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There are no less than thirty- nine signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a complex syndrome encompassing the body, mind, and emotions.
Fibromyalgia, or Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS), is a chronic medical condition that could be possibly summed up in two words: “pain everywhere.”
Fibromyalgia sufferers endure daily a level of pain so intense that it hurts to be touched. This constant battle with pain results in a long cascade of accompanying symptoms and signs of fibromyalgia.
Because the complex signs and symptoms are not just related to pain, the simple terms “fibro-, ” meaning fiber or fibrous tissue, and “myalgia,” meaning non- specific muscle pain, only describe a portion of the entire fibromyalgia picture.
Both the National Institutes of Health and the American College of Rheumatology recognize fibromyalgia as a complex disease which involves the physical body, brain chemistry, mental function, and psycho- emotional health.
Despite this recognition, many medical doctors still refuse to treat fibromyalgia because they cannot find anything clinically wrong with the patient during the physical examination.
The American College of Rheumatology estimates that from 2-4% of the adult population in the world have fibromyalgia. Of these, women experience fibromyalgia signs and symptoms more than men in a nine to one ratio.
Web MD lists the following thirty- nine signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia. Not every person experiencing fibromyalgia will manifest every symptom. However, the most common symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
In 2007, researchers in the Department of Medicine at Soroka Medica Center in Beer Sheva, Israel linked fibromyalgia to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and stated the two medical conditions shared very common signs and symptoms.
The researchers recommended that anyone treating patients for fibromyalgia must address not only the physical symptoms of the disease, but the emotional signs, as well.
A medical study published in The Neuroscientist in 2008 showed that the brains in fibromyalgia patients show alterations in brain chemistry and structure.
There is strong evidence that fibromyalgia sufferers perceive common stimuli such as noise levels, odors and normal pain thresholds completely differently than healthy individuals.
The neurotransmitters, the parts of the cell which transmit signals to the brain, send very low- level messages to the brain for peace, safety, happiness, and a sense of calm. These neurotransmitters also send very high levels of pain messages to the brain.
This particular study suggested that the alterations in the brain seen in fibromyalgia did not originate in the brain.
Instead, the scientists believe that fibromyalgia is due to psychological trauma which occurred either during childhood or either prolonged or severe stress during adulthood.
One of the primary signs of fibromyalgia is not getting enough sleep at night.
Electroencephalogram (EEG) tests have shown that fibromyalgia sufferers do not get enough “deep sleep,” where the brain emits slow delta wave patterns. Without “delta” sleep, a person never wakes up feeling refreshed.
Although fibromyalgia patients complain of widespread pain, doctors cannot find a source of the pain on medical examination. This often causes doctors and uninformed loved ones to state that the disease is “all in the head.”
Actually, there are central nervous system abnormalities present in the body and brain of people with fibromyalgia.
Every person experiences a feeling of anxiety and tension when he knows he is about to experience pain. This anticipation, fear, or “flinching” is called “wind up.”
In a fibromyalgia patient, “wind up” goes to extreme levels. Then when the fibromyalgia patient does feel the pain, he experiences the pain in his mind with twice to three times the intensity of a healthy person.
Problems with low blood sugar levels, adrenal fatigue, thyroid malfunction, and other issues with the endocrine system may all be fibromyalgia symptoms.
Scientists in the Department of Rheumatology at the University of Giessen in Bad Nauheim, Germany believe these symptoms are due to long term chronic stress.
The “fight or flight” signal is left “on” constantly, which disrupts the normal function of the pituitary and adrenal glands. This eventually inhibits the normal function of other glands and hormones.
Another definitive sign of fibromyalgia is a hyperactive sympathetic nervous system. The adrenals are so fatigued from hyperactivity that they barely respond to stressors like physical exercise and mental stress.
Although physically exhausted, people with fibromyalgia have a difficult time “turning their brains off” at night.
When a sample of spinal fluid is taken from patients with fibromyalgia, a very common result is low levels of the brain chemicals serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, and high levels of endorphins and enkephalins.
Serotonin, noepinephrine, and dopamine are neurotransmitters. Low levels of these neurotransmitters are indicative of major depression. Included in the clinical picture of depression are feelings of sadness, guilt, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts.
The “fibro fog,” insomnia, and severe fatigue experienced in fibromyalgia are all related to the lower levels of these three neurotransmitters.
There are also increases in excitatory amino acids, which show up in the body as pain signals.
Brain images of patients with fibromyalgia have shown decreased blood flow to the brain, abnormal responses to pain, abnormal levels of neurotransmitters, and an acceleration and progression of brain atrophy. The brain in a person with fibromyalgia ages faster and grows smaller at ten times the rate of a healthy individual.
Web MD.com, “Symptoms of Fibromyalgia”
Free Dictionary.com, “Fibro-”
Free Dictionary.com, “Myalgia”
Pubmed.gov, Current Pain and Headache Reports. 2007 Oct;11(5):333-8. "Comorbidity of fibromyalgia and psychiatric disorders." Buskila D and Cohen H.
Pubmed.gov, Neuroscientist. 2008 Oct;14(5):415-21. "Fibromyalgia: a disorder of the brain?" Schweinhardt P, Sauro KM, et al.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. National Institutes of Health.gov, “Questions and Answers About Fibromyalgia”
Pubmed.gov, Pain. 2001 Mar;91(1-2):165-75. "Abnormal sensitization and temporal summation of second pain (wind-up) in patients with fibromyalgia syndrome." Staud R, Vierck CJ, et al.
Pubmed.gov, Rheumatic Diseases Clinics of North America. 2000 Nov;26(4):989-1002. "Neuroendocrine perturbations in fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome." Neeck G and Crofford LJ.
Pubmed.gov, Arthritis and Rheumatism. 1992 May;35(5):550-6. "Cerebrospinal fluid biogenic amine metabolites in fibromyalgia/fibrositis syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis." Russell IJ, Vaeroy H, et al.
Pubmed.gov, Journal of Neuroscience. 2007 Apr 11;27(15):4004-7. "Accelerated brain gray matter loss in fibromyalgia patients: premature aging of the brain?" Kuchinad A, Schweinhardt P, et al.
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If you are experiencing the discomforts of pain and tenderness, Anatrin is a fibromyalgia remedy designed to provide energy while also helping to reduce pain and fatigue.