How Does Fibromyalgia Start?
How does fibromyalgia start? This is a very good question, and I have spent hours researching my own diagnosis. There is no definitive answer, but I would like to share some valuable information.
According to Powerhealthreno, Dr. Gates explains that, "some individuals seem to have a sudden onset of symptoms, whilst others, tend to have a prolonged onset." Mine was definitely in the prolonged category.
Also, according to Healthline, "Fibromyalgia is one of the most common chronic pain conditions in the world. It affects about 10 million people in the United States, according to the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA)."
What Are the Fibromyalgia Risk Factors?
In order to try to answer the above question (how does fibromyalgia start?) we must look at the risk factors. There is much discussion about whether people have a genetic predisposition for developing fibromyalgia, or whether a set of circumstances increases the risk of developing the condition.
Does fibromyalgia run in your family? I feel this is an important factor to investigate and share with your doctor. Especially on that first visit, when you notice some of the early symptoms.
I personally believe there are a complex set of factors and risks presented in an individual’s life, making one more susceptible to developing fibromyalgia.
Some common risk factors:
Hormone imbalances: could lower levels of hormones within the central nervous system, lead to intensification of pain signals and sensitivity? These hormones may include serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.
Genetics: research is still underway to identify if fibromyalgia runs in families. I do not have any family members who have fibromyalgia, but my father has ankylosing spondylitis, could this be a determining factor?
Trauma: many people develop fibromyalgia after an emotional and/or physical trauma. This can include surgery, an infectious disease, injury, childbirth or a traumatic life event, such as divorce or loss of a loved one.
Fibromyalgia tends to affect more women than men. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), women are eight to nine times more likely than men to develop fibromyalgia.
Age ranges tend to be more prevalent for diagnosis between 20 and 50 years of age, although some people can start to develop symptoms earlier.
Early Stages of Fibromyalgia
There are seven stages to developing fibromyalgia. I can certainly see myself in all of these. From feeling under the weather, still working, to struggling at work, then retirement at 44. Although, I have made significant improvements by using lifestyle changes since.
This might be the best answer for the question "how does fibromyalgia start?" This is where you experience pain and fatigue. You may wonder if you have flu. Usually you are still able to work and socialize.
At this stage, basic painkillers such as Advil and ibuprofen give minimum relief. You may have been diagnosed at this point. You may have to reduce your workload, upon still trying to socialize.
Now, constant pain and fatigue sets in. You may start to feel depressed. You may become worried about working, limited socializing and you may be spending the most of your time resting.
By now, you may have had to call in sick to work. Taking advantage of a good day, means having to increase rest on others and decreasing socializing.
Unfortunately, now you have possibly left work. You might have to spend most of your time resting, possibly in bed, although sleep is erratic. Feeling misunderstood will become normal, regardless of family and friends trying to help. This is why forming alliances with other people with fibromyalgia may help you.
Now, you are possibly waiting on a disability claim, as simple tasks may be difficult. You also might be trying out various medications for symptoms and TV is your best friend. Feeling overwhelmed is okay, but make sure you have a support group.
Finally, there is acceptance. This is where I am now. You feel a weight lift from your shoulders. You research how to change your lifestyle and learn about coping techniques. Many of your contacts have fibromyalgia, as you feel these individuals accept you for you.
Do you see yourself above?
What Are the Common Symptoms?
- Sleep Issues
- Morning stiffness
- Painful menstrual periods
- Skin issues
- Cognitive problems
- Anxiety and depression
- Digestive issues
Since the symptoms vary so much, it can sometimes take years to be diagnosed. This is not an exhaustive list, but it gives you an idea of why the condition is so difficult to diagnose.
Your doctor will want to rule out other conditions first:
The conditions above can mimic symptoms of fibromyalgia, which is why these need to be ruled out, as you may have one of these conditions, as well as fibromyalgia. This can intensify the pain of the condition. I also have advanced osteoarthritis, which is much more painful, due to having fibromyalgia.
A Fibromyalgia Diagnosis
Doctors will order the relevant tests to rule out these conditions. Fibromyalgia is tricky to diagnose, as there are no blood tests, or scans to provide the diagnosis. Please be aware that it may take some time to get your official diagnosis. My advice is to be open and honest with your symptoms and to keep pushing the doctor to follow through with your concerns. I would also advise keeping a diary, to help track activities to see what increases or reduces the symptoms. Make sure to share this with your doctor.
The earlier you obtain a diagnosis, the quicker you can learn about the condition, try different medications and treatments, and touch base with other individuals with the condition.
What’s the Prognosis?
While there is currently no cure for this condition, there are many ways to help alleviate your symptoms, both medically and alternatively.
The best advice I had from a practitioner was to learn to be accepting and not to fight the diagnosis. Rather, embrace it and try out different things to alleviate your symptoms. You never know - what might not suit one person, might give you amazing results.