3 Things You Need To Know About Fibromyalgia

The 12th of May is International Fibromyalgia Awareness Day which aims to raise awareness for the condition as well as other chronic immunological and neurological diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome, gulf war syndrome and multiple chemical sensitivity. May 12th was chosen as the day of awareness for this group of conditions as today is Florence Nightingale's birthday, who is believed to have suffered with chronic fatigue syndrome


What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes chronic pain and a host of other symptoms like fatigue, muscle stiffness, sleeping problems, digestive issues like IBS, and headaches. The symptoms can differ from person to person, and with no specific diagnostic test, it’s very difficult to diagnose or to be diagnosed.

While there isn't a cure, there are treatments available like painkillers, antidepressants, lifestyle changes and cognitive behavioural therapy. Exercise has been found to be effective in many of those who suffer with Fibromyalgia, especially with reducing pain.

 

1. Fibromyalgia can be brought on by a stressful event like childbirth

While the exact cause of Fibromyalgia is unknown, it is thought to be related to the levels of chemicals in the brain. An abnormal level of certain chemicals can lead to changes in the way the nervous system processes messages that are carried around the body. In many cases the condition is triggered by emotionally or physically stressful events like;

  • Childbirth
  • Injury
  • Breakdown of a relationship
  • Death of a loved one

2. Fibromyalgia is much more common in women than in men

Fibromyalgia affects around 7 times as many women as it does men, but both genders are able to develop the condition. It isn’t clear exactly how many people are affected by this condition but it’s thought to be quite common with estimates at around 1 in 20 people being affected to some degree.

 

3. Fibromyalgia can be linked to pelvic pain and pelvic floor dysfunction

Chronic pain from the condition can be highlighted in the pelvic floor. Because of the nature of the condition, it causes diffuse pain (which means the pain affects many muscle groups). This diffuse pain can evolve in an array of other symptoms and conditions, including those affecting the pelvic floor. Many women with fibromyalgia also suffer with urinary incontinence, pelvic pain and sexual dysfunction. Pelvic floor physical therapy can be used to ease symptoms.



Final thoughts 

Fibromyalgia is a debilitating chronic condition that really affects those who suffer with it. If any of the symptoms sound familiar to you, then book a visit with your GP and take a list of your symptoms. If you truly feel that something is wrong don’t stop until you feel you’ve had the right care and got the answers you deserve. If you are having issue with Fibromyalgia and pelvic floor dysfunction then speak to your physio to work on a plan to work on your pelvic floor. While we often talk about pelvic floor strengthening and tightening, those suffering with pelvic floor dysfunction connected to Fibromyalgia actually require relaxation of the tight pelvic floor muscles.

 

Resources

Fibromyalgia - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Fibromyalgia and Pelvic Pain - Pelvic Rehabilitation Medicine

Home (may12th.org)

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