Chronic Pain / Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain in your muscles, ligaments and tendons, as well as fatigue and multiple tender points on the body where slight pressure causes pain.
People with fibromyalgia have increased sensitivity in the brain to pain signals with a lower threshold for pain. In people with fibromyalgia, repeated nerve stimulation due to various causes creates an abnormal increase in levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain (neurotransmitters).
Fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals. People with fibromyalgia have a lower threshold for pain because of increased sensitivity in the brain to pain signals due to an abnormal increase in levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain (neurotransmitters). This causes the pain perceiving parts of the brain to develop a sort of “memory” of the pain, causing them to overreact to pain signals.
In some cases the condition is triggered by a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.
Women are much more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men. People with fibromyalgia have a heightened sensitivity in the brain to pain signals and as a result, have a lower pain threshold. The lowered pain thresholds in fibromyalgia patients may be caused by the reduced effectiveness of the body’s natural endorphin painkillers and the increased presence of a chemical called “substance P” which amplifies pain signals. Studies have showed that the female hormones, Estrogens, reduce pain threshold and amplify pain perception by blocking the effects of endorphins. Research also shows that testosterone, the male hormone, reduces pain perception, probably by blocking the effects of substance P. Testosterone also plays a role in preventing muscle fatigue and repairing muscles.
Signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia can vary, depending on the weather, stress, physical activity or even the time of day.
Widespread pain and tender points
The pain associated with fibromyalgia is described as a constant dull ache, typically arising from muscles on both sides of your body and above and below the waist, with additional pain when firm pressure is applied to specific areas of the body(tender points). Tender point locations include:
- Back of the head
- Between shoulder blades
- Top of shoulders
- Front sides of neck
- Upper chest
- Outer elbows
- Upper hips
- Sides of hips
- Inner knees
People with fibromyalgia often awaken tired, even though they seem to get plenty of sleep. Sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea have been linked to fibromyalgia include
Many people who have fibromyalgia also may have:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Stress disorders
- Restless legs syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Treatments for fibromyalgia include medication and Osteopathic Manipulative Posture Alignment Treatment (OMPAT). Tady we have newer medication that acts on the chemical neurotransmitters in the brain help increase pain threshold, and ease the pain and fatigue and improve sleep.
OMPAT involves stretching your muscles, applying pressure, and moving the parts of the body against resistance under the supervision of a qualified therapist.
Osteopathic Manipulative Posture Alignment Treatment is available at our center.