Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition, but that is only one of the debilitating symptoms associated with this often-misunderstood disorder. To get a clearer picture of what a fibromyalgia sufferer is experiencing, we’re going to discuss 7 of the most common symptoms that fibromyalgia patients experience. Then we will consider an emerging way to get help from a natural source.
#1 Chronic Pain
Fibromyalgia patients experience what is called central sensitization. This means the person’s body is constantly in a state of wind-up where stimuli are perceived as far more painful than they should be. For example, if you accidentally touch the stove while it is on, your body amps up the amount of pain you feel to make you withdraw your hand before serious damage occurs. However, a gentle caress from a loved one should not cause the same amount of pain. Central sensitization causes the body to categorize these non-dangerous stimuli in the same way, leading to widespread pain in the body.
#2 Overwhelming Sensory Responses
For a fibromyalgia patient, touch is not the only sense that is easily overwhelmed. Sight, smell, and hearing are also affected. Thus, a loud noise, bright lights, or pungent odor may prove exhausting and trigger a flare-up of symptoms. Jamming a finger may hurt for hours instead of minutes. Catching a whiff of someone’s cigarette as you walk through a parking lot may wipe you out for the rest of the day. A crash from the other room where the kids are playing may lead to days of pain and anxiety. Unfortunately, sensory overload is often unavoidable for a fibromyalgia patient.
#3 Extreme Exhaustion
The exhaustion associated with fibromyalgia can be so debilitating that if you get examined by a doctor on a day when you are more tired than in pain, you could end up diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome instead. Exhaustion may be caused by dealing with pain on a continual basis, but it also may be due to the next symptom on our list – sleep problems.
#4 Difficulty Sleeping
For someone suffering from fibromyalgia, sleep problems can result in a debilitating cycle. Lack of sleep actually causes a person to experience higher pain levels. However, that pain can also make it difficult to sleep. Breaking this insidious cycle may mean educating yourself about the best environment for sleep and making necessary lifestyle changes to improve your sleep habits.
#5 Associated Conditions
One big issue that fibromyalgia patients face is the number of associated conditions that a person is at higher risk for if diagnosed with a chronic pain condition. One example is IBS. Researchers keep finding a link between fibromyalgia and an increased risk for irritable bowel syndrome. Other conditions a patient may be at greater risk for are emotional conditions like depression and anxiety. Whether the pain and uncertainty of the fibromyalgia lead to these other conditions or the effect on one’s social life and career, the results are the same. Depression and anxiety compound the struggle for a fibromyalgia patient.
#6 Cognitive Symptoms
For many fibromyalgia patients, this can be one of the toughest parts of the condition to deal with. Pain can make it difficult to focus. This can affect both work and home life. Short-term memory issues and information retention problems are common. You may wander the house for half an hour looking for your keys only to forget what you needed to go to the store for in the first place. It can be tough to explain to family and friends what it is like to feel as though you are in a fog at all times.
#7 Chronic Headaches or Migraines
Fibromyalgia patients are also at risk for more frequent migraines and headaches. First of all, chronic pain and the stresses of a long-term illness can lead to tension in the neck and shoulders. This can cause chronic tension headaches. However, pain medication can also lead to rebound headaches (also called medication overuse headaches). For someone with a chronic pain condition, going off the pain meds to give the body time to detox doesn’t seem like a viable option. But you may be surprised to find out just how many of the headaches are medication related.
Hope for Fibromyalgia Sufferers in Danville, Illinois
One place that more fibromyalgia sufferers are turning for help is upper cervical chiropractic care. For example, one 32-year-old woman saw the onset of fibromyalgia following several traumas, one of which was serious enough to result in a separated shoulder. Her health rapidly declined over a two-year period. Then she sought upper cervical chiropractic care. Within 4 months she reported that her condition had completely resolved. In fact, 90% of the pain was gone within the first 3 months of care.
If you’ve never heard of upper cervical chiropractic, this is a subspecialty of chiropractic that specifically deals with the top two bones in the neck, the C1 and C2. What does fibromyalgia have to do with the uppermost part of the neck? When the C1 and C2 misalign, it can place pressure on the brainstem and spinal cord. Also, cerebrospinal fluid drainage and blood flow can be inhibited. This can lead to central sensitization and other underlying factors in fibromyalgia.
To learn if upper cervical chiropractic is the right option for you, come and see us at Sooley Chiropractic Health Center in Danville, Illinois. A patient history, physical examination, and diagnostic imaging can help determine if an upper cervical misalignment exists and the exact location and degree of the subluxation. Then a gentle plan of care can be determined to meet your specific needs.