Fibromyalgia is one of the top 10 conditions associated with chronic pain in the United States. It’s also probably the least understood of the 10.
In fact, it’s badly understood not just by the public but also by the medical profession. It is often misdiagnosed, and the idea of fibromyalgia is even met with severe skepticism.
What We Know About Fibromyalgia
The big problem with fibromyalgia is that nobody knows what causes it. It is a problem that affects the bones and the muscles and pain and chronic fatigue are the most common results.
What Are The Risk Factors For Fibromyalgia?
So, what we do know about the condition is, by necessity, somewhat vague but it is easy to identify the risk factors that increase the likelihood of showing the symptoms of the condition:
- You’re a woman. The evidence is that 90% of sufferers are women. Women also appear to experience the symptoms far more severely than the 10% of sufferers who are male.
- You have an existing condition that results in pain. Yes, fibromyalgia seems to stack with other conditions that already give you chronic pain. If you have arthritis, for example, you are much more likely to get fibromyalgia than someone who has no such condition.
- You suffer from a mood disorder. This won’t surprise our readers. You will know that mental conditions are already linked with painful conditions. If you are depressed or anxious that means you will more likely end up with fibromyalgia too.
- You have been physically or emotionally abused. I think there’s a strong link here with anxiety and depression as there is with PSTD (another risk factor for fibromyalgia).
- You don’t undertake regular physical exercise. This keeps coming up around all painful conditions; you need to exercise regularly for your general wellbeing. Exercise can help with everything from arthritis to depression. This is probably why exercising reduces the chances of being diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
- You have other people in your family with fibromyalgia. For some reason, still not understood, fibromyalgia seems to run in families.
So, Are You Saying Fibromyalgia Is In My Head?
No, absolutely not. Though, I don’t see any distinction between pain that stems from a mental cause and that which stems from a physical cause. There’s no “better pain” or “worse pain” just pain that limits our ability to enjoy life.
There are clear risk factors for fibromyalgia that are linked to mental health but there are others that are linked to physical health. Until someone in a lab works out what exactly causes fibromyalgia, we simply do not know what causes it. That means it is best to keep an open mind as to what may treat your fibromyalgia.
We like science here on Pain Authority but we also accept that science doesn’t always have an answer when we need it. In the next few weeks, we’re going to look at fibromyalgia in detail and see what might help with this painful but poorly understood condition of the bones and muscles.