When I first heard the word ‘fibromyalgia’, I didn’t understand what it was.. I knew it had something to do with pain, and lots of it. But I didn’t understand what is was about. Until, I found myself sitting across from a doctor at Mayo Clinic with charts and pamphlets.
Before we get started, I just want to say that I am a patient, not a doctor. What I am sharing comes largely from what my doctors taught me and what I have discovered in my own searching.
I am sharing to hopefully help you be informed enough to support friends with this syndrome or possibly acquire informed questions for your doctor. Please talk with your doctor or visit the Mayo Clinic website for official information, diagnosis, and treatment.
Fibromyalgia is characterized by chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain and tenderness in which sensory processing systems are altered, producing allodynia and hyperalgesia. Let’s start with the actual definition is derived from three words
- fibro (Latin) – “Fibrous tissue”
- myos (Greek) – “muscle”
- algos (Greek) -“pain”
So what is Fibromyalgia ~ in plain English?
For me it is muscle and tissue pain that moves around the body. Some days my arms and shoulders hurt. Other days my hips hurt. And then it could be in one of my thighs or all of the above. At times, I may feel pretty good until someone touches me on a trigger point. Trigger points can be extremely tender and shoot pain into other areas of your body. You may have known someone who cannot be hugged because of the tenderness.
Hyperalgesia is pain that it much worse than it should be. Let’s say you hit your arm on the corner of the counter or a door knob. This hurts momentarily for most people, but those with fibromyalgia the pain is much greater and lasts much longer. This pain can be even 10 times greater than what it should be.
Allodynia is pain that is caused by something that would not normally cause pain. For instance, when someone hugs you, you can feel the pressure of their hug. But for someone with fibromyalgia, it registers in the brain as pain instead of pressure.
This is the basic definition of the problem.
We’ll expand on this more later.
Feeling Your Pain;
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Fibromyalgia National Coalition – Background information
Mayo Clinic – Misconceptions about Fibromyalgia