If you or someone you love has been diagnosed, you may be wondering how serious is fibromyalgia. Knowing what to expect can help you handle this condition.
When you learn you or someone you love has a medical condition, the first thing you want to know is how it will impact your life. How serious is fibromyalgia? We have the answers for you.
Fibromyalgia, the Overview
This is a common chronic pain condition, so you aren’t alone. But since fibromyalgia isn’t as easy to explain or understand as some other conditions, you may have lots of questions. Let’s go over some of the questions you may be struggling with.
What is Fibromyalgia?
It’s a condition that results in muscle and bone pain, as well as fatigue, memory problems sometimes called fibro fog, and sleep issues.
Where Does Fibromyalgia Come From?
Experts can’t say for certain, but they believe it stems from issues with how a person’s spinal cord and brain interpret and process pain signals they receive from nerves in the body.
Who Can Get Fibromyalgia?
Anyone can get it, but you’re more likely to if you are female, don’t exercise much, have a family history of it, have depression or anxiety, are a victim of abuse, or have a disease such as rheumatoid arthritis.
How Many People Have Fibromyalgia?
Knowing exactly how many people have this disorder is hard to say, since some people aren’t diagnosed because they just live with the symptoms thinking it's normal.
But some estimates say as many as 10 million people suffer from it in the U.S.
How Is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed and Treated?
The diagnosis of fibromyalgia starts with the elimination of other conditions that can cause similar symptoms, such as lupus and arthritis. That might require x-rays and blood tests. Once those other conditions are ruled out as possible causes, some doctors may look at 18 tender trigger points in your body.
While in the past, the 18 tender points were crucial to a diagnosis, many doctors no longer rely upon them. As long as a person has no other medical conditions that could be blamed for the issue and they’ve suffered from widespread pain for over three months, the doctor may diagnose fibromyalgia.
If you have this condition, you may use certain medications and self-care to fight it. The goal of treating fibromyalgia is to cut down on the pain you have to cope with and to make sure you get enough sleep.
How Bad Is Fibromyalgia Pain?
Are you trying to learn about this condition to help a loved one who has it? Or are you newly diagnosed and wondering how much worse the pain might get? Either way, figuring out what pain levels to expect is only natural.
You might ask yourself if how fibromyalgia affects me is different than how it affects someone else. And the answer is -- it might be.
How fibromyalgia feels for you will depend on many factors, including what your pain tolerance is, what you’re doing to combat it, and also if you’re having a flare-up. Some days, you might feel much better than others.
What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia syndrome? You may experience:
- Memory problems.
- Mood issues, such as anxiety and even mood swings.
- Problems sleeping.
- Numbness and tingling.
- Pain, much like a deep ache often above and below your waist on both sides of your body.
You might have bad days, and you might have some that give you a bit of hope that you can successfully manage your condition. You should prepare yourself for ups and downs as you work to improve your quality of life.
Fibromyalgia Life Influence
Fibromyalgia pain can be debilitating, and may keep you from wanting to exercise. It also may prevent you from doing activities you once enjoyed. You might have a hard time wanting to make plans with friends or family, wondering if you’ll feel like going anywhere, especially if you’re required to make plans in advance.
Your pain levels and fatigue may cause you to miss work or do poorly while you’re there, which could lead to being overlooked for promotions or even eventually job loss.
Emotionally, you may feel drained all the time and even cheated that you have to deal with such a serious and painful condition. You might develop depression or anxiety, even if you’ve never had these issues before as you deal with your symptoms of fibromyalgia.
For some, the fatigue is just as bad as the pain. You might find yourself unable to get to sleep or stay asleep. You may wake up feeling exhausted, even though you just tried your best to get enough sleep.
You may experience frequent awakenings in the night as the pain hits you even while you’re resting.
How to Relieve Fibromyalgia Symptoms
Finding ways to improve your sleep will greatly improve your mood and your feeling of being able to handle this condition.
That’s where self-help measures come in handy. You might find things such as a warm bath soothing before bed. It may help to relax you and help you drift off to sleep.
You should make your bedroom as soothing as possible. Try turning on a fan or some other sort of white noise machine. Some people find these relaxing, and it might help you as well. You should also try to drown out all the light you can by putting up black-out curtains or blinds.
Buying a weighted blanket may also help you manage your symptoms, particularly if anxiety at bedtime keeps you up. When buying a weighted blanket, look for one that weighs somewhere around 10 percent of your body weight. It will be heavy enough to help with some of your symptoms, but not so heavy that you’re uncomfortable.
While exercise may not sound appealing to you because of how stiff and sore your body is, it’s one of the best self-care treatments you can do for yourself when you are fighting this condition. It will help you control your weight. That’s important because carrying extra weight may aggravate some of the bone and muscle pain you feel with fibromyalgia.
It may give you more energy, counteracting some of the fatigue you feel. It may give you a boost in confidence and tiring out your body each day may help you sleep better at night too.
Exercise can also improve your range of motion and help you ward off developing other conditions down the road that might make your overall health even worse.
To start off, you’ll want to focus on low-impact exercises. Some excellent choices for you include walking, swimming, yoga, and pilates. This will cause less stress on your joints and muscles than higher-impact sports like running and aerobics.
If you do well with lower-impact exercises, you can try to branch out to higher impact activities and see how your body tolerates them, if you wish.
It’s Serious, But Doable
This condition may impact your life negatively, there’s no way around that. But with proper self-care and medications, you can get your life back.
It won’t always be easy, but it will be something you can handle. With time and experience, you might find your battle is easier as you become better at setting the stress aside and living your healthiest life.