Though it’s a chronic pain condition, many people with fibromyalgia have symptoms that go beyond their widespread pain. They may have a hard time following conversations, find themselves mixing up words, or simply feel disconnected from the world around them.
If your fibromyalgia is making it harder for you to think, you’re not alone. We call this brain fog, also sometimes called fibro fog. Our pain management physician, Dr. Sarosh Saleemi, at Interventional Pain Associates in Austin, Texas, understands the complexities of fibromyalgia and how it seems to take over every part of your body and life.
Here, we want to talk about the brain fog that comes with fibromyalgia and what you can do to manage it.
Brain fog and fibromyalgia
Brain fog is one of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. It’s characterized by problems with memory and thinking. Not everyone with fibromyalgia develops brain fog, but it’s estimated that more than 50% of people with fibromyalgia experience some kind of decline in cognitive function.
Symptoms of brain fog include:
- Having difficulty thinking clearly
- Feeling less alert
- Experiencing forgetfulness
- Having problems with concentration and focus
- Being slow to respond
Many people who struggle with these fibromyalgia-related cognitive changes may find their symptoms even more distressing than their pain.
What causes brain fog?
Researchers are still investigating what causes brain fog in people with fibromyalgia, but some theorize that it may develop due to hippocampus dysfunction.
The hippocampus is a complex structure in your brain and is part of the limbic system, which is responsible for memory and thinking. This part of your brain also detects pain. The hippocampus is a vulnerable part of the brain, easily damaged from overstimulation.
Researchers theorize that hippocampus dysfunction in fibromyalgia occurs from overexposure to stress hormones and excitatory neurotransmitters, resulting in atrophy of the hippocampus that affects thinking and memory.
It’s also theorized that the brain fog may develop because the demands of the pain from fibromyalgia make it harder to think.
Tips for dealing with brain fog
We specialize in fibromyalgia and know how the condition affects your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. That’s why we take a holistic approach to managing the chronic pain condition. We want to not only ease your pain, but improve your quality of life.
Many of the lifestyle changes we recommend to improve fibromyalgia symptoms may also lift the fog covering your brain. For our patients struggling with brain fog, we recommend regular physical exercise and engaging in activities that stimulate the brain, like word puzzles. Getting on a healthy sleep schedule also improves brain health.
Stress management is also important for dealing with brain fog. Physical exercise and relaxation techniques can help reduce stress and stress hormone levels. We also provide referrals for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Don’t let the brain fog from fibromyalgia take over your life. We can help you get your body and mind back. Call our office or click the “book online” button to make an appointment with our fibromyalgia expert.