What Is Fibromyalgia? A Definitive Guide to Understanding Fibromyalgia


Fibromyalgia Treatment Options

  • Therapy. Physical therapy (PT) can assist in increasing your strength, flexibility, as well as energy through exercises. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of therapy that may help you learn ways to better cope with stress, which can be a major factor in many of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. CBT may be especially beneficial for those that also have mood disorders, or that have developed fibromyalgia after experiencing some emotional trauma. Occupational Therapy (OT) may help you to make adjustments to your work area or your home and learn how to perform everyday activities in a way that will cause you less pain.
  • Diet. There are a number of foods that have been found to increase pain and stomach and digestive issues for many. Avoiding trigger foods and increasing your intake of healthy foods that lower inflammation and pain can be a big help in treating fibromyalgia.
  • Alternative treatments. Some have found relief pursuing what may be considered alternative treatment. Acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic care have all been helpful for some.

While not a treatment per say, it can be immensely beneficial to find others with fibromyalgia to talk to. There may be support groups in your area, and there are also a number of online support groups, as well as groups and individuals on social media. Finding others with fibromyalgia can help with answering questions, finding support and advice, and provide you with a place to vent your frustrations with your new life.

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Can Fibromyalgia be Cured?

Sadly, for the time being, there is no known cure for fibromyalgia. Thankfully though, research into this complex illness continues.

Some recent studies published in Scientific Reports, details a study of something referred to as explosive synchronization (ES) in human brain data, and this may give insight into the cause of chronic pain disorders, such as fibromyalgia.

“For the first time, this research shows that the hypersensitivity experienced by chronic pain patients may result from hypersensitive brain networks,” according to Richard Harris, Ph.D., associate professor of anesthesiology at Michigan Medicine with the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center. “The subjects had conditions similar to other networks that undergo explosive synchronization.”

In ES, a small stimulus can lead to a coordinated reaction within the network, similar to the reaction of a power grid failure, which rapidly turns things off, or that of a seizure, which rapidly turns things on. This is thought to be a promising lead to a better understanding of how a person develops fibromyalgia.

“As opposed to the normal process of gradually linking up different centers in the brain after a stimulus, chronic pain patients have conditions that predispose them to linking up in an abrupt, explosive manner,” says UnCheol Lee, Ph.D., a physicist and assistant professor of anesthesiology at Michigan Medicine.

Researchers recorded the electrical activity in the brains of 10 females with fibromyalgia. Results showed hypersensitive and unstable brain networks. They also found a strong correlation between the degree of ES conditions and the self-reported intensity of chronic pain that the patients reported during the EEG testings.

After using computer models of brain activity to compare the responses of fibromyalgia patients to the normal condition, researchers discovered that the fibromyalgia model was more sensitive to electrical stimulation than the model without ES characteristics.

What does all of this mean? It could potentially help guide future treatments for fibromyalgia!

Learning to Live With Fibromyalgia

Life with fibromyalgia is undoubtedly a challenge, and it would be dishonest to pretend otherwise. But there are ways to reduce the hold that fibromyalgia has over your life.

I have found balance to be crucial in living with fibromyalgia. There needs to be balance between accepting this illness and holding onto hope of finding relief. There needs to be balance between activity and rest. There needs to be balance between being realistic and having a positive outlook. There needs to be balance in taking care of your health and caring for your family and friends.

Life with fibromyalgia is like a whole new world for many people. It requires a new way of thinking and doing things. This does not automatically have to be a bad thing though. A change in focus and perspective can be positive.

Dwelling on the negative aspects of fibromyalgia, on the past, or on how much better it seems others have it, will not help you any. That is not to say thinking positive thoughts will cure you, it won’t, but it can make coping with your new circumstances easier. A joyful outlook can also improve your mood and reduce stress.

Receiving the diagnosis of fibromyalgia can be alarming. It will do you well to remember that there are ways to cope and that you are never alone. There are millions of warriors around the world are successfully living their lives with fibromyalgia and you can too!

Resources

Mayo Clinic (Fibromyalgia – Overview)

Mayo Clinic (Fibromyalgia: Understand the diagnosis process)

Science Daily (Does an exploding brain network cause chronic pain?)

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Coping With Fibromyalgia

12 Coping Tips for Managing Fibromyalgia Fatigue, Pain and Stress

Living with fibromyalgia can be difficult and emotional. Starla shares her top tips for coping with fibromyalgia both physically and emotionally.
by Starla Rich on December 7, 2017
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