If you’re suffering from all-over aching and fatigue but can’t determine why, it’s possible you might have fibromyalgia. This relatively mysterious affliction may affect up to 10 million Americans, the majority of them women, causing muscle pain and stiffness that often interfere with sleep.
Fibromyalgia isn’t regarded as dangerous, but it’s certainly disruptive, making procedures to manage discomfort and induce restful sleep crucial.
Fibromyalgia…What exactly is it?
“Fibromyalgia” literally means pain in the muscles and tissue: “Fibro” refers to fascia, or connective tissue; “my” means muscle; and “algia,” pain. When problems with sleep and fatigue occur with body pain, doctors sometimes call the condition “fibromyalgia syndrome.”
Is Fibromyalgia Real?
Fibromyalgia was long regarded as a psychological disorder: Blood tests and X-rays of affected individuals indicate no abnormalities and provide no reason for a patient’s complaints of aching or stabbing pain, difficult sleep, headaches, poor memory, and difficulty concentrating. In fact, the condition wasn’t officially acknowledged until 1990, when the American College of Rheumatology laid down this medical definition: widespread pain for at least three months, and extreme sensitivity in 11 of 18 specific areas of the body, called tender points, including elbows, knees, and shoulders.
Meanwhile, the condition’s causes and cure remain elusive. Suggested causes include a genetic predisposition; a trigger such as stress, sleep deprivation, or possibly a virus; low levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that behaves as a natural painkiller; and levels of substance P, a neurotransmitter that transmits pain messages.
The difficulties of fibromyalgia tend to cycle: Intense pain interferes with sleep, which worsens pain and causes fuzzy thinking, anxiety, depression, and so on. The strategy is to stop the cycle, lessening pain for more restful sleep and less discomfort. Medical treatments include anti-inflammatory drugs, sleeping pills, and antidepressants, but exercise, a healthy diet, and herbal and nutritional supplements may also be helpful.
Although the idea of exercise may be daunting when your entire body hurts, research shows that regular aerobic exercise decreases tenderness, promotes restful sleep, and may boost levels of natural painkillers called endorphins. Hot baths and showers help relieve stiffness in the morning or relax the body at night. Nutritional factors, herbal aids, and home remedies may also lead to less pain and better sleep.. Here are a few fibromyalgia health quick tips to consider:
Fibromyalgia Diet – Many holistic practitioners believe that diet may play a role in fibromyalgia and advocate getting more disease-fighting antioxidant nutrients, specifically vitamins A and C, to help protect muscle cells from damage. Specific recommendations include carrot juice in addition to spinach and other greens (dandelion, mustard, and beet greens). To counter digestive problems that sometimes accompany fibromyalgia, get plenty of roughage from fresh fruits, especially blackberries and raspberries; ready-to-eat bran cereals; and whole-grain foods, including amaranth seeds, cooked barley, or bulgur; and whole-wheat breads and pasta.
Magnesium – Greens and grains also provide magnesium, which aids muscle relaxation.
In one study, pain and tenderness of fibromyalgia were reduced in people who took high doses of both magnesium and malic acid, a chemical found in fruit and plant juices that increases magnesium’s absorption. Be sure you seek the advice of a doctor before trying these treatment options for fibromyalgia; some may be unsafe when coupled with prescription drugs, such as antidepressants.
Herbal Treatments – Creams that contain capsaicin, the compound that puts the heat in chili peppers, can be applied on painful areas to reduce pain and boost circulation. Capsaicin functions as a counterirritant–the burning sensation distracts the brain from pain signals sent by other nerves. Grapeseed extract, a powerful antioxidant, may reduce inflammation; ginkgo, also an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, helps deliver oxygen to muscles; and St. John’s wort promotes long, deep sleep.