Last Updated on October 6, 2022 by melissanreynolds
This complete introduction to fibromyalgia: I share what Fibromyalgia is, the definition, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options and more. You will want to bookmark this post and come back to it.
I also turned it into a FREE mini eBook that you can download here to make it easier for you.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain-based illness of unknown origin and cure. It effects approximately 3-6% of the world’s population. Effecting far more women than men, but there are definitely men who suffer with it too. It appears in-discriminatory in race, education level and socioeconomic demographics.
I have struggled with this illness for most of my life. I have also put a lot of work into my wellness journey. In 2017 I was the most well I had been since I was 17 years old. In 2021 I am the most well I can ever remember being. This does not mean that I am not affected 24/7 – I just have it as well managed as I possibly can.
For the concise, all in one place story of my journey and all that I do see my eBook and worksheet bundle Melissa vs Fibromyalgia: My Journey Fighting Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia. The worksheets help you to take the learning and start your journey.
For a brief run down of what Fibromyalgia is, the symptoms and some treatments see below.
Introduction to Fibromyalgia Full Video Training
Introduction to the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
On the University of Maryland Medical Center website, Fibromyalgia is explained in this way: “Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by pain in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons; fatigue; and multiple tender points on the body.”
And on the same page, they list the signs and symptoms of Fibromyalgia:
- Widespread pain and stiffness
- Fatigue [and]/or trouble
- Paresthesia (tingling)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Skin sensitivity
- Heightened sensitivity to noises, bright lights, smells
- Pain after exertion
- Memory lapses/difficulty
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
However, the trouble is that Fibromyalgia seems to be very unique to each person: how it comes on, what symptoms are present, what helps said symptoms.
There is also a debate as to whether trigger points are present in Fibromyalgia or part of a separate issue called Myofascial Pain Syndrome. A lot of the above symptoms overlap with a lot of different conditions.
What causes fibromyalgia?
In short, they don’t really know. It is an illness with a long history and many theories. For some it is brought on by trauma – an illness, prolonged stress, pregnancy etc.
Some Associated Physiological Abnormalities
Research has found alterations in neurotransmitter regulation, immune system function, sleep physiology and hormone level control. A lot of research suggests that Fibromyalgia is the result of central nervous system dysfunction – specifically an overactive nervous system, stressing and exhausting the brain (Dennis W. Dobritt, Fibromyalgia – A Brief Overview).
Is Fibromyalgia an Autoimmune Disease?
There is conflicting information around this. Some research suggests it is, you can read more about that here. The main argument appears to be around whether or not it causes inflammation. New research is linking fibromyalgia to neuroinflammation (inflammation in the brain). This is what low dose naltrexone (more on that below in treatments) helps with and a subset of people have amazing results thanks to this medicine. Myself included.
Introduction to Fibromyalgia Diagnosis
This great article from Fibro Daze explains why it takes so long to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, the process and the Widespread Pain Index and Symptom Severity Scale.
Long story short, it takes a long time to be diagnosed – years on average and multiple doctors – because it is a tricky illness with no widely accepted test and because a multitude of other illnesses must be ruled out. This is particularly difficult because Fibromyalgia tends to co-exist with a multitude of other conditions. It is a disease of mimicking and misdiagnosis.
Does a Fibromyalgia Diagnosis Make a Difference?
Yes and no. It didn’t initially help me, I received the diagnosis and no extra help. The doctor just had no ideas. I have also found that once you have a fibromyalgia diagnosis, everything is thrown into that box. Which means other issues can be missed. The fact that fibromyalgia often coexists with other illnesses means that issues need to be teased out individually.
For example, I was continually coming up against the issue of there being a physiological problem with my neck. Physical treatments and ibuprofen helped it somewhat, and this is counter to what they say about fibromyalgia. There shouldn’t be physical abnormalities and anti-inflammatories are not meant to help fibromyalgia pain. Yet both were true for me. It was myofascial pain syndrome.
Can Fibromyalgia Go Away? Is There a Cure?
We have been told it is incurable, but that is only because they don’t know what causes it. But some smart people are working on it and I believe we will see progress soon.
