What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a common, chronic neurological disorder defined by pain and tenderness all over the body. Patients with fibromyalgia tend to experience fatigue, a heightened sense of pain, difficulty sleeping, and worsened mood. It affects between two and four percent of the population, and roughly four times as many women as men.
The causes of fibromyalgia remain unconfirmed, and it’s believed that they may vary from case to case. However, doctors and scientists have been able to identify a number of risk factors. First, fibromyalgia is known to run in families, and can be triggered by spine problems, arthritis, emotional stress, or injury.
Second, it’s been established that fibromyalgia is directly caused by a change in the way the body communicates with the spinal cord and brain; because of this, fibromyalgia patients experience pain more intensely. While the condition can negatively impact quality of life, it is not progressive. In other words, the condition does not gradually intensify or worsen over time in the way that, for example, primary progressive multiple sclerosis does. Nor is it known to directly result in heart attacks, stroke, or cancer.
Source: American College of Rheumatology
What causes fibromyalgia?
Research has identified several risk factors. Abnormalities in the brain’s pain receptors are thought to contribute to the heightened pain sensations experienced by patients with fibromyalgia. Irregular levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, which help the body process pain, may also play a role.
For some individuals, the condition doesn’t emerge until after they experience an emotional or physical trauma, such as a serious injury, surgery, or traumatic life event.
Several factors are known to increase the risk of developing fibromyalgia — these include sleep disorders, depression, and rheumatic diseases. Women are also much more likely to develop the condition than men.
The most common causes of fibromyalgia include:
- Abnormal pain signaling
- An emotional or physical trauma
- A pre-existing rheumatic condition
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across the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Orange County
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