According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4 million adults in the United States have fibromyalgia — a chronic condition that causes all-over body pain, problems with sleep, fatigue, brain fog, and emotional distress.
Though anyone can develop fibromyalgia, including children, currently the chronic pain condition affects twice as many women as men. Are you at risk?
At Interventional Pain Associates in Austin, Texas, Dr. Sarosh Saleemi, is an expert in fibromyalgia, conducting studies to better understand the cause of the chronic pain condition and how best to treat it.
Who is most at risk for developing fibromyalgia? Here, we want to share with you what we know.
What is fibromyalgia?
Researchers are still trying to answer the question, “What is fibromyalgia?” At one time, the pain condition was thought to be an inflammation of the connective tissue (fibrositis). However, it’s now considered a type of sensitivity syndrome that causes joint stiffness and areas of tenderness throughout the body.
Fibromyalgia isn’t just a pain condition. It also causes fatigue, sleep problems, anxiety, depression, and cognitive dysfunction that affects thinking and memory.
It’s believed that fibromyalgia affects how the brain interprets pain signals. People with fibromyalgia have high levels of neurotransmitters in their brains that turn on nerve signals as well as low levels of neurotransmitters in the spinal cord that turn off nerve signals.
You may also lack the ability to control pain because of alterations in your brain’s natural pain-control chemicals — endogenous cerebral opioids.
What does all this mean? Your brain’s pain volume is turned up way too high without any means to lower it or control it, making you more sensitive to nonpainful sensations like pressure and temperature changes.
Changes to your peripheral nervous system — the nerves that send signals to and from your central nervous system from the rest of your body — may contribute to the development of fibromyalgia.
Your hypersensitivity to pain, in turn, affects your psychological well-being.
What causes fibromyalgia?
The cause of fibromyalgia is still under investigation. However, genetics may be involved since the syndrome seems to run in families.
There is evidence that suggests inflammation in your peripheral tissue, spinal cord, and brain may trigger the changes in the brain that make you more sensitive to pain.
In her fibromyalgia research, Dr. Saleemi found that people with fibromyalgia have nerve-root pathology, which refers to pain symptoms that originate from pinching of a nerve in the spinal column. This pain condition may be the source of inflammation that triggers the changes in the brain.
Chronic medical conditions, overuse injuries, and infections also trigger fibromyalgia. Emotional stress and trauma are also linked to the condition.
Who is at risk for fibromyalgia?
Anyone can develop fibromyalgia. However, you may be at greater risk if it runs in your family. Women are also much more likely to develop the chronic pain condition than men.
Having any of the rheumatic diseases, which are inflammatory health problems that affect your muscle, joints, or bones (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis), also puts you at higher risk for developing fibromyalgia.
You’re also more likely to develop fibromyalgia symptoms during middle age.
Fibromyalgia is a perplexing pain syndrome without clear causes that affects your physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. However, through her research. Dr. Saleemi has a better understanding of the syndrome and how to treat it.
Are you at risk for developing fibromyalgia? Do you have widespread pain and nobody seems to know why? We can help. Call our office or click the “book online” button to make an appointment today.