Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease characterized mainly by widespread pain in the bones and muscles throughout the body, as well as the feeling of persistent fatigue. In addition, it can cause sleep, memory and mood problems.
The WHO (World Health Organization) has considered it a disease since 1992, since until then, it was considered a psychological somatization disorder. That is, an imaginary pathology that produces symptoms such as fatigue. However, Genomics Genetics International (GGI) conducted a study that determined that this disease has a neurological origin. In fact, it is the result of neurochemical imbalances at the level of the central nervous system.
What is fibromyalgia?
It is a pathology that affects between 2% and 7% of the general population, and one of the most characteristic features is that it affects more women than men.
Today, fibromyalgia is a disease that still generates many doubts and controversies, both in its diagnosis and in the treatment to be followed.
It affects women more than men.
Despite the uncertainty, it is known that it is a chronic, nondegenerative disease that causes hypersensitivity in different body areas and predefined points that concentrate more discomfort, such as the neck, back, shoulders, hips, arms, or legs.
In addition, this pathology is characterized mainly because the pain is generated by stimuli that are not usually painful.
It is usually a gradual process that shows, at first, mild symptoms that later become more acute. There have also been some cases of people suffering from fibromyalgia as a result of a triggering event such as trauma, surgery or stress.
The causes of the disease
The exact causes of fibromyalgia have not yet been identified. There are indications that allow us to outline a set of points that could be behind the appearance of this disease.
The genetic factor is one of the clues being studied. It has been proven that fibromyalgia is usually hereditary, which has led us to think that some genetic mutations may play a leading role in the appearance of this disorder and make those who have them more predisposed to developing it.
Genetic factors, stress, infections, or certain pathologies could be the cause of the disease.
On the other hand, stress is also considered a possible cause of the pathology. It has been detected that there are occasions in which the fact of suffering a situation of psychological or physical stress (trauma) activates fibromyalgia.
In some cases, infections, whatever their type, can be the trigger or aggravation of the disease. It is also common to find cases of people who have developed fibromyalgia after starting to have lupus, arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Fibromyalgia presents some very clear and easy to identify symptoms, such as muscle pain, chronic fatigue, sleep and memory problems.
On the other hand, this pathology in many patients can also translate into headaches, anxiety, depression, concentration difficulties, and irritable bowel syndrome.
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases explains that people with this disease may also suffer from other symptoms, such as stiffness in the morning or tingling sensations in their hands and feet.
However, despite the number of symptoms the disease can produce, the key symptom is widespread pain that is aggravated by stress, emotional arousal, or cold. Fibromyalgia patients also have intolerance to olfactory and auditory stimuli, so environmental conditions can be disruptive.
A rheumatologist is a specialist physician who diagnoses fibromyalgia. As it is a disease with so many unknowns, specialists diagnose the pathology according to the presence of diffuse pain with a continuity of more than three months and pain sensitivity in at least eleven of the 18 pain points or trigger points.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease, so it has not been possible to find a definitive cure for patients. However, the administration of some drugs, as well as the following of some guidelines, can contribute to controlling the symptoms.
Each treatment must be personalized, as there is no standard medication that works for all patients, since not everyone suffers from the same symptoms. The goal is to reduce symptoms and allow patients to lead as normal a life as possible.
Each treatment must be personalized.
Stress reduction and relaxation are highly desirable, as well as moderate exercise. In addition, patients are advised to attend regular physiotherapy, as it allows them to increase strength and become more flexible and resilient.
As far as drugs are concerned, the use of analgesics such as paracetamol and ibuprofen serves to improve the general condition of the body and reduce pain. Likewise, antidepressants or anticonvulsants can help reduce pain and fatigue, and muscle relaxants allow for more effective sleep.
Reducing stress, relaxation and moderate exercise are highly desirable.
Current treatments, although not definitive, are basically aimed at reducing pain and fatigue, improving sleep and activity levels, adaptation and quality of life of patients, as well as maintaining functionality and increasing the ability to cope with the disease.
In spite of not having exact certainty about the origin of the disease, there are indications that certain habits help to prevent the arrival of fibromyalgia.
Some of these indications are to sleep regularly and respect the necessary hours and to do sports and physical exercise in a moderate way, with special attention to exercises that allow increasing flexibility.