What does Fibromyalgia feel like? Or should I really be asking, what doesn’t it feel like? Fibromyalgia sufferers seem to suffer from pain in just about every place imaginable as well as suffering from a whole range of side-effects resulting from all-over body pain.
Does this sound similar to your life?…
And there I find myself once more, lying in bed again, missing yet another morning of work (contemplating when they’ll fire me due to so many days off sick) due to those “flu-like”, “coming down with something” type symptoms that I’m becoming all too familiar with. I know dragging myself to work however, is almost futile as my concentration is almost non-existent due to feeling so achey, tired and generally very “blah”! My limbs just don’t want to do anything; every time I move them an inch they ache…it really is just like pre-flu which is almost worse than the actual thing.
Yet what’s funny (well, it’s not that funny), is nothing is inflamed or specifically damaged. Another ‘not very funny’ thing is that I actually look perfectly healthy and when the doctor sends me for blood tests…surprise…all come back negative. He just puts it down to stress and encourages exercise to boost my energy levels. Another doctor says the same; another prescribes anti-depressants making me feel more tired. What’s strange is that this comes and goes very randomly without pattern or warning. The following day can be as if the previous never happened…or worse.
The cause of this elusive disease is unknown. The main symptom is severe muscle pain, stiffness and tenderness however, the painful tissues involved are not accompanied by tissue inflammation. Therefore, despite disabling body pain, patients do not develop body damage or deformity. Fibromyalgia also does not cause damage to internal body organs. In addition to the pain, a patient can feel fatigue, headaches, insomnia, swollen lymph nodes, irritable bowel syndrome and depression; often resulting from experiencing so much pain so regularly.
So what is going on with this phenomenon? As mentioned, the cause is unknown, however there have been some fascinating findings.
Researchers have discovered that those affected, experience pain in response to stimuli that are not normally perceived as painful. Elevated levels of a nerve chemical, called substance P, and nerve growth have been found in the spinal fluid of fibromyalgia patients. Levels of the brain chemical serotonin are also relatively low in patients with fibromyalgia. Studies of pain in these patients have suggested that the central nervous system may be somehow supersensitive. Scientists note that there seems to be a general disturbance of pain perception in patients with fibromyalgia.
Also, patients with fibromyalgia have an impaired non-Rapid-Eye-Movement (non-REM) sleep phase, which likely explains the common feature of waking up fatigued and unrefreshed in these patients as it’s the non-REM state which is the deeper, refreshing sleep.
In addition to pain relieving drugs, there are a number of suggested treatments for fibromyalgia. Low intensity exercise is seen as very useful. Stress reduction techniques and acupuncture have also been known to help as have vitamins and dietary supplements. An excellent drug free alternative is TENS. TENS is a non-invasive, drug-free method of pain relief. Pads are placed on or near the area of pain. The unit is switched on, soothing pulses are sent via the pads through the skin, along the nerve fibres and to the brain. These pulses stop the pain signals going to the brain. TENS machine also encourages the body to produce higher levels of its own natural pain killing chemicals called Endorphins and Encephalins. The treatment can be taken during rest or daily activities. It’s a one time buy and the more you use it the better the pain relief.
Share your Fibromyalgia experiences and any you have had with pain relief especially TENS machine.