Fibromyalgia: causes, symptoms and treatments
A caress, a simple touch, move or simply do nothing are things that most people find pleasant and pleasant. We usually enjoy the sensations that our body transmits to us, unless they cause us some kind of discomfort or pain .
However, this exception is the norm for many people who feel pain chronically in most of their body without there being any clear disease that causes it. These are people who suffer from fibromyalgia .
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What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a known disease that is characterized mainly by the presence of a constant Musculoskeletal pain distributed throughout the body . This pain is diffuse and non-specific and lasts more than three months of persistence.
It also highlights a hypersensitization of different points of the organism, called trigger points, in which there is usually hyperalgesia. The threshold is decreased from which a perception becomes painful , so that the slightest touch on these points can trigger sensations of great pain.
It has been seen that Often these people suffer from symptoms of depression and anxiety , symptoms that may be a consequence of the chronicity of their condition and the lack of knowledge of the causes of their condition. However, it has also been indicated that their presence may be part of the symptoms of the disorder. They tend to suffer from sleep problems such as insomnia of conciliation or frequent awakenings, which in turn facilitates their discomfort and fatigue.
It is also not uncommon for muscle stiffness to appear in the form of cramps, seizures and even tremors. It is also common for those who suffer from fibromyalgia tend to fatigue with great ease without having to make much effort for it. Sometimes these symptoms are added to the presence of other disorders , but these do not explain the generalized pain.
The medical analysis of the patients does not reflect any indication of alterations or injuries that may cause pain. In fact, for many years it has come to be considered a somatomorphic disease , given that there are no signs of real injuries even though the suffering and perceived pain are real. However, today it is considered a rheumatic disease. It is more frequent in women than in men.
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Causes of this disorder
Fibromyalgia is a disorder for which even today they do not know the exact causes, not having been located in this disease no specific injury that can generate widespread pain .
However, the investigations carried out point to a malfunction in the transmission of serotonin and substance P, which is altered in many of these patients. Specifically, a decrease in serotonin levels has been detected while there is an increase in substance P (the latter is highly involved in the perception of pain).
The altered levels of these substances could cause a abnormal reaction of nervous circuits and the pathways linked to the sensation of pain, causing the organism to interpret different sensations as painful.
In addition, it has been considered that it may be due to aspects such as sensitivity to nickel or gluten (although without reaching intolerance), but there is still not enough data about it.
It has also been considered that the presence of stressful and / or traumatic events can contribute to the beginning of the disorder and to its maintenance, especially when taking into account that it is frequent to be present together with alterations in mood or anxiety . This, as we have indicated previously, may be due to the patient feeling helpless and desperate because he can not give an explanation to his condition.
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Treatment of fibromyalgia
Due to the definitive lack of knowledge of the causes of fibromyalgia, the treatment that is usually applied focuses on alleviating its symptoms and improving the quality of life of the patient from a multidisciplinary perspective.
At the pharmacological level, they have been applied hypnotic-sedatives such as benzodiazepines, antidepressants and anticonvulsants with the purpose of reducing fatigue, possible muscle spasms and depressive and anxious symptoms.
They are also commonly used analgesics and anti-inflammatories in order to try to reduce the level of perceived pain.
At the psychological level, it is recommended to use multimodal programs that take into account a large number of essential factors to improve the state of the subject in question.
Within these programs, the use of relaxation, meditation and biofeedback strategies in order to try to reduce the intensity of the pain and have greater capacity to manage it. Physical exercise has proven useful in the treatment, especially those of aerobic type that are performed in the water.
Necessary that the patient is able to express their feelings and fears as well as working on these and feelings of helplessness that may have, so that the subject self-perpetrated as more competent and able to control the situation.
It also helps that the patient try to give meaning to the pain and reinterpret it , looking for that is able to establish different strategies that allow him to confront the disorder.
Psychoeducation for the patient and his environment It is also fundamental, as it is reassuring to receive information about the problem in question (we must bear in mind that most of the subjects do not know what is happening to them) and strategies to apply in order to reduce it. In addition, the fact that there are no injuries can lead the environment to think that the person may be simulating a disorder.
- Clariana, S.M. and De los Riós, P. (2012). Health Psychology. CEDE Preparation Manual PIR. CEDE: Madrid.
- Smith, H.S .; Harris, R. & Claw, D. (2011). Fibromyalgia: An Afferent Processing Disorder Leading to Complex Pain Generalized Syndrome. Pain Physician; 14