Fibromyalgia pain is different from the regular aches and pains that all of us experience from time to time. If you have fibromyalgia you ache all over. While this condition is life lasting, there are ways to treat the symptoms to bring some level of relief.
Fibromyalgia sufferers often have painful “trigger points” on their bodies that hurt no matter what they try to do to gain comfort. Sometimes, medications they take seem to do nothing. For many, fibromyalgia feels as if the muscles have been overworked or pulled. In other cases, muscles will twitch. There are also situations when muscles will burn, and a person will experience an ache along with a deep stabbing pain. The pain is often around the joints in the hips, back, shoulders, neck, and arms. Some people complain about chest pain as well. Fibromyalgia pain makes it very hard to be active or to sleep.
There are no lab tests to determine if a person has fibromyalgia. Doctors diagnose the condition through a pressure point test. A person who has fibromyalgia will be sensitive to pressure in certain parts of the body. If you are sensitive in eleven out of 18 fibromyalgia pain points for three consecutive months, you will likely be diagnosed with the syndrome.
Unfortunately, pain is not the only issue. There are several fibromyalgia pain symptoms, too. Below we list the most common.
- Poor concentration
- Memory problems
- Bladder problems
- Bowel problems
- Numbness and tingling in different parts of the body
Fibromyalgia: Acute pain and chronic pain
Acute pain comes on suddenly and in many cases goes away in a matter of days or weeks. An example of this would be a strained muscle from physical activity. Chronic pain, on the other hand, is ongoing.
When pain doesn’t disappear, our bodies are telling us something. We could have an abnormality in our brain or some other physical condition. As chemical changes occur in our body, including the brain, the body becomes even more sensitive to pain and the level of pain can exacerbate as time goes on.
The chronic pain experienced by fibromyalgia sufferers is frustrating. The never ending aches, painful tender points, sleepless nights, headaches, daytime fatigue, and inability to participate in normal activities can get to a person. It can lead to irritability and difficulty in relationships. For women who are trying to work and take care of their families, it can be particularly challenging. Those who go undiagnosed and untreated can become so overwhelmed, that the irritation soon turns into anxiety, social isolation, and depression.
Types of fibromyalgia pain
One of the difficulties for fibromyalgia patients is describing their pain. There are, in fact, different fibromyalgia types. Sometimes, explaining to a doctor in medical terms how you feel can help them determine how to ease your symptoms.
Here are the three types of fibromyalgia pain:
- Paresthesia – these are nerve sensations that feel like tingling and numbness or even crawling. Sometimes, they can be painful. This type of feeling can be associated with other ailments, such as migraines and MS.
- Allodynia – this is when your skin hurts to touch and when mild pressure from gentle massage or clothing actually causes pain.
- Hyperalgesia – this is the medical term for pain being amplified. It is like our brain taking a normal pain signal and turning up the volume.
There are other types of fibromyalgia pain that don’t have an official medical name, but have been labeled something like the names below:
- Knife in the Voodoo Doll – intense stabbing pain that cuts through the body and is often located in the chest or abdomen, but can occur in various parts of the body.
- Randomly Roving – pain the moves from one spot to another.
- Sparkler Burns – a feeling like a spark from a sparkler has hit you causing a pinprick type sensation. It tends to only last a few seconds at a time.
Fibromyalgia pain treatment and home remedies
Since there is no cure for fibromyalgia, the focus is on easing the symptoms. For example, fibromyalgia treatment could include therapies for insomnia if pain is keeping a person awake every night. Prescribed sleep medications, as well as some antidepressants have been used to help people with the syndrome restore their sleep. The anticonvulsant drug, Lyrica, is used to treat fibromyalgia patients. A drug called Cymbalta was designed to help with both the emotional and physical symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Home remedies for fibromyalgia pain relief are often encouraged. Chronic pain can be difficult to cope with, but research shows the natural approaches, including lifestyle adjustments, can be very effective in controlling the level of pain a person with fibromyalgia experiences.
Exercise has been known to boost the body’s production of serotonin, which is the mood-enhancing chemical in our brains. It can also improve blood flow to release stress and, in turn, relieve pain. Exercises like Pilates, yoga, and tai chi, as well as meditation have made it easier for a lot of people to cope with chronic pain.
A large number of fibromyalgia sufferers have reported success with both light massage therapy and/or acupuncture. Others recommend biofeedback, a mind-body technique that teaches people how to control involuntary body functions, including blood pressure, muscle clenching, and heart rate. Biofeedback machines can give patients enough information about their physiology to allow them to work on controlling functions within their body.
In terms of sleep problems, fibromyalgia sufferers who want to avoid medications can take a more natural approach by trying a warm bath, reading a book, listening to music, or practicing some other soothing ritual just before bedtime. If sleep is still a problem, a doctor can offer other possible solutions.
What works for one fibromyalgia sufferer won’t necessarily work for another. If you have fibromyalgia, you may have to try several different approaches before you find something that brings you comfort. Besides exploring all your options in terms of pain treatment, it is important to educate those around you – share what you know about your condition and develop a support system. Research shows that people who suffer from fibromyalgia do much better at coping and easing their symptoms when surrounded by people who understand and encourage them.