What is fibromyalgia and what are the symptoms?

Fibromyalgia is a very common chronic pain condition that affects more than 10 million Americans according to the National Fibromyalgia Association. The most common symptoms of fibromyalgia include muscle pain, muscle tenderness, tender points throughout the body, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and feelings of anxiousness or depression. Additional symptoms can also include, headaches, sensitivity to temperature, light or noise, bloating, tingling sensations throughout the body, and irritable bowel syndrome. Interestingly, the musculoskeletal pain that is associated with fibromyalgia can often be confused with joint pain (like osteoarthritis) or other general pain/stiffness in the body which can make it difficult for your doctor to initially diagnose fibromyalgia.

What causes fibromyalgia?

As of right now, there isn’t consensus regarding the cause of fibromyalgia but it is believed to be an issue with how pain signals are received within the central nervous system. However, research suggests if you are a woman, exercise infrequently, have anxiety, depression, or PTSD, you are more likely to be diagnosed. Additionally, some research shows that genetics plays a role and suggests that fibromyalgia is hereditary.  

How can I manage my fibromyalgia pain?

Here are four tips to help manage your fibromyalgia symptoms so you can regain control of your life.

  • Exercise regularly
    • Trying to be as physically active as you can be (even when you are in pain) is an effective way to deal with your pain from fibromyalgia. Walking, swimming, yoga, or light weightlifting can help improve your strength, flexibility, and balance which can help ease your symptoms and reduce pain.
  • Avoid sugary foods
    • Recent research suggests that reducing or eliminating sugar consumption can greatly improve your fibromyalgia symptoms since sugar has been linked to an increase in painful flare ups. In addition, excessive sugar consumption has been linked to weight-gain which can exacerbate joint pain and fatigue that is already experienced by people who have fibromyalgia. 
  • Get a good night’s sleep
    • Sleep problems can be common for people with fibromyalgia. That’s why good sleeping habits, like avoiding caffeine before bed, can help mitigate your symptoms as it can help your body relax and recover from the stress, anxiety, and pain this condition inflicts on your body. 
  • Find ways to relieve stress
    • It is common to be worried, stressed, or anxious because of fibromyalgia, that is why finding a reliable method of stress relief can pay dividends. Whether it is meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, therapy, or practicing mindfulness, experts agree that having a reliable method to relieve stress is important when managing this condition.

While fibromyalgia may still be widely unknown to most Americans it is a condition that affects individuals throughout their entire lives. While there is still a lot to be uncovered about this condition, there are many treatment options (current and investigative) that may provide relief. Talk with your doctor to find out what’s right for you and your symptoms. Remember, you are not alone in this fight and you can still live an active life with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

If you are suffering from fibromyalgia, Boston Clinical Trials has a clinical research study available that is testing the efficacy and safety of a new, investigational medicine. Click here to learn more about this clinical trial.