Fibromyalgia is a common condition that is characterized by chronic, widespread pain that affects the muscles, tendons, joints and other soft tissues. Is can be accompanied by other debilitating conditions including fatigue, headaches, anxiety, depression and sleep disturbances. Fibromyalgia is not a very well understood condition, but it is believed to be caused by a dysfunction of the nervous system.
There is supporting evidence that those suffering from fibromyalgia have a nervous system that continually fires, causing a pain response to even the slightest bit of pressure. In some cases there may be episodes of numbness and tingling of the digits and extremities for no apparent reason. Other symptoms can include joint pain, joint swelling, bowel issues and bladder issues.
There are several theories as to what causes fibromyalgia, ranging from stress to genetics to hormonal disturbances, however these is still no clear consensus as to the exact cause of the disorder. Instead, fibromyalgia is believed to be a result of a combination of physical and emotional stressors as opposed to a single triggering event.
Ongoing research is working to pinpoint and identify with more certainty the underlying causes of this condition. Some researchers have speculated that lower levels of the brain transmitter serotonin can lead to an increased sensitivity to pain. Serotonin is associated with a calming effect that improves mood and helps reduce anxiety. Fibromyalgia patients may experience lowered pain thresholds due to the diminished effectiveness of the body’s natural endorphin painkillers. Lowered levels of serotonin can also lead to elevated levels of a chemical known as “substance P.” This neurotransmitter, which works with serotonin, is responsible for:
- Transmitting pain impulses to the spinal cord and brain
- Dilating the blood vessels by producing a nerve generated impulse
- Modulating secretion of fluid and protein from the cells to outside the cells
In some fibromyalgia patients, levels of substance P have been found to be elevated to three times the normal levels, which could explain the increased pain perception experienced by those suffering from the condition. Research has suggested that the serotonin systems of female brains vs. male brains function a bit differently. Studies have shown that women may have lesser levels of the protein that sweeps away serotonin that has already circulated, keeping serotonin levels higher as new serotonin is secreted. This process can, in effect, cause not enough serotonin to be secreted, leaving the female brain with fewer levels of the hormone that is essential to managing pain and maintaining a healthy level of contentment. This research may help explain why the majority of fibromyalgia sufferers are female.
People that suffer from fibromyalgia experience unrelenting pain that can seriously impact quality of life, therefore, seeking effective Fibromyalgia treatment is important. There are several different treatments options available for Austin fibromyalgia patients. Treatment plans can include a combination of prescription medications such as pain meds or antidepressants to help target the key pain center within the brain. Alternative therapies and lifestyle changes may also be used to combat the symptoms of fibromyalgia, working to improve sleep, mood and decrease pain response. Your physician may also recommend activities like physical therapy, regular aerobic exercise, yoga, moist heat, relaxation and other stress reduction techniques to help manage symptoms.
Since chronic pain and fatigue can often increase feelings of anxiety and depression, and in turn worsen fibromyalgia symptoms, it is important to seek mental health treatment. As discussed above, stress can play a huge role in the body’s ability to deal with pain and heal properly. Learning how to cope with stress can help you to improve your perspective and your coping skills.
In addition to lifestyle habits and stress management therapies, pain medications such as local anesthetics (injected into especially painful or tender areas) may be utilized to help manage pain and get fibromyalgia symptoms under control. Muscle relaxants and Anticonvulsants (seizure medications) are occasionally prescribed to help alleviate muscle strain, anxiety and pain.
Custom Fibromyalgia Treatment in Austin
If you are experiencing fibromyalgia symptoms, there is no need for you to suffer any longer. At the Diagnostic Pain Center, we see a number of Austin Fibromyalgia patients each year and are very familiar with the different aspects and symptoms of this condition. Dr. Robert S. Marks, Dr. Sauman A. Rafii, Dr. Ivan N. Chew and our team of friendly pain professionals will work one-on-one with you to understand your pain issues and design a custom-tailored fibromyalgia treatment plan that addresses your unique needs.
We are committed to helping all of our patients control and eliminate their pain so they can get back to living a happier, more active and pain-free lifestyle. If you are ready to take back control of the life you enjoy, then give us a call today at 512-981-7246 or request an appointment online to get started.
We look forward to helping you restore your quality of life!