What is Fibromyalgia? Understanding the Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

fibromyalgia

Millions of people are affected by Fibromyalgia. It is a neurological chronic type of Arthritis that is known for its widespread musculoskeletal pain. Although this condition does not lead to damage to the joints and other parts of the body, it can be worrisome due to its symptoms that affect a person’s general well-being.

Causes of Fibromyalgia

A lot of theories have been formed about how Fibromyalgia forms. There are sources that say it develops as a result of hormonal disturbances or stress. Other theories, on the other hand, state that it is caused by a single event resulting from physical and emotional stressors.

Sudden trauma to the brain and the spinal cord is also believed to be one of the causes of Fibromyalgia.

Who are at Risk for Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia generally affects people who age between 25 to 60 years old. Research also says that women are mostly the ones who are at risk of developing this condition because they undergo hormonal changes and menopause which are related to the development of this condition. In some cases, family inheritance of the disease also plays a role.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

  1. Muscle spasms
  2. Muscle tightness
  3. Muscle pain
  4. Fatigue and decreased energy
  5. Anxiety
  6. Depression
  7. Numbness and tingling sensations
  8. Muscle pain after exercise
  9. Memory problems
  10. Sleeping difficulties

The symptoms associated with Fibromyalgia may worsen or lessen depending on the time of the day. It is noted that the pain intensifies in the morning, late afternoon, and at night. These symptoms may also become more intense when a person feels weakness in the body, depression, stress, tension, overexertion, hormonal changes, or when there are weather changes such as cold temperature.

Symptoms may also worsen if this condition is not diagnosed and treated at an early time. They may disappear over time but they may come again a few months after.

Treatment of Fibromyalgia

Because pain is the most prominent manifestation in Fibromyalgia, it is best to report this symptom to your physician the moment it arises so you can take a pain reliever. Nowadays, physicians do their best to give the most effective medications to treat the symptoms of Fibromyalgia. Such medications include pain relievers, anticonvulsants, narcolepsy medications, antidepressants, and sleep aides. These medications are known to reduce symptoms and relieve sleeping difficulties, depression, and anxiety.

Apart from medications, doing exercises also plays a very important role in treating Fibromyalgia. It is advisable that people with this condition involve themselves in swimming, walking, dancing, hiking, and any other types of aerobic exercises in order to strengthen their bones and muscles.

Another way to treat this condition is to get involved in Physical Therapy. Physical Therapy is noted to be very effective in relieving the symptoms caused by Fibromyalgia. It helps lessens stiffness and even eases fatigue. It also improves range of motion (ROM) and flexibility. Taking part in this activity means doing exercises and receiving therapeutic massages from physical therapists who resort to heat packs, ice, and other machines. In this treatment, you are expected to work closely with trained Physical therapists that design a specific treatment plan that best benefits your body’s condition.

The goal of physical therapy is for you to be independent when it comes to managing your condition. You are taught about ways on how to relieve your symptoms by doing proper exercises from time to time.

With these treatment methods, you will find relief from your symptoms. However, these symptoms tend to come back over time especially when you are exposed to a lot of stressors. In this case, you need to identify painful episodes and remember the ways that help you relieve and prevent them.

The 5 Types of Psoriatic Arthritis

Many people do not realize that there are other types of Arthritis besides Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. In fact, there is a type that affects people just the same and it is called Psoriatic Arthritis. This is a type of Arthritis that inflames the joints due to the overactivity of the immune system. A person who develops this condition might have also developed a skin disease that’s also related to the immune system called Psoriasis.

Types of Psoriatic Arthritis

  1. Asymmetric Arthritis

This type of Psoriatic Arthritis is the most common type that affects a person. It does not only cause symptoms to only one joint but other joints as well. However, it does not affect joints that are on both sides of the body. A person with Asymmetric Arthritis may experience swelling of the joints. The joints may also feel warm and tender when they are touched. A person’s hands and toes may also appear like small sausages when you try to observe them. Although this type of Psoriatic Arthritis is common, it is just a mild condition compared to the others. Still, you don’t have to disregard it as it may also lead to disability.

