Fibromyalgia is a connective tissue disorder that causes widespread muscle and joint pain and chronic exhaustion. Some sufferers also have a sleep disorder and many have irritable bowel syndrome.
Around half of people with fibromyalgia have chronic headaches or migraines and multiple sensitivity to chemicals and medications.
Women with fibromyalgia often have painful periods.
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia can occur after an immune system challenge, for instance, having a virus or bacterial illness or a vaccine. A study in Brain, a journal of neurology, found that 94 percent of human patients studied had developed myalgia, muscle pain and exhaustion after aluminium containing vaccines for Hepatitis A and B and tetanus. This effect was reproduced in rats.
It has also been known to occur after a head trauma (e.g. car accident). Other sorts of trauma reported to have triggered it are childbirth, surgery or a severe emotional distress.
It is thought to be, in part, an immune system disorder and a sensory processing disorder. Substance P – a pain neurotransmitter, has been found to be elevated in the spinal fluid of patients with fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia cannot be diagnosed by X-ray or joint aspiration like other arthritic-type conditions but will be diagnosed if you have been suffering from all over muscle pain and exhaustion for more than three months and you have pain in at least 11 out of 18 tendons that are pressed. The pain has to be widespread, over most, if not all, of your body.
Since up to 70 percent of fibromyalgia sufferers have sleeping difficulties, this is often the first thing that doctors look at. Many patients do not have deep, restorative sleep, making it hard for the body to repair itself and can lead to a reduction in vital chemicals in the brain such as serotonin and noradrenalin that in turn, skews nerve function.
You may be referred to a sleep clinic to see what they can do to improve your sleep patterns, as this on its own may reduce your pain significantly.