Pain Disorders

Risk factors and symptoms of fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, accompanied by excessive sleep, mood and memory issues, and fatigue. Medical researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the signal processing of the brain. The symptoms of fibromyalgia begin after a physical trauma, infection, surgery, or psychological stress.

A survey concluded that women are more likely to suffer from fibromyalgia when compared with men. Individuals suffering from fibromyalgia might also suffer from temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), anxiety, and depression.

Risk factors
The symptoms of fibromyalgia are characterized as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which are believed to be a result of an excessive response toward the normal stimuli and central nervous system.

It is observed that people suffering from fibromyalgia have an unusually high level of two chemicals—substance P and glutamate. High levels of these two substances in the body might result in over-exaggerated pain signals in the body. It is also seen that people suffering from fibromyalgia tend to have a decreased blood flow to the thalamus. Following factors increase the risk of suffering from fibromyalgia:

  • Age– Fibromyalgia is considered a gender-specific disorder, which mostly affects post-menopausal women. However, it can be seen that it affects women aged between 20 and 50 years. However, the symptoms might not be visible in the younger ages.
  • Gender– As discussed above, fibromyalgia is a gender-specific disorder and mostly affects women. It has been observed that the symptoms of fibromyalgia increase with the decline in the estrogen levels. Hence, the onset of menopause might trigger fibromyalgia.
  • Stress– Recently, it has been deduced that stress accompanied by sleep problems can also trigger the symptoms of fibromyalgia. The pain is further heightened when stress results in anxiety and depression.
  • Genetics– Genetics are also believed to be a risk factor as having a parent or sibling with the same condition increases the risk of suffering from fibromyalgia.

Pain due to fibromyalgia feels more than just muscle ache and joint pain. Fibromyalgia is a persistent and widespread pain, which moves through the body in the form of waves. It causes sensations that are often described as throbbing, diffuse, intense, and stabbing. Fibromyalgia can be painful even with the mild changes in the temperature and pressure. Some people experience consistent levels of symptoms whereas others go through periods of remission alternating periodically. Apart from pain, fibromyalgia has a dizzying array of symptoms, some of them are mentioned below.

  • Fibromyalgia can result in cognitive disorders such as disorientation, loss of concentration, and “brain fog”.
  • It can also result in sleep disorders such as broken sleep and insomnia.
  • Being one of the most common symptoms, fibromyalgia also results in chronic fatigue.
  • It also results in muscle spasms, muscle weakness, and jaw pain.
  • Neurosensory symptoms such as a migraine, vertigo, sensitivity to light, and smell can also be experienced in fibromyalgia.
  • Fibromyalgia also causes gastrointestinal symptoms such as constipation, bloating, cramping, and diarrhea.
  • It can cause frequent urge to urinate, bladder pain, and pain during urination.
  • Fibromyalgia also results in painful periods, premature menopause, and pelvic pain.