  1. Symmetric Arthritis

Symmetric Arthritis is another type of Psoriatic Arthritis. The second most common type, it is the kind that has similarity to Rheumatoid Arthritis. However, the similarity ends with the severity of the deformity each condition brings out. Symmetric Arthritis leads to less deformity compared to Rheumatoid Arthritis. Symmetric Arthritis is also noted for its potential to cause disability to the person with this kind of condition. What are the symptoms that you will most likely experience with Symmetric Arthritis? The painful sensation is the most common and it is centered to certain parts of the body such as the hips, knee, wrists, and ankles on both sides. Other symptoms that may appear are swelling, stiffness, and inflammation which will be visible in at least five joints of the body. This condition mostly affects women than men. When a person who has psoriasis develops Symmetric Arthritis, his or her psoriasis may appear more serious than the usual.

  1. Spondylitis

Spondylitis is different compared to the other types of Psoriatic Arthritis because its target part of the body is the spine. It affects the spine by causing inflammation to it. When a person has Spondylitis, he or she may experience stiffness in the neck as well as in the lower back and the joints that connect the spine and the pelvis. Spondylitis can become more painful as it continues to advance and its inflammation can affect spinal vertebrae which may require a person to undergo surgical methods. Compared to other types of Psoriatic Arthritis, Spondylitis can be a bit difficult to be diagnosed.

  1. Distal Interphalangeal Predominant

Unlike Spondylitis, Distal Interphalangeal Predominant mostly affects the male population compared to the females. In this condition, distal joints (the joints that are closest to the nails on the hands and the feet) are the parts of the body that are affected. Fingernails and toenails may have ridges and pits and they may appear yellowish-orange in color. This type of Psoriatic Arthritis rarely exists, though.

  1. Arthritis Mutilans

Among the five types of Psoriatic Arthritis, Arthritis Mutilans is considered the most disabling. And although it is the least common type, it can cause general weakness. This condition is characterized by the breaking of the small bones in the hands, the feet, and the back and neck. This breaking down is alarming since it may cause deformity and worst pain. Research says that only 1 out of 5 percent of people with Psoriatic Arthritis is diagnosed with Arthritis Mutilans.

Different Kinds of Arthritis

Did you know that Arthritis is not just a single disease? There are actually more than 100 types of Arthritis and each of them differs when it comes to their symptoms and treatments. Below, you will find information about 5 of the most common types of Arthritis and how you can prevent and manage them.

  1. Osteoarthritis

This type of Arthritis is the most common type. It develops when the bones are already aging or if there is an injury to them. Obesity may also play a part when it comes to the development of this condition. When you have Osteoarthritis, you will most likely feel joint pain, tenderness, stiffness, flexibility problems, bone spurs, and grating sensations. Osteoporosis can be treated with certain medications such as acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and Duloxetine. In order to prevent Osteoarthritis, you need to maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight is known to put extra stress on the joints, so it is advisable to keep your weight normal. Avoiding injury to the bones is also a very important preventive measure.

  1. Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis is another common type of Arthritis. This condition is different compared to the others because it can affect not only the joints but also other parts of the body such as the lungs, heart, eyes, skin, and the blood system. Some of the most common symptoms associated with this condition are fatigue, joint pain, joint swelling, joint redness, joint warmth, joint deformity, loss of range of motion (ROM), anemia, and fever. What is the treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis? In order to manage this condition, the physician may prescribe drugs such as corticosteroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), biologic agents, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Rheumatoid Arthritis can be prevented by doing daily exercises, quitting smoking, avoiding injury to the joints and the bones, and following a healthy diet.

  1. Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia, another common type of Arthritis, is a condition by which a person experiences a chronic widespread pain in the musculoskeletal area. This pain heightens especially when you are responding to pressure. According to researchers, this kind of Arthritis brings out painful sensations by affecting the way your brain receives brain signals. When you have this kind of Arthritis, the symptoms you will most likely feel are morning stiffness, headaches, restless leg syndrome, sleeping difficulties, sensitivity to bright lights, sensitivity to loud noises, memory problems, and irritable bowel syndrome. To manage and treat this problem, you will expect your physician to prescribe you medications such as pregabalin (Lyrica), duloxetine (Cymbalta), and milnacipran (Savella). To avoid developing this condition, you have to get yourself an adequate sleep, keep yourself away from emotional and mental stress, perform meditation and relaxation techniques, get a regular exercise, practice a balanced diet, and regularly visit your physician to assess your musculoskeletal health.

