Fibromyalgia and its widespread pain, chronic fatigue, and cognitive challenges once stumped patients and doctors alike, but ongoing research has shed light on this mysterious condition in recent years.
While the cause is still largely unknown, many researchers point to repetitive nerve stimulation, which triggers changes in the brain and spinal cord. Genetics, infections, trauma, and psychological stress can all lead to these changes. As a result, your brain can develop an overactive response to pain and even develop pain memory.
Fibromyalgia symptoms can limit your ability to carry out normal daily activities, interfere with sleep quality, cause headaches, and lead to mental health disorders. Although there’s no known cure for fibromyalgia, Dr. Stanley Mathew at American Rehabilitation Center in Cedar Rapids and Dubuque, Iowa can help you find relief from your symptoms so you can live an active and productive life despite your condition.
Here, he takes a closer look at the lesser-known facts about fibromyalgia to give you a better understanding of the disorder.
Fibromyalgia affects millions
In the United States alone, about 10 million people suffer from fibromyalgia, and up to 90% of them are women. Unfortunately, many of those who have fibromyalgia don’t realize it, and they go undiagnosed for years. Because the symptoms often mimic other conditions, many doctors misdiagnose fibromyalgia. But Dr. Mathew has extensive experience and can get you started on appropriate treatments right away.
Fibromyalgia affects your digestion
An estimated 50% of people with fibromyalgia also have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a functional disorder that may lead to constipation, abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, and gas. If you have unexplained digestive issues, it may be a sign of fibromyalgia, so make sure you mention it to Dr. Mathew.
Fibromyalgia may cause excessive perspiration
Fibromyalgia causes your nervous system to malfunction, so it’s no surprise that it leads to hypersensitivity to heat. Some people with fibromyalgia begin to sweat when the temperature rises slightly, and others perspire for seemingly no reason at all.
Anxiety related to fibromyalgia symptoms may also contribute to excessive sweating.
Fibromyalgia may be linked to vitamin D deficiency
Researchers have noted for years that there’s a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and fibromyalgia, but it’s not yet clear whether the lack of vitamin D causes or results from fibromyalgia. Some studies show that low vitamin D may be associated with more severe trigger point pain, and therefore, supplements may be an important part of your treatment.
Fibromyalgia heightens your senses
Fibromyalgia is characterized by a heightened sense of pain, but your other senses may become more acute as well. Many people with fibromyalgia notice extreme sensitivity to smells, sounds, light, and touch.
Fibromyalgia affects your mental health
Inability to concentrate, one of the classic fibromyalgia symptoms, has earned its own nickname — fibro fog. But it’s not just cloudy thinking; fibro fog also includes difficulty with organizational tasks, memory problems, and even depression and anxiety.
If you’ve had widespread pain for at least three months, there’s a good chance it’s fibromyalgia. Dr. Mathew runs diagnostic tests to rule out other conditions. If he diagnoses fibromyalgia, he develops a treatment plant to address your unique set of symptoms.
For pain, he may recommend trigger point injections, which contain a local anesthetic for quick relief and a corticosteroid for longer-lasting relief.
Dr. Mathew may also determine that you’re a good candidate for Botox® to relax overactive muscle tissue and alleviate tension and pain.
Our team at American Rehabilitation Center also offers physical therapy to help you overcome the chronic pain and disability of fibromyalgia, and psychological counseling to help you counteract fibro fog, depression, and anxiety.
If you’re living with fibromyalgia, schedule a consultation with Dr. Mathew to find out how you can experience a fuller, less painful life. Call our friendly staff at either location today, or request an appointment using our online booking tool.