What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia's primary symptom is the presence of chronic, dull muscular pain in the muscles, usually above the waist though it can occur anywhere in the body. In addition, these painful areas are sensitive to touch, where even slight pressure can trigger acute pain.
A number of symptoms often go along with fibromyalgia, the most notable being fatigue. In addition, someone with fibromyalgia may suffer from anxiety, depression, headaches, TMJ, memory issues and irritable bowel syndrome.
The cause of fibromyalgia is so far unknown. Some suspect there may be an autoimmune factor involved, although no evidence has shown this yet. There is a correlation with hormonal and neurotransmitter changes in the body, and it is suspected that people with fibromyalgia have an increase in the neurotransmitters that signal pain in the body, leaving a person hypersensitive to pain.
While fibromyalgia often comes on without any specific reason, it can be triggered by physical trauma, infection, or psychological stress. There is a reason to suspect that underlining factors may be involved in fibromyalgia, including long term buildup of stress or tension, fatigue, or unaddressed mental / emotional issues.
The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, which makes it a difficult condition to successfully treat. Conventional medicine focuses on treating the symptoms with pain relievers, anti-depressants, or anti-seizure medicines, which can help improve some of the symptoms but rarely offer full recovery from the condition.
Because of this, it is important to take an active role in successfully dealing with fibromyalgia. Basic things you can do independently to decrease symptoms include:
- Exercise and stretching: Both of these activities may make the pain worse at first, but over time, strengthening and stretching the affected muscles can help relieve tension and decrease their sensitivity to pain. It is important to start slowly, and not push your muscles too far, as pain from any sort of muscular damage will compound the pain.
- Sleep: People with fibromyalgia may have a difficult time getting restful sleep, and find that even though they are sleeping a lot, they may not feel rested in the morning. Still, it is important to get enough sleep as this is the body's chance to replenish its energy and is a natural part of the recovery process.
- Maintain a healthy weight: There is a correlation between worsening symptoms of fibromyalgia and being overweight. Eating a healthy diet, and avoiding eating triggered by stress or depression can help improve the overall health of your body and reduce pain.
Stress is also a well-known factor that is correlated with fibromyalgia. People with the condition will often find that their pain and other symptoms worsen during times of increased stress, and improve when life is going more smoothly.
For this reason, dealing with stress on a day-to-day basis can be a great way to help reduce the pain of fibromyalgia. While it is not possible to completely get rid of stress, you can do some simple things to make it easier to relax through the day. Taking breaks from stressful situations like work or home responsibilities, going for a walk, taking some time for yourself, remembering to breathe, doing something you enjoy – these or anything else you come up with to relax and reduce stress will go a long way in improving fibromyalgia if done on a regular basis. It is easy for stress to compound itself if left unchecked – this is something to avoid.
Potential Mind-Body Connection in Fibromyalgia
It is possible that at least in part, the cause of fibromyalgia is related to suppressed anger. It is already well known that unexpressed anger can lead to ongoing anxiety and depression, which are common symptoms that accompaniment fibromyalgia. Stress and tension are also symptoms related to frustration, and can consume a ton of energy which will increase fatigue. In addition, the difficulties in concentration, TMJ and digestive issues that are associated with fibromyalgia can also be related to suppressed anger.
Consider that fibromyalgia often comes on after traumatic physical or psychological experiences – this type of experience naturally will produce a feeling of anger, as in the question, “Why did this happen to me?” But there is a tendency to want to forget painful experiences, and mentally suppress the feelings associated with that experience, whether the experience is a one-time thing or an accumulation of difficult experiences in life.
In addition, fibromyalgia affects women more than men. That is not to say that women are naturally predisposed to suppress anger than men, however society definitely does place more pressure not to be angry on women, than it does on men.
The symptom of pain may be representing the unexpressed anger being internalized and taken out on the physical body. If you are suffering from fibromyalgia and suspect this may relate to you, it is important to address the source of your anger so that it can be expressed and directed appropriately, rather than back towards yourself. Even deep-seated difficulty or traumatic experiences can be moved from, and are not meant to be your responsibility or a burden for you to carry through your life.
Natural Medicines and Treatments for Fibromyalgia
- Adaptogens: These herbal medicines help strengthen the adrenal glands which are involved in improving energy, can improve certain neurotransmitter levels involved in mood, and can help reduce excess stress hormones like cortisol which can disrupt a number of the body's physical processes. Examples of these kinds of medicines are ginseng, eleutherococcus, holy basil, rhodiola, cordyceps, and ashwaghanda.
- Massage: A massage tailored to your personal tolerance level can help reduce muscular tension and alleviate pain.
- Acupuncture: Some people report a benefit from acupuncture, a Chinese medicinal practice involved in placing small needles along specific meridians, aimed at releasing blocked energy, improving circulation and other physical processes. While this type of treatment may not work for everyone, it is worth considering.
Fibromyalgia can be a very frustrating condition to deal with, but taking an active role in doing daily things for your health can help improve the symptoms over time. Addressing stress and other potential mental or emotional components that may be associated with the condition, as well as incorporating natural medicines or treatments can also be of help. With patience and consistency, it is possible to fully recover from fibromyalgia over time.