  1. Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic Arthritis is quite different compared to other kinds of Arthritis since it particularly affects those who have psoriasis, an autoimmune skin condition that is characterized by patches of abnormal skin. When you are experiencing Psoriatic Arthritis, you will expect to have general fatigue, swollen fingers, swollen toes, reduced range of motion, tiredness, morning stiffness, eye irritation, nail changes, throbbing, and swelling. Psoriatic Arthritis’ treatment includes drugs such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and naproxen sodium (Aleve). How can you keep yourself prevented? You have to maintain a normal weight. Follow a balanced and clean diet. Also keep yourself away from infection by practicing a good hygiene. In addition, make it a habit to visit your physician once in a while for assessment and early diagnosis.

  1. Gout

Gout is considered a complex type of Arthritis. It basically affects anyone. An inflammatory condition, it is characterized by abrupt, severe attacks of pain and redness and tenderness in joints. Apart from redness and tenderness, you may also feel peeling and itching of the skin, limited movement in your affected joint, and warm sensation. Gout can be treated by taking over-the-counter pain medications such as Ibuprofen (Motrin). Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are also usually prescribed. In order to prevent this disease from developing, you need to monitor your weight and see if it’s normal. Keep a wholesome diet and avoid foods that may precipitate gout attacks. Foods such as red meat, organ meats, and certain types of seafood that contain high levels of a substance called purine are to be avoided.

13 Important Questions about Arthritis: Ways to Prevent Arthritis

It is best to be truly informed about Arthritis and the things that you need to do in order to prevent this disease. Do you suspect that your joint pain is already a sign of Arthritis? Below are some of the important questions gathered about Arthritis that everyone should know.

  1. What causes Arthritis pain?

A lot of factors could lead to Arthritis pain and these include injuries to the joint, inflammation of the tissue that lines the joints, and muscle strain. Fatigue, on the hand, may also precipitate Arthritis pain.

  1. How can Arthritis pain be measured by the physicians?

Because only you can feel the pain, the only thing that a physician can do in order to measure it is to ask you about it. You may be asked about the level of pain that you experience, specifically letting you scale from 1 (least painful) to 10 (most painful). You may keep a pain diary with you so you can record your pain sensations every day. This serves as a helpful tool for the physicians since they rely on your description of pain when giving you treatment.

  1. How can Arthritis be treated?

There are several ways to treat Arthritis. Depending on the type of Arthritis, certain drugs and medications are prescribed such as analgesics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), counterirritants, and corticosteroids. You can also opt for physical therapy which requires you to perform exercises. In worse cases, surgery is the best treatment—specifically joint repair, joint replacement, and joint fusion surgical methods.

  1. Could I benefit from Physical therapy?

Yes. If you have an Arthritis and you don’t move your joints, the pain and stiffness will only worsen so it is advisable to undergo a physical therapy where you perform exercises so your discomfort will lessen.

  1. What are the symptoms that I should look for?

Joint pain and joint stiffness are the most common symptoms to look for. Other symptoms such as mild fever, numbness, tingling, a decrease of range in motion (ROM), general weakness, dry mouth, loss of appetite, sleeping difficulties, fatigue, and weight loss are also the things that you can experience.

  1. What is the difference between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis?

The difference between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis is their symptoms. A person who has Osteoarthritis experiences morning stiffness that lasts less than an hour while a person with Rheumatoid Arthritis feels morning stiffness that lasts longer than 1 hour. In Rheumatoid Arthritis, a general feeling of being ill is present while in Osteoarthritis, only some parts of the body feel discomfort.

  1. What specific measures should be done if symptoms worsen?

You have to call your physician to further assess the degree and level of your Arthritis. This is very important in order for your symptoms and your general condition to be treated immediately.

  1. I’m 40 years old. Could I have Arthritis?

The risk of developing Arthritis increases with age, so as you grow older, you become at risk for it. Take note that this condition is not necessarily an elderly person’s disease, though.

  1. How can exercises treat Arthritis?

With exercises, the muscles around your joints strengthen. Exercises also help maintain bone strength and improve balance, so it is necessary to move your joints every once in a while so as to lessen the pain, stiffness, and other uncomfortable symptoms.

  1. Will there be any precautions I should take before doing exercises?

Yes. Before you delve into exercises, you have to talk to your physician first. Know if certain exercises are good for you and if there are types of exercises that are not advisable and should be avoided. You should also know if you need to be evaluated by a physical therapist before starting an exercise.

  1. What can I do to prevent Arthritis?

Following an active and healthy lifestyle is always the key. Eat healthy foods especially fish. Control your weight, protect your joints against injury, exercise daily, and have a regular check-up with your physician to assess your bone health status.