There are a multitude of treatment options on offer. Some of them help a little, some help a lot, some help one person a lot and another person a little – therein lies the difficulty.
I have been sharing my journey for the past several years because I want to help you cut down the time it takes you to find what helps you. I have carefully researched, trialed and written about all of the treatment options I have tried.
But Can We Really?
Because we are so different, have other comorbid disorders (illnesses that often coexist), and our context and lifestyle are big parts of it – there is no way to guarantee an outcome. But I believe that we can change our quality of life. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have created over 300 posts on the blog sharing my journey and turning those into tips that can help you.
We must be willing to try things and believe we can improve our quality of life. That gets hard when we get our hopes dashed and the doctors don’t even know how to help us.
Keep this in mind as we go into an introduction to fibromyalgia treatment. Jot down ideas for things to research and consider trying. For help, go and sign up for my free mini course You vs Fibromyalgia.
Choose one thing. Just one. And start today. Then choose another thing.
Introduction to Fibromyalgia Treatment
This post will help you heaps on the practicalities and what to do now. The Guide to Managing Fibromyalgia.
There are few certainties in treating Fibromyalgia but here are some from a seasoned Fibromyalgia fighter:
- Treatment will require multiple options (natural and medicinal)
- One option can help me incredibly and you not at all and vice versa
- Sleep is king. Tackle sleep first. With medication if you must. This is a widely agreed finding from key doctors who treat Fibromyalgia including Dr Liptan, Dr Teitelbaum and Dr Vallings.
- You can impact your quality of life.
- But you will probably also need help.
Is There a Fibromyalgia Diet?
There are diets that people claim will help with fibromyalgia. I am not a health professional and have no nutritional background. But in my personal research my conclusion is that we do best when we avoid our personal intolerances and allergies, eat less junk and more vegetables. This is trial and error, like many things.
Introduction to Fibromyalgia: The Manuals
I wrote about My Top Five Books for Fighting Fibromyalgia in this post. Start with Dr Teitelbaum and Dr Liptan – both of these doctors have Fibromyalgia themselves and treat people with Fibromyalgia.
I hope you are not feeling overwhelmed by all of this information – you can download this as a free mini eBook here so that you can read it on your devices at your leisure or print it out (and highlight and take notes etc.)
What Works for Me
My whole of life protocol includes key pillars:
- Low dose naltrexone
- Recovery Factors supplement
- Yoga Nidra (and yoga)
- Sleep (through all of the above, plus quetiapine)
Treating Fibromyalgia Through the Central Nervous System
Natural Remedies for Fibromyalgia Treatment
Where possible, I prefer natural treatments and remedies. In fact, the only medicine I take is Low Dose Naltrexone. Here are some of the natural remedies I love:
Natural Pain Relief Supplements
Can You Get Pregnant with Fibromyalgia?
Yes! I have had four healthy baby boys (in seven years). Some people seem to experience fertility struggles. Read more about that in this post.
Check out “pregnancy and parenting” in the categories box (below or beside this post) for articles to help you have the best pregnant possible despite Fibromyalgia.
Things to consider Pre-Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia
As of the end of 2022 I am enjoying my best quality of life that I can ever remember. Despite uncertainty with potential endometriosis (or some other cause of suddenly debilitating periods). Thanks to low dose naltrexone, Recovery Factors supplement, quetiapine, yoga, meditation and all the things I have enacted to be more well. I am so thankful every day.
Since 2010, I have gone from moderate to mild in the daily/average severity of my symptoms. I do have flare ups. And I must be careful to manage my boundaries (pacing), but I am doing a job I love, growing four beautiful children and running this blog. It’s more than I could have imagined at 25 years old when I couldn’t even find a doctor who understood what was wrong with me.
I am hopeful and I am excited as to what the future brings.
My hope for you is that you keep fighting for yourself. Don’t wait for a doctor to do it for you. But do work with your doctor, find another if they won’t.
For more information
Try my FREE micro course You vs Fibromyalgia: Arm Yourself with Knowledge: it is a six section micro course designed to get you started in your journey.