still having a rough time with my FMS so I won't be writing much but I thought I would share some information that one of my Fibro friends, Jennifer, put together to help her friends and family try to understand a little better. Here is what she writes:

If you're having trouble explaining what fibromyalgia is to your friends or family or they're still not getting it, I compiled this information from various sites. These are direct quotes from various articles. I didn't write any of this personally. I sent this to my family and amazingly, they all read it. It really helped them to understand this complex and varying illness.What is Fibromyalgia? Fibromyalgia is a relatively unknown illness, even though it affects between 3 and 6 million Americans every year. Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that causes widespread and chronic pain in your body. This pain is also accompanied by numerous other symptoms and often has a great impact on your freedom and enjoyment of life. Fibromyalgia syndrome seems to attack more women than men, with 80% of sufferers being female. Onset of this syndrome generally occurs during early adulthood or middle age and is characterized by symptoms that wax and wane over periods of time.Symptoms of FibromyalgiaFibromyalgia symptoms are painful and can be debilitating. Fibromyalgia attacks the muscles throughout your body, causing them to ache, burn, and twitch. If you are suffering from the syndrome, you probably feel achy all over, especially in the arms, lower back, shoulders and neck area. Fibromyalgia causes tingling in the fingers and toes, severe fatigue, headaches, and sleep problems. The syndrome is also associated with abdominal pain and gastrointestinal complications. Additionally, many suffers have to deal with anxiety and depression triggered by their fibromyalgia.Chronic muscular pain is just one facet of this syndrome; it runs much deeper than just sore and aching muscles or joints. Just living with gravity and our modern day stress can cause much of the soreness and muscle tension that most people experience. However, when we have the condition of fibromyalgia, or myofascial pain syndrome, all of the stress and tension is intensified ten-fold.The chronic pain can be regional, myofascial pain syndrome (in the connective tissue or muscles) or widespread fibromyalgia with overall aches and pains accompanied by neurological and other problems. The condition can be very severe and has many faces.Most have a sleep disorder called the alpha-EEG anomaly. This means that they don’t get to the deeper levels of sleep and they are constantly interrupted by awakening brain activity. Thus, when they wake up they feel that they didn’t get any rest and the body did not get a chance to recover. This condition creates added stress, which keeps them in the vicious cycle.Temperomandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome (TMJ) is connected with the headaches or face pain in 25-30% of FMS patients. Research indicates that as many as 90% of fibromyalgia patients may have jaw and facial tenderness that could produce the same symptoms of TMJ.Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) It’s common for many of these women to have bowel problems, constipation or diarrhea. Frequent abdominal or chest pain is also not uncommon. These symptoms are found in 60% to 70% of fibromyalgia patients, according to the research, in addition to PMS and painful menstrual periods (dysmenorrhea).Other common symptoms include muscle numbness and or tingling sensations; muscle twitching; swollen extremities, dry skin or skin sensitivity, dry eyes and mouth; dizziness and impaired coordination. Often patients experience sensitivity to weather or wind, rain, and changes in temperature. Hormonal fluctuations (premenstrual and menopausal states), depression, anxiety and overexertion can all contribute to symptom flare-ups.There is currently no cure for fibromyalgia and treatments are also limited in their effectiveness. Generally, antidepressants, other neurological medications like anti-convulsants, muscle relaxants and pain medications are used to treat the symptoms of fibromyaligia. However, no treatment has been proven to work for a large group of patients with FM. This lack of effective fibromyalgia treatment is basically due to the minimal knowledge researchers have about the syndrome. No one is completely sure of the causes of the illness and thus no appropriate treatments for fibromyalgia have yet been found.

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