  1. I’ve heard about Glucosamine. Is it helpful?

Glucosamine is a popular supplement for Arthritis and many people attest that it does wonders to the joints. However, its effect may vary from person to person. You still need to contact your physician and ask if this supplement benefits you.

  1. Are there any types of foods that I should not eat if I have Arthritis?

Yes. It is best to avoid oily foods, sugary foods, alcohol, gluten, processed foods, red meat, and foods rich in saturated fats. These foods are known to worsen Arthritis symptoms.

What is Arthritis? Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Hand writing Arthritis with blue marker on transparent wipe board isolated on white.

As you grow older, you will likely feel a lot of joint problems which will possibly lead to the diagnosis of Arthritis. This condition could lose you more workdays because of the pain you feel and the discomfort you experience.

A “joint inflammation” condition, Arthritis is not just a single disease. It is a group of 100 different conditions that create unique problems and symptoms to the joints as well as to the muscles and other parts of the body. Common types of Arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, gout, osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, Reiter’s diseases, polymyalgia rheumatica, fibromyalgia, and systemic lupus erythematosus. These types of Arthritis require different medical approach in order to be treated.

What Causes Arthritis

  1. Injury

 If you have any kind of physical injury that may result to wearing out of your joint, then you will most likely develop Arthritis. Any type of injury may cause Arthritis such as injury from a vehicular accident, a fall, or any situation that causes physical trauma. These injuries aggravate the natural breakdown of cartilage, resulting in damage to the bones.

  1. Infections 

Arthritis may also exist as a result of bacterial or fungal infection. Usually when there is an infection, the joint eventually inflames. It does not only affect a single joint but it may also affect other joints such as the knee or the hip.

  1. Abnormal metabolism

An abnormal metabolism can also lead to Arthritis. Say for an example, when you have high levels of uric acid in the blood, this gradually accumulates in the joints which result to the development of Arthritis and a painful sensation. Common types of Arthritis that result in this metabolic problem are gout and pseudogout.

  1. Inheritance

An Arthritis that runs in the family and genetics appears to be commonly involved. If you have a father, mother, uncle, aunt, and grandparents on both sides that have Arthritis, there is a great chance that you will also inherit this condition.

Symptoms of Arthritis

Symptoms of this condition vary from person to person. They can also be changed from day to day. The following are the list of manifestations that you may experience when you have an Arthritis:

  1. Joint stiffness
  2. Joint pain
  3. Joint swelling
  4. Fatigue
  5. Mild fever
  6. Numbness
  7. Tingling
  8. Decrease of range in motion (ROM)
  9. General weakness
  10. Presence of discharges in the eyes
  11. Itchiness and inflammation in the eyes
  12. Dry mouth
  13. Loss of appetite
  14. Weight loss
  15. Difficult of sleeping

Treatment

Medications:

  1. Analgesics

Analgesics are one of the commonly prescribed medications for people with Arthritis. It manages the pain, however, it does not treat inflammation. Common analgesics for Arthritis include Tylenol, Tramadol, Ultram, Ultracet, Percocet, Oxycontin, Vicoprofen, Norco, and many others.

  1. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

For management of both pain and inflammation, NSAIDs are the typical drug of choice. This group of medications can be bought over-the-counter. Such drugs include Motrin IB, Advil, Aleve, and several others. However, you have to take note that these drugs can cause adverse reactions such as stomach discomfort. It may also cause serious problems like stroke and heart attack.

  1. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)

These drugs are the drug of choice specifically for rheumatoid arthritis. Their action includes preventing the immune system to potentially attack the joints. Some DMARDs that are often prescribed by the physicians are Plaquenil and Trexall.

  1. Counterirritants

People with Arthritis may feel irritation in the skin which is why a counterirritant drug is required to reduce the symptom. Counterirritant drugs are usually ointments and creams that are rubbed on the skin over the part that is aching or swelling.

  1. Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are one of the best drugs that manage inflammation. They usually include cortisone and prednisone. The route depends, whether they should be taken orally or be directly injected into the joint.

Therapy:

A person with Arthritis can opt for a Therapy method once the condition gradually improves from medications or if the condition is not severe enough to cause serious damage. What you can expect from this form of treatment is a series of exercises which help improve range of motion and strengthen the muscles that surround the joints.

Surgery:

In serious cases by which medications and therapy do not work out, surgery is often advised. Surgical methods that are usually done include joint repair, joint replacement, and joint fusion.