What is Fibromyalgia

Fibro Active

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia (FM or Fibro) symptoms are part of a syndrome of symptoms that are common and overlap other illnesses including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)/ME, Depression and Anxiety, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Irlen Syndrome, MS, Raynaud’s and many more. Sometimes it can be difficult to identify one illness from another.

Fibro is only one part of an extended list of concurring symptoms that occur in the syndrome, but also has an extended list of symptoms that often coincide with one another.

What causes Fibromyalgia?

Sadly, the cause of Fibro is still unknown which means there is no cure. However, it is estimated that it effects 1 in 25 of us around the world with 80 to 90% of sufferers being women and to make it more complicated we all suffer differently, so what medication might work for one may not for another.

Fibro Active do not promote the use of medication for Fibromyalgia and are not GP’s therefore unable to recommend medication especially with the complications of side effects, taking meds for other conditions and we all react differently. You should never take another person’s medication and always consult your GP before you try any promising ‘miracle cure!’ That being said Fibro Active do have a team of specialists that can help you manage your pain and symptoms using gentle exercise, nutrition and lifestyle advice and emotional support.

This is not a new illness!

Although Fibro was only recognised as a real chronic illness in 1990, it has been noted by various well-known people. Ironically by Hippocrates over 2000 years ago but also Florence Nightingale, a local Derbyshire nurse, whose birthday we celebrate as International Fibromyalgia Awareness Day on May 12 th . More recently well-known faces have included: Morgan Freeman and Sinead O’Connor along with Lady Gaga.

Fibromyalgia is now a recognised illness

Moreover, after all these years of sufferers being told it was in our heads. Fibromyalgia was officially recognised on October 1st, 2015 and now has an official diagnosis code M79.7. Still to this day some older medical practitioner’s do believe it is all in our heads. It is advisable if you have this experience to see a younger doctor who would have been taught about this in their training.

How do people get Fibromyalgia?

The main two causes have been narrowed down to a viral infection such as glandular fever, mumps and campylobacter or a trauma this could be an accident, an operation, childbirth, the death of a loved one or long term chronic stress. It is also recognised that it is hereditary so there is a great possibility you may be able to trace it up the line if you started with symptoms as a child.

Although many sufferers have been able to trace symptoms back to their childhood, diagnosis for many wasn’t until their 30’s or 40’s. Remember being told you have growing pains? Now you are 35 and you keep telling yourself you have growing pains!

How is Fibromyalgia diagnosed?

There are limited ways to be diagnosed as blood tests would come back normal apart from in some cases Vitamin D would be low. Symptoms in the initial stages can be adhock so you wouldn’t necessarily link them together. Wide spread pain for 3 months or more is a key indicator and GP’s use Tender Points to help them diagnose. There are 18 Tender Points around the body. They are areas on your body that feel sensitive and bruised like you have banged into something and has left you with an invisible bruise.

Tender Points

Trigger Points

Trigger points are not to be confused with tender points. Common areas of trigger points include the head and back of the neck, the main joints of the legs and under the feet.

Trigger points are primarily due to myofascial constriction. Chronic myofascial pain (CMP), also called myofascial pain syndrome, is a painful condition that affects the muscles and the sheath of the tissue called the fascia that surround the muscles. CMP can involve a single muscle or a group of muscles. Trigger points occur over many areas of the body and often in layers.

What is a Flare?

A Flare is an increase in severity of your normal daily coping symptoms. This can happen through a change in the weather, exceeding your limitations, illness such as cold or flu, shock or even a change of routine.

10 Things that Contribute to Fibro Flare

  1. Weather Changes
  2. Over-exertion
  3. Stress
  4. Illness or injury
  5. Hormonal changes
  6. Temperature changes
  7. Lack of or changes in sleep routine
  8. Treakment changes
  9. Travelling
  10. Individual sensitivies

What are limitations?

Limitations are the basic measurement of capability your body can cope with before it flares up. Some people can cope with going to work 5 days a week and walk 5 miles every day, whereas others may cope with just getting out of bed. Identifying and understanding why your body flares up is a big step towards being able to manage your symptoms.

Fibro Tip:

Know your limits. 

Recognize when your strength is fading and take a break before you hit the wall.

Managing your symptoms

Before proceeding it is essential to make sure you are ready for this! It’s all about where you are at and how you approach this.

There are two ways you can manage your symptoms and these methods subsequently rely heavily on your focused perspective.

The first way is to become consumed in depression and absorbed in self-pity, refusing to let yourself have any quality of life, by living in a negative bubble where you are always in chronic pain with a can’t do attitude. Having a good moan does not improve your symptoms it just solidifies them!
You can embrace a new life with fibro and accept that you have this illness. It doesn’t happen overnight but by learning to understand it, is like putting the pieces of a puzzle together. ‘Oh, so that’s why I feel like that’ or ‘that’s why that happened’, will put you in a better place and as you will learn later the lower the mood the greater the symptoms.

We call it PFA – Positive Fibro Attitude!

Give yourself the best quality of life you can have under the circumstances by adapting your lifestyle and reducing your stress. It’s not about fighting the illness it’s about managing it, planning, accepting that a flare day is a recovery day not a setback, understanding the consequences of exceeding your limitations, it’s bite sized steps tiptoeing along so that you don’t awake the ‘alien’ inside you.

The choice is yours!

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

With over 200 different symptoms, we have grouped together the most frequently reported by individuals suffering with Fibro.

If you’d like to learn more, go to our Symptoms of Fibromyalgia page.