What causes fibromyalgia, and can it be cured?
Female, 37, recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I have been experiencing constant pain and extreme fatigue since 1 year ago. Need 7 shots of espresso each morning to function. What causes fibromyalgia, and how can fibromyalgia be treated or cured? Will it go away by itself?
Ms Lin Xiao Yan has provided an excellent answer already and I’ll try to add to this.
Fibromyalgia is certainly a complex condition and we are uncertain what triggers it. There were some thoughts that a viral infection could be the trigger but it’s probably more complex than this alone.
Often outwardly you seem completely “normal” but I can assure you that your symptoms are not a figment of your imagination. As Ms Lin mentions, one’s pain threshold can be altered in FM and as a result things that were not previously so serious can become much more significant.
In this regard, one of the important things to consider is the psychological impact of FM. Having pain on a regular basis can lead to low mood and difficulty managing this - even if you have never experienced it before.
Thus while it is important to seek methods of managing the physical pain, through exercise/TCM/medication and other methods, it is essential that this other area is not ignored. Engaging a psychologist or psychotherapist is a good option in the overall treatment of FM.
Exercise is very important in FM and while it sounds counter intuitive, getting out and walking even for a few minutes is important. You can then gradually build up on the time that’s achieved - but do note that some days you might it be able to do as much as others. This is ok too.
FM is usually diagnosed after other medical issues are excluded, such as inflammatory arthritis, vitamin D deficiency and so forth. Clinicians need to have patience when helping those with FM as often the symptoms can be subtle.
Good luck with your symptoms and I hope this adds to the advice from Ms Lim.
Hi A, currently the exact mechanism that leads to fibromyalgia is yet to be elucidated.
The main symptoms associated with fibromyalgia include chronic extensive pain all over the body for more than 3 months accompanied with extreme fatigue, sleeping disorder, cognitive dysfunction, headache, irritable bowel syndrome etc.
People with fibromyalgia might have a lower pain threshold as a consequence of augmented reactivity of pain-sensitive nerve cells in the spinal cord or brain. Researchers have discovered that fibromyalgia is also associated with low levels of the hormones that comprises of serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine in their brains.
It is widely believed that fibromyalgia could be attributed to multiple factors that include psychological stress trauma, depression, anxiety disorder, unhealthy lifestyles especially irregular sleep habit, after giving birth, post operation, injuries, genetic inheritance and certain infections etc.
There is presently no cure for fibromyalgia however there are treatments typically devised to relieve symptoms. Fibromyalgia symptoms can be eased through medications, effective lifestyle changes and stress relief.
Medications that help to alleviate pain, improve sleep and energy level and treat depression etc.
It has been shown that adopting a routine exercise habit helps to effectively alleviate fibromyalgia.
You can start with simple exercise such as 10 minutes of walk or swim to gradually increase the duration and intensity of the exercise according to your strength.
Try to stay away from caffeine as it affects your sleep and it has been reported that consuming too much caffeinated drinks typically more than 3 cups is related to aggravated body ache issues in fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia in TCM is classified under “Bi”-syndrome which means pain-syndrome.
We believe that internal body weakness is the underlying factor for fibromyalgia. Internal body weakness could be a consequence of inborn weak body constitution, unhealthy lifestyles, prolong emotional stimulation, natural degenerative process, recovery from ailments or after giving birth and over exhaustion.
Typically dysfunction in the liver, spleen and the kidney systems account for imbalances of the Qi, blood, Yin and Yang in our body and this leads to poor defense. As such our body is therefore susceptible to exogenous causative factors such as wind, cold, dampness and heat. These causative factors act in our body that lead to blockage of meridians which further weaken our body subsequently.
We will diagnose the condition accordingly and might suggest treatments such as acupuncture, cupping, tuina and or TCM herbal prescriptions. For those with inferior constitution, our treatments will be more focused on building up the body through boosting Qi, blood, Yin and Yang accordingly. If the exogenous causative factors are the main issues then the treatment will be directed at eliminating them.
Our ultimate aim is to bring back the harmonious balance within the body that effectively helps to improve our defense to deter external causative factors and we are able to withstand challenges better.
Hopefully my explanation above helps.