Understanding Fibromyalgia: The Basics

Happy Fibromyalgia Awareness Day!

I have been wanting to do this little series for a while, but to be completely honest, its something I’m a little insecure talking about. However, today seemed like the perfect time to shake off those insecurities because I feel like this is an important subject. Not just for people with FM, but for everyone, chronic disorders are surprisingly common but rarely talked about.

Fibromyalgia-noun

fi·bro·my·al·gia | \ ˌfī-ˌbrō-ˌmī-ˈal-j(ē)ə \

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a medical condition characterized by widespread chronic pain and heightened pain response to pressure.

I was diagnosed a little over two years ago, after many years of chronic pain, tests, and trying different medications and treatments. It was pretty much a self-diagnosis after tons of research and talking to other people with invisible. I took what I learned to my doctor and asked what she thought. 

As nothing wrong ever showed up on blood tests, CT scans X rays and spinal taps. I had the majority of the classic symptoms, she agreed that it was a good possibility. As I had all 18 of the key tender points that were used test for FM, it seemed that we finally had our answer!

I think what took us so long to get there was my search for a cure for my chronic migraines. Beliving that my headaches were the most significant problem and ignoring the rest because they were always there. Anyone who has had a migraine before knows that they will not be ignored. Learning to treat them as a symptom and not as a cause has been a game-changer. 

When I was diagnosed, I was lead to believe that it is was an autoimmune or musculoskeletal disease. Further studies have now shown, it is, in fact, a neurological disorder. It affects a person’s sensory processing system. From what I have read, FM does not involve inflammation or damaged joints and isn’t usually brought on by physical trauma. Brain imaging and studies have shown that fibromyalgia is a disorder of the central  The brain and spinal cord in people with fibromyalgia process pain signal differently than in other people so that they have heightened sensitivity to pain.”

What does fibromyalgia feel like?

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer; it changes from day to day and even multiple times in a single day. The 

Here is a list of symptoms based on personal experience, research, and talking to other people living with FM.

  • Fatigue 
  • Pain and pressure points
  • Sleep problems
  • Concentration and memory problems, known as “fibro fog.”
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression
  • Morning stiffness
  • Numbness, and tingling in hands, arms, feet, and legs
  • Headaches
  • Photophobia/ Painful Light Sensitivity
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Painful menstrual cycle.
  • Sensory Overload
  • Post-exertional Malaise
  • Temperature sensitivity 
  • Food sensitivity 
  • Hypervigilance
  • Hyperesthesia
  • Sensitivity to Changes in barometric pressure
  • Scarring easily 
  • Slow healing

What a list! Thankfully they are not all at once, every single day, and not everyone has all of them. Personally, I don’t suffer from IBS or depression. Still, I would say I have at least seven to ten of these symptoms on a daily basis.

 In this series, I will be talking about a bunch of these symptoms more in-depth. Also, Fibro Flares, the Spoon theory, and some of the things that help me cope